Victoria, BC – Investigators are warning the public, specifically members of our Chinese community, as they continue investigating an elaborate extortion scheme known as a “virtual kidnapping.”
Officers were called to investigate after a young woman was reported missing by her roommate on the evening of Monday, May 14th. As the investigation progressed, investigators learned of evidence pointing to the young woman being held against her will. After additional investigative efforts, a search for the missing young woman was successful in locating her that night. She was physically unharmed and appears to have been victimized, along with her family, in a virtual kidnapping.
In addition to the police resources utilized, and the emotional cost to the victim and her family, the suspects were able to take a significant amount of money from the family before the extortion was uncovered.
What is a virtual kidnapping?
There have been several reports of these types of incidents in Vancouver and the Lower Mainland, including two in recent weeks.
The perpetrators of these crimes often target young women who are in their early 20s, from mainland China and are in Canada studying on a student visa. The victim receives a phone call, often from a number that appears to be from the Chinese Consulate. The victim is then informed that there is either a warrant for her arrest in China, or that the Chinese police need her help with an investigation. As part of the extortion, the suspects eventually convince the victim to make fake videos indicating that she has been kidnapped or is the victim of a crime.
These videos are then sent to the victim’s family members, who are, in turn, extorted for money. The victim is then told to go to a motel or a short-term rental to hide from Canadian police.
What can you do?
If you are contacted by someone claiming to be from the Chinese Consulate or the Chinese Police who ask you to participate in a similar occurrence, you are asked to call our non-emergency line at (250) 995-7654, or your local police.
Speak with students and visitors in your community from mainlaind China about these extortions and encourage them to contact police if they feel unsafe or are contacted by people claiming to be the Chinese authorities who are asking them to pretend to be the victim of a crime.
WARNING | EXTORTIONS TARGETING CHINESE STUDENTS
- 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 be of assist and investigation by pretending to be the victim of a crime, call (250) 995-7654 for assistance (even if they tell you not to).
- The Victoria Police Department is here to help you. If you feel unsafe or threatened, please call us either by dialing 911 or (250) 995-7654.