Chinese Students in Australia Targeted in Kidnapping Scam
Police are raising awareness over a kidnapping scam that forces victims' families to pay huge ransoms to fraudsters.
SYDNEY — Police are raising awareness over a kidnapping scam that forces victims' families to pay huge ransoms to fraudsters.
The scam has been labeled as a 'call center-type' which is being conducted offshore, according to Australian authorities.
In a report via the BBC, a typical scenario of the scam starts with a fraudster pretending to be from the Chinese embassy and calling the victim to inform them that they have been embroiled in a crime in China.
They then demand the student to pay fees to avoid being deported and or to avoid arrest.
In some instances, the students are instructed to cease contact with family and friends, rent a hotel room, and fake their kidnapping to obtain funds from loved ones.
New South Wales Police state that eight so-called 'virtual kidnappings' have been reported this year alone, one of which saw a ransom of $1.43 million paid to the scammers.
Detective Chief Superintendent Darren Bennett stated that in other cases, payments ranged from $14,300 to $214,950; he added that on some occasions every cent the family had, was paid.
Police said that it appeared the scam involved a barrage of automated phone calls sent to anyone with a Chinese surname in the phone book.
Mr. Bennett said of the scammers, 'They cast their net very widely and they're getting a few people who fall for it, which is very lucrative for them.'
New South Wales Police are attempting to prevent the scam before it begins by making vulnerable people aware, saying, 'Students can do two important things to protect themselves against these types of crimes – firstly, be aware they exist and secondly, ask for help early if they think it might be happening to them or someone they know.'
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