VPD renew warnings about virtual kidnappings involving foreign fraudsters

Oct 24 2019, 2:50 pm

Vancouver Police are investigating a virtual kidnapping case, and once again warning the public about the elaborate extortion scheme.

According to a release from VPD, an incident involving foreign fraudsters who attempted to extort a 27-year-old Vancouver man of thousands of dollars occurred last night. Police were alerted and able to intervene before the situation escalated.

Police say the scam “has all the hallmarks of similar virtual kidnappings that happened last year.”

In 2018, VPD received multiple reports of virtual kidnappings and attempted virtual kidnappings.

“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,” said Sgt. Aaron Roed, in a release.

“The suspects then tell the victim to go into hiding and to make fake videos claiming they’ve been kidnapped. The scammers send the videos to the victim’s family and friends asking for money to pay for their release.”

Victims tend to be in their early 20s from Mainland China who are in Canada studying on a student visa. VPD believes many of these incidents have gone unreported while others are only reported 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,” said Roed. “Any contact from international authorities should be through your local police.”

The VPD’s Major Crime Section is currently investigating last night’s incident.

Anyone receiving phone calls from someone claiming to represent a foreign police agency should call 9-1-1 immediately. Anyone with information about virtual kidnappings is asked to call VPD’s Major Crime Section at 604-717-3679 or Crime Stoppers 1-800-222-8477.