File Photo (Jay Wallace Images)

An international student from China is revealed to have been the victim of a ‘virtual kidnapping’ in Victoria earlier this week.

Victoria Police officers responded to a call on May 14th where a woman reported her roommate missing.

After attempting to locate her, police discovered that she was being held against her will and her family was being extorted for money in a crime known as virtual kidnapping.

Prevalent in Vancouver and Lower Mainland

This particular type of kidnapping has been reported several times in Vancouver and the Lower Mainland, and its occurrence in Victoria has prompted Victoria Police to issue a warning to the Chinese community on the island.

Suspects usually target young female students in their 20s who are in Canada from China on a student visa. The victims get a call from a number that appears to be from the Chinese Consulate, after which the caller tells them that they are wanted by police in China, or that Chinese police need their help with an investigation.

During the extortion, the perpetrators convince the victims to make a fake video indicating that they have been kidnapped, and these videos are then sent to their families in exchange for ransom. She is then instructed to head to a motel or short term rental to hide from the Canadian police.

The victim in Victoria was physically unharmed during the ordeal, but was emotionally traumatized and her family was extorted out of a large sum of money.

Things to remember

Victoria Police have released a list of legal facts for Chinese community members in Canada to keep in mind if they ever receive such a phone call:

  1. The Chinese Police or government cannot arrest you in Canada.
  2. All policing related contact from the Chinese government will be through local police.
  3. Canadian or Chinese authorities will not ask you to destroy a phone or to take photos or videos of yourself pretending to be the victim of a crime.
  4. If you are contacted by someone claiming to be the Chinese police and they ask you to  aid an investigation by pretending to be the victim of a crime, call (250) 995-7654 for assistance (even if they tell you not to).
  5. The Victoria Police Department is here to help you. If you feel unsafe or threatened, please call us either by dialling 911 or (250) 995-7654.

Click here for a version of the press release in Mandarin.

Click here for a version of the press release in Cantonese.