VicPD is warning community members, particularly those from mainland China, about an extortion scam called a “virtual kidnapping.” (Black Press Media file photo)

VicPD is warning community members, particularly those from mainland China, about an extortion scam called a “virtual kidnapping.” (Black Press Media file photo)

VicPD warns community about ‘virtual kidnappings’

Victoria police say students from mainland China being targeted

Investigators with the Victoria Police Department are warning the public – particularly members of the Chinese community – about reports of an extortion scheme known as a “virtual kidnapping.”

Police said reports of “virtual kidnappings” have been increasing lately and officers are warning the public to be aware of these extortion attempts.

In a virtual kidnapping, police said perpetrators often target people from mainland China who are in their early 20s and are in Canada studying on a student visa.

A phone call with a recorded message in Mandarin or Cantonese is sent to the victim, often from a number that appears to be from the Chinese consulate or another Chinese authority. If the victim responds, they are informed there is either a warrant for their arrest in China or that the Chinese police need their help with an investigation.

READ ALSO: Sexual assaults, extortion on the rise even as crime rates stay low: Stats Canada

Police said the suspects eventually convince the victim to make fake videos that say they have been kidnapped or are the victim of a crime.

“These videos are then sent to the victim’s family members, who are, in turn, extorted for money,” VicPD noted. “The victim is then told to go to a motel or a short-term rental to hide from Canadian police.”

VicPD’s major crime unit detectives have investigated several virtual kidnapping files over the last year. The files carry a cost of police resources as well as an emotional cost to the victims and their families, police said.

“The perpetrators’ ultimate goals are financial, and in at least one file, significant amounts of money have been extorted from worried families.”

READ ALSO: Victoria police warn Chinese community of ‘virtual’ kidnappings

If contacted by someone claiming to be from the Chinese consulate or Chinese police who ask for participation in a similar occurrence, police advise calling the non-emergency line at 250-995-7654 or calling local police, even if told not to.

VicPD also advises speaking with students and visitors in the community who are from mainland China about these extortions and encouraging them to contact police if they feel unsafe or are contacted by people claiming to be Chinese authorities who are asking them to pretend to be the victim of a crime.

Police have also noted that the Chinese police or government cannot arrest individuals in Canada. All policing-related contact from the Chinese government is through local police as well. In addition to that, police said Canadian or Chinese authorities will not ask individuals to destroy a phone or take photos or videos pretending to be a victim of a crime.

shalu.mehta@blackpress.ca


Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Vaisakhi normally would have volunteers like these women (in Surrey from a past year) preparing food ahead of the festival to be given out to the hundreds of thousands of spectactors. (Black Press Media file photo)
Greater Victoria Sikhs observe Vaisakhi virtually, but find a way to give out food

Food and taking care of those in need is a big part of Sikh teachings

Victoria police are investigating the cause of a single-vehicle crash that sent one person to hospital early April 12. (Courtesy of VicPD)
Single-vehicle crash topples Victoria hydro pole, sends one to hospital

Police investigating whether speed or impairment were factors

The District of North Saanich has issued a notice to remove this floating structure from the waters off Lillan Hoffar Park. (Wolf Depner/News Staff)
Boat owner ordered to vacate waters off North Saanich park

Couple have been living in floating structure off Lillian Hoffar Park for a number of years

Victoria police continue to search for wanted man Travis Moore after he evaded an arrest attempt by slipping through the bushes in Beacon Hill Park April 11. (Courtesy of VicPD)
Victoria police continue search for wanted man following failed arrest attempt

Travis Moore, 28, is a federal offender wanted Canada wide for breaching his statutory release

A few dozen students and parents gathered outside Lansdowne Middle School South Campus Monday morning to protest proposed budget cuts to SD61 music programs. From left to right: Lyra Gaudin, Cleo Bateman, Abby Farish, Brigitte Peters, Enid Gaudin, Des Farish. (Jane Skrypnek/News Staff)
Students protest proposed cuts to SD61 music programs

Proposed $1.5-million cut would hit elementary and middle school programs

Burnaby MLA Raj Chouhan presides as Speaker of the B.C. legislature, which opened it spring session April 12 with a speech from the throne. THE CANADIAN PRESS
B.C. NDP promises more health care spending, business support in 2021 budget

John Horgan government to ‘carefully return to balanced budgets’

A lady wears a sticker given out after receiving a COVID-19 vaccine at a clinic in Richmond, B.C., Saturday, April 10, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS
B.C.’s COVID-19 case count slows after last week’s peak

3,219 new cases since Friday, 18 additional deaths

North Cowichan councillor Tek Manhas did not violate the municipality’s code of conduct by posting a sexist meme on Facebook, council concludes. (File photo)
B.C. municipality to take no action against councillor who posted sexist meme

Tek Manhas’s meme doesn’t violate North Cowichan council’s code of conduct, municipality concludes

A 41-person air task force, including 12 members from 407 Long Range Patrol Squadron at 19 Wing Comox, seized more than $3 million CND worth of cocaine as part of Op Caribbe. Photo by Canadian Armed Forces Operations/Facebook
Vancouver Island team helps make $368 million three-tonne cocaine seizure

12 members from 19 Wing Comox involved in Op Caribbe

Killer whales surface near Sebastion Beach in Lantzville on Sunday, April 11. (Photos courtesy Ella Smiley)
Chainsaw and friends near the beach thrill orca watchers in Lantzville

Jagged-finned orca named Chainsaw and 17 others spent hours off Sebastion Beach this weekend

Nootka Sound RCMP and DFO Conservation and Protection Officers seized this 30 foot vessel, fishing gear and equipment as well as Chinook salmon, salmon roe, rock fish and ling cod after an investigation on Sept. 11. A judge in Campbell River on February hit the owner and his accomplices with significant fines, a ban on holding fishing licences and loss of equpment, including the boat’s motor and trolling motor. RCMP photo
Washington State trio’s fisheries violations the worst veteran officer has seen in 20 years

Judge bans three men from fishing or holding a fishing licence anywhere in Canada

—Image: contributed
Indoor wine tastings still allowed in B.C., not considered a ‘social gathering’

“Tasting is really just part of the retail experience. The analogy I use is you wouldn’t buy a pair of pants without trying them on.”

A sign on a shop window indicates the store is closed in Ottawa, Monday March 23, 2020. The Canadian Federation of Independent Business is raising its estimate for the number of businesses that are considering the possibility of closing permanently. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Adrian Wyld
Small business struggling amid COVID-19 pandemic looks for aid in Liberals’ budget

President Dan Kelly said it is crucial to maintain programs to help businesses to the other side of the pandemic

The National Security and Intelligence Committee of Parliamentarians says that includes attempts to steal Canadian research on COVID-19 and vaccines, and sow misinformation. (AP Photo/Esteban Felix)
Intelligence committee warns China, Russia targeting Canadian COVID-19 research

Committee also found that the terrorist threat to Canada has shifted since its last such assessment

Most Read