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VPD warns of fake kidnapping extortion scheme

Last Updated May 9, 2018 at 4:47 pm PDT

(Photo credit: Dustin Godfrey for NEWS 1130)
Summary

Extortionists convince people to make videos in which they pretend they are the victims of crimes

'Virtual kidnapping' videos used to extort families out of money

VANCOUVER (NEWS 1130) – Vancouver Police are warning you about an elaborate extortion scheme that appears to be targeting young women from Mainland China.

Two students from China were targeted over the weekend.

The scheme starts with the person receiving a phone call, sometimes from a number that looks like it’s coming from the Chinese Consulate. They are told that a warrant has been issued for their arrest in China or that police in that country need their help with an investigation.

Eventually, the suspects convince the victim to make fake videos in which they claim they have been kidnapped or the victim of some other crime. Those videos are then sent to the victim’s family members, who are extorted for money.

The victims are told to go to a motel to hide from Canadian police.

“We want to remind all foreign students that the Chinese police will not arrest you in Canada, or ask you to take photos or videos of yourselves pretending to be the victim of crime,” says Sergeant Jason Robillard.

“Legitimate contact from the Chinese authorities will be through your local police. We are here to help you. If you are confused or scared, reach out to your local police department in Canada.”

The VPD says it received 20 reports of similar attempts at extortion last year. The victims are usually women in their early 20s from Mainland China who are here on a student visa.

Although Vancouver Police are investigating, they think the suspects probably aren’t in Canada.

However, if you have any information about these crimes, you’re asked to call the VPD’s Major Crime Section at 604-717-3679 or Crime Stoppers anonymously at 1-800-222-8477.