The Australian Federal Police (AFP) is warning the public about a complicated fake kidnapping scam, targeting Chinese international students around the world.
The scammers contact the victims, and tell them they are implicated in crimes back home in China, threatening harm to their families if they do not cooperate.
At the same time, the scammers tell the parents in China that their child has been kidnapped, and they must pay a large ransom. The student victims are tricked into filming fake hostage videos, to be shown to their parents or relatives as “proof” they have been “kidnapped”.
In other cases, scammers claim to have intercepted a parcel with your name and address, containing fake passports, or that your bank account has been used for criminal activities.
According to SBS, South Australian Police recently reported two victims lost more than $300,000 to scammers claiming to be from the Shanghai Police. Also, scammers posing as fake Chinese diplomats have stolen around $10 million from victims in Sydney.
The scammers communicate in Mandarin, and pretend to be government officials. In some cases, they claim to be from the Chinese Embassy. The editor of Modern Asian, who is not Chinese or a student, but speaks Mandarin, even received one of these calls.
The Consulate General of the People’s Republic of China has previously advised that Chinese officials will not advise of legal cases, or seek to verify personal information, over the phone.
Similar scams have been reported in the United States and Canada. Reports of the scam in Australia have been shared by INTERPOL with local police, and Chinese authorities.
The AFP advises anyone receiving such calls not to give in to fear, which is what the scammers want. Instead, cease all contact with the scammer, and contact the local police or consulate immediately.
For more information on scams, how to report them and tips on how to protect yourself, visit the Federal Government's Scamwatch website at www.scamwatch.gov.au, where you can find information about scams in various languages.
If you are concerned that your identity has been compromised, contact the national identity and cyber support service (IDCARE) at www.idcare.org.