Vancouver police sent out a renewed warning Thursday about virtual kidnappings after foreign fraudsters tried to extort a 27-year-old Vancouver man out of thousands of dollars Wednesday night.
The department’s major crime section is investigating what police are calling an “elaborate extortion attempt” that was thwarted after police were alerted. And police are saying it has all the same hallmarks as similar cases last year.
“The victim typically receives a phone call and is convinced there is a warrant for their arrest in China, or that Chinese police need help with an investigation,” media relations office Sgt. Aaron Roed said in a press release.
“The suspects then tell the victim to go into hiding and to make fake videos claiming they’ve been kidnapped,” he said. “The scammers send the videos to the victim’s family and friends asking for money to pay for their release.”
Roed said victims are typically women in their early 20s from Mainland China who are in Canada studying on a student visa.
Investigators believe many of these incidents have gone unreported. Others come to light after concerned relatives phone police asking for help.
“Police from outside Canada will never arrest you in this country, ask for photos or videos of yourself pretending to be a victim of crime,” Roed said. “Any contact from international authorities should be through your local police.”
Anyone receiving phone calls from someone claiming to be representing a foreign police agency should call 911 immediately.
Anyone with information about virtual kidnappings is asked to call VPD’s major crime section at 604-717-3679 or Crime Stoppers at 1-800-222-8477.