News Police

Fake kidnapping

POLICE have warned of a sophisticated extortion scam targeting international students that uses threats of legal action, arrest or deportation, to convince the young victims to fake their own kidnappings, with fraudsters demanding ransom payments from relatives for their safe release.

THE community is being urged to be on high alert for ‘virtual kidnapping’ scams that continue to target international students across the State.
In October alone, three known incidents have been referred to State Crime Command’s Robbery and Serious Crime Squad, who believe the modus operandi of the scammers is changing.
A ‘virtual kidnapping’ is a sophisticated extortion scam that involves young victims faking their own kidnappings following phone calls from fraudsters – who then demand ransom payments from their relatives for their safe release.
Investigators have been told that initial contact is made through a phone call from someone usually speaking in Mandarin and claiming to be a representative from a Chinese authority, such as the Chinese Embassy, Consulate or police.
The caller then convinces the victim that they have been implicated in a crime in China, or that their identity has been stolen, and that they must pay a fee to avoid legal action, arrest or deportation.
The victim is then threatened or coerced into transferring large amounts of money into unknown offshore bank accounts.
In some instances, victims are convinced to fake their own kidnappings – known as a ‘virtual kidnapping’.
Detective Superintendent Joseph Doueihi said anyone who received a call from someone claiming to be a Chinese authority, should be hyper-vigilant in checking their authenticity.
“If you are ever on the receiving end of similar correspondence, the best thing to do is contact the Chinese Consulate to verify the claims, as well as report the matter to the NSW Police Force,” Det Supt Doueihi said.