Saanich Police have issued a warning to members of the public, particularly the Chinese community, after an attempted “virtual kidnapping” took place earlier this week.
On October 23rd, while Saanich Police were assisting Vancouver Police in a related ongoing extortion scheme, the family of the victim in Saanich was contacted by the suspected fraudsters.
The scam, which police call “virtual kidnapping” followed a pattern that is common with similar extortion attempts that have been reported several times in Vancouver and the Lower Mainland.
“The victim typically receives a phone call and is convinced there is a warrant for their arrest in China, or that Chinese police need help with an investigation,” says S/Sgt Chris Horsley.
“The suspects then tell the victim to go into hiding and to make fake videos claiming they’ve been kidnapped. The scammers send the videos to the victim’s family and friends asking for money to pay for their release.”
Fortunately in this case, the family of the victim contacted local police to report the incident as soon as they received the extortion call.
“Police from outside Canada will never arrest you in this country, ask for photos
or videos of yourself pretending to be a victim of crime,” says S/Sgt Horsley. “Any contact from international authorities should be through your local police.
A similar incident was reported in Victoria last year when a woman was held against her will and her family was being extorted for money in a virtual kidnapping.
Things to remember
Saanich 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:
- The Chinese Police or government cannot arrest you in Canada.
- All policing related contact from the Chinese government will be through local police.
- 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.
- 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).
- The Saanich Police Department is here to help you. If you feel unsafe or threatened, please call them either by dialling 911 or (250) 475-4321.