RCMP Warns of Ongoing Cyber Extortion Scheme

Joseph Keller, Staff Writer

Cloverdale RCMP station. (Flickr/British Columbia Emergency Photography)

The RCMP is asking universities in B.C. to warn students about an ongoing cyber extortion scheme targeting Chinese people in Canada, including international students. In several reported cases, Chinese students in Metro Vancouver received automated calls claiming to be Chinese authorities with the goal of manipulating victims to comply with their demands.

The RCMP outlined the details of the scheme in a release on their website.

In each instance, scammers pretended to be an authority figure with the Chinese police or consulate. The victim is told that their personal information has been compromised and that they are now associated with crimes committed in China. A series of demands is made of the victim, and they are told that if they do not comply, their family will be harmed.

At the same time, the victim’s parents in China are contacted and told that their children are being held against their will, leading to a demand for money.

“From our conversations with the [Chinese] consulate general, they’ve told us that, should someone be in trouble in China, they would not be contacted by an automated phone message. It’s just not how this would occur,” says RCMP Staff Sergeant Annie Linteau. “It’s just very important that the victims contact us right away and not after the fact.”

In the release, the RCMP was purposefully vague about how targeted individuals are being instructed to proceed by scammers. They don’t want targeted individuals to believe that the contacts they received are legitimate, should their instructions fail to match the scenario described by RCMP exactly.

The RCMP urge anyone who receives one of these automated phone calls to refuse to comply with any of the demands made and to contact the police immediately.

“We are very concerned that there may be more victims and we do understand that people may have some apprehension about coming forward, but I want to assure you that the police are here to help you and we will thoroughly investigate these incidents,” wrote Linteau, in the press release issued by the RCMP.

As of now, the RCMP is able to provide few details as to the progress of the active investigation.

“The most important thing right now is for the public to be aware,” says Linteau. “We’ve reached out to the media to make sure that those who appear to be targeted are aware that this is happening.”

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