Virtual kidnapping scheme surfacing again, RCMP warn
2018-04-11 10:32 PDT
An extortion scheme that deceives victims into believing their loved ones have been kidnapped is surfacing once again, warns the Lower Mainland RCMP.
In August 2017, a joint task force was created to address and coordinate information about the telecommunications fraud that targeted Chinese foreign nationals. Working closely with the Consulate General of the People’s Republic of China and post-secondary institutions, the RCMP launched a public education campaign detailing how the scheme worked. In December, a recording of an automated call used by the suspects was also released in Mandarin. See December news release. There were no new reports until this past week when police received a number of calls from around the Lower Mainland.
The scheme begins when a victim receives an automated call from what appears to be a Chinese government phone number. The suspects claim to be a government representative or police officer. Victims are made to believe they are implicated in an investigation in China and are convinced to pay money for the issue to be resolved. In some cases, victims are instructed to isolate themselves and avoid Canadian police. Their families are then contacted and extorted for the return of their loved ones.
The Chinese consulate in Vancouver reminds Chinese nationals in Canada, should anyone be involved in a criminal investigation in China, legal documents will be sent by formal written notice through the Chinese Embassy in Ottawa or Consulate General in Vancouver, Montreal, Toronto and Calgary. The above –mentioned diplomatic or consular agencies will not contact suspects by phone, nor will they ask for personal banking information.
We urge anyone who may be a victim of this crime to call your local police department or RCMP detachment or call Crime Stoppers at 1-800-222-TIPS (8477) or text BCTIP to 274637.
Protect your identity: DO NOT GIVE OUT your address, phone number, date of birth, credit card number or any other personal information to people or websites you don’t know. DO NOT post photos of your Student ID, Drivers License, certificates or anything else that can be copied.
Protect your location : Digital images have data attached so, remove the metadata from your photos. Depending on the device used, it could have the date/time/GPS co-ordinates of where it was taken and much more information attached to it.
Protect your reputation: Be careful of what you say on-line. If your posts/comments cause someone concern or fear, if they are hateful or derogatory, those could follow you for a long time and could form part of a crime.
Be sure you understand what is being told to you on-line. Different cultures, backgrounds, and language barriers, may compound the issue and lead to either a misunderstanding or the commission of an offence.
BE CAUTIOUS. If it is too good to be true it usually is. If you receive an offer of free money, a “get rich quick” scheme, or are asked to send a credit card number to secure a prize, these are attempts to get detailed personal information in order to steal your identity or bank/credit card information. KEEP YOURSELF SAFE!
If you find you are the victim of a crime, report it to the police. If it involves someone at VIU report it to Student Affairs, Building 200 Room 228 or call Jim Ketelsen at 250.740.6426. And let VIU Security know of this or any other criminal activity in our campus.
Support from VIU"s Technology department
Below are tips on what you can do on campus to help reduce your risk of being a victim
Safe Walk Program
(250-740-6600 external phone) (6600 VIU internal phone) (Assistance Call Box)
Safe Walk is a Campus Security program. This will provide escorted walks on the Nanaimo campus. By contacting the dispatcher via the number listed below, you will be accompanied on your walk on campus or to your car by Security. The patrollers are equipped with two-way radios, safety vests and flashlights. Practice the principle of "safety in numbers" and contact the Safe Walk Program (6600) for evening walks on campus.
- Stay in well-lit areas. Walk midpoint between curbs and buildings, try to keep from using alleys or less traveled routes between buildings, and avoid bushes.
- Stay near people and avoid taking short cuts alone through vacant lots and other deserted places.
- Carry only necessary cards and money.
- Walk with someone else whenever possible, and set up a buddy system with your friends.
- Do not jog alone late at night, or walk through the trails alone.
- Use the Safe Walk Program to escort you to or from your vehicle (only on VIU property).
- Do not wear a personal stereo system or play music so loudly that you are not aware of your surroundings.
If you suspect that you are being followed:
- Be suspicious. Keep looking behind you so the person knows you cannot be surprised.
- Cross the street or change direction.
- Go to a well-lit area, enter a residence or building, go to the library; anywhere there are people and telephones.
- Approach a parking attendant or student patrol and request help.
- Notice and remember as much as possible.
- Report the incident immediately to Security (250-740-6600).
VIU Safety App
One of the easiest ways to find out what’s happening on campus during an emergency or snow closure is through VIU Safety App. Download the app, be sure to enable push notifications, and if anything is happening on campus relating to safety and health that you need to know about, you will get an automatic notification.