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

The B.C. Centre for Disease Control is warning customers of a confirmed case of COVID-19 on WestJet flight 195 from Calgary into Victoria on Oct. 11. Passengers seated between rows one and seven should self-minotor for symptoms for the next 14 days. (Black Press Media file photo)
Confirmed COVID case on WestJet flight day after previous exposure on same route

BCCDC warning passengers seated in rows one to seven on WestJet flight 195 on Oct. 11 into Victoria

Steven Puhallo, Jordan Carr, and Taylor Verrall, members of Rishi Sharma’s campaign team, show their solidarity with Sharma (second from right) after an unidentified man hurled racial slurs at him Saturday. Puhallo and Verrall were also present during the incident Saturday night at the corner of Marigold Road and Interurban Road. (Wolf Depner/News Staff)
BC Liberal candidate in Saanich South attacked with racial slurs

Rishi Sharma was putting up election signs when incident happened Saturday night

Michael Friesen, 38, is a Caucasian man standing 6’1” and weighing approximately 220 pounds. (VicPD handout)
VicPD seeking man believed to be ‘actively evading police detection’

Michael Friesen wanted on an unendorsed warrant for various offences

Saanich police are warning residents to be aware of a non-aggressive bear sighting in the 400-block of Haliburton Terrace. (Black Press Media file photo)
Non-aggressive bear spotted in Saanich neighbourhood

Saanich police advise residents to be aware of sighting in the 400-block of Haliburton Terrace

Downtown Sidney has been a hot bed of residential construction, with new housing starts through the first nine months of 2020 reaching 211. (Wolf Depner/News Staff)
Langford, Colwood, Sidney lead region in housing starts

Sidney ahead of Saanich and Victoria with Langford leading all municipalities with 885 units

In this photo provided by Shannon Kiss, smoke from the CalWood Fire billows, Sunday, Oct. 18, 2020, as seen from Gunbarrel, Colo. (Shannon Kiss via AP)
‘First guys out:’ western Canadian air tanker fleet busy despite drop in wildfires

CEO believes wildfires have become more dangerous in recent years as people live closer to where they start

Advance polls are open from Oct. 15 to 21 with election day on Oct. 24. (Black Press Media file photo)
Employee Sophia Lovink shows off a bag of merchandise in Toronto on Thursday, June 11, 2020. (THE CANADIAN PRESS/Nathan Denette)
Canada gets C-average grade on 2nd year of cannabis legalization

Cannabis Council of Canada releases report card on federal government and legalization

(Black Press Media files)
B.C. suburbs could see increased demand for rental units as people work from home

Vancouver’s average monthly rent is the highest out of 35 cities across Canada

Fort St. John councillor Trevor Bolin (B.C. Conservative Party)
BC Conservatives leader fights back after BC Liberals leak 2018 workplace harassment case

Sexual harassment case was connected to employee being terminated, WorkSafeBC found

The BC Ferries vessel the Queen of Oak Bay. (News Bulletin file photo)
‘Buy a boat,’ Horgan advises anti-maskers on BC Ferries

NDP leader John Horgan talks COVID-19 misinformation

Canadian and American flags fly near the Ambassador Bridge at the Canada-USA border crossing in Windsor, Ont. on Saturday, March 21, 2020. Restrictions on non-essential travel between Canada and the United States are being extended until at least Nov. 21. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Rob Gurdebeke
Non-essential travel restrictions at Canada-U.S. border extended to at least Nov. 21

The restrictions do not apply to those providing essential services in either country

The BC Ferries vessel the Queen of Alberni. (News Bulletin file photo)
UPDATE: More sailings cancelled after ferry breaks down

Queen of Alberni out of commission, BC Ferries revises schedules

Jordan Naterer, 25, was last seen Saturday Oct. 10. He planned a hike in the Manning Park area, and has not been seen since. Photo Facebook.
Family devastated as search for missing Manning Park hiker suspended

‘It was an extremely difficult meeting with the parents when we had to tell them.’

Most Read