Calgary police warn international students about 'virtual kidnapping' scam
Canada June 1, 2018 3:52 pm Calgary police warn international students about âvirtual kidnappingâ scam
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An elaborate âvirtual kidnappingâ scheme that targetted a student and his family has the Calgary police warning the cityâs international student community not to be fooled by these internet-based scammers.
âOn Sunday, May 5, a family living in China, who had a son studying abroad in Calgary, contacted their local police agency to report a ransom request they received through their sonâs social media account,â a Calgary police news release said Friday.Story continues below
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Police said the alleged scammers said that the student had been kidnapped in Calgary and if the family didnât pay the ransom, the m an would be harmed.
READ MORE: Mounties warn of rise in âvirtual kidnappingâ scams targeting Chinese nationals
Calgary police said they were contacted by Chinese law enforcement authorities and investigators began looking for the supposedly kidnapped student, police said.
âDetectives were able to quickly track down the familyâs son who had also been contacted by the scammers and had been convinced to hide out at a Calgary hotel,â the news release said.
Calgary police said there have been similar âvirtual kidnappingsâ in other cities across the country and that the scammers use similar techniques to try to get money out of their victims.
Sometimes the scammers claim to be law enforcement officials and threaten to arrest and deport the victim, police said.
READ MORE: âVirtual kidnappingâ scam targeting Chinese students back in Vancouver: police
âOffenders directed the victim to get rid of all communication devices and credit cards, which could be traced, making it impossible for family members to reach them,â police said. âAt the same time, scammers were contacting the victimâs family to make ransom demands.â
Police said in the news release that the scammers also use video as a way to convince the victimâs family that itâs a legitimate kidnapping, showing the victim âunder duress.â
âThese videos are often edited from videos that the scammers have taken while posing as government officials,â police said in the release.
Police said scammers use a variety of âaggressive techniquesâ to gain compliance from the victim and their families. Often, certain behaviours from a friend or loved may indicate that they have been targetted by the scammers. Police released the following list of âred flagsâ for friends, family and other s to be on the lookout for:
- Long phone calls: the scammer may force the victim to stay on the phone for hours at a time â" and theyâll force the victim to not tell anyone who they are on the line with.
- Calls from phone numbers that appear to come from government agencies, the police or consulates â" also known as âspoofing.â These official-looking phone numbers have been âspoofedâ to appear they come from legitimate sources.
- Scammers will often âconvince victims to leave work or school immediately without an explanation, make large cash withdrawals, and pack suitcases and leave their residence immediately.â
READ MORE: Edmonton police warn of âvirtual kidnappingâ scheme targeting Chinese students
Calgary police said they are working with local educational institutions to raise awareness about these virtual kidnappings.
The University of Calgary said in an emailed statement to Global News Friday that it is aware of the issue and has been working with police and the Chinese consulate.
âOn May 11, we distributed a message from the Chinese consulate warning of the scam to our students who are Chinese nationals,â the statement said. âThe university is committed to supporting the safety and security of all of our students.â
The university added that it has specialized staff in place to help answer questions students may have.
Some tips police said people can use to help themselves from becoming a victim of these scams include:
- Double checking communications from the government directly. This can be done by calling a phone number you know is legitimate. Donât use the number or the contact information provided by the potential scammer. âIf you are concerned, reach out to police or consulate officials,â the release said.
- Government agencies, including the police, âwill not force you to stay on th e phone or prohibit you from seeking legal advice or contacting your friends and family.â
- Donât be pressured to respond to the potential scammer âuntil you have made sure the communication from your family member or the government is legitimate.â
- And a final piece of advice from police: âif you receive communications that your loved one has been kidnapped, contact your local police immediately. Do not transfer money.â
Â© 2018 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.Report an error
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