The Vancouver Police Department (VPD) has issued a warning to residents about virtual kidnappings.
Earlier this week, foreign fraudsters tried to extort a 27-year-old Vancouver man of thousands of dollars. With that in mind, VPD is advising people on how to avoid falling victim to such a crime.
In a media release, VPD Sgt. Aaron Roed noted that these crimes typically begin with a phone call to trick the victim into thinking that the Chinese police are seeking them out. Often, the caller will say that there is a warrant for their arrest in China, or that Chinese people need help with an investigation, says Roed.
The caller will then tell the victim to go into hiding and produce fake videos claiming that they’ve been kidnapped. With these videos, the caller will contact the victim’s family and seek money in exchange for the victim’s “release.”
In the aforementioned case, the 27-year-old man’s family contacted police before sending any money to the criminal. However, VPD says many incidents don’t even go reported, while others are only reported by the family after the victim has fallen for the fraudulent call and gone into hiding.
According to VPD, many virtual kidnapping victims are “typically women in their early 20s from Mainland China who are in Canada studying on a student visa.”
Roed noted that police from outside of Canada “will never arrest you in this country, ask for photos or videos of yourself pretending to be a victim of crime.” Should any international authorities need to make contact, they would do so through local police, said Roed.
VPD says anyone receiving a phone call from someone claiming to represent a foreign policy agency is advised to call 9-1-1 immediately. Further, 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.