Virtual kidnapping scheme surfacing again: police

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An extortion scheme that convinces people into believing that their loved ones have been kidnapped is resurfacing in the Lower Mainland.

B.C. RCMP, the Consulate General of the People’s Republic of China and post-secondary institutions collaborated on a public education campaign explaining how the scheme worked last year. Police say there were no new reports until this past week when they received a number of calls from around the Lower Mainland.

The scheme starts with an automated call from what appears to be a Chinese government phone number. The caller claims to be a government representative or police officer and convinces the victim that they are implicated in an investigation in China and must pay money to resolve the issue.

Victims are sometimes asked to isolate themselves and avoid Canadian police. Their families are contacted and extorted for the return of their loved ones.

The Chinese consulate in Vancouver reminds Chinese nationals in Canada that if anyone was involved in a criminal investigation in China, legal documents would be sent by formal written notice through the Chinese Embassy in Ottawa or Consulate General in Vancouver, Montreal, Toronto and Calgary.