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BC RCMP issue Public warning: Virtual kidnapping incident

The BC RCMP’s Major Crime Unit is warning the public of a potential resurgence in virtual kidnapping activity following an incident involving a Chinese National studying at the University of British Columbia.

On May 27, 2020, University RCMP responded to a report from the student’s roommate who called police on behalf of the victim’s family in China after suspects attempted to extort money from them. Like other virtual kidnapping incidents, the suspects, posing as Chinese police officers, demanded cash from the victim’s family for the safe return of their family member.

The University RCMP tracked the victim to a residence in the 6000-block of Fremlin Street in Vancouver and with the assistance of the Vancouver Police Department, she was safely recovered. RCMP Major Crime investigators determined this met the criteria of a virtual kidnapping incident and the appropriate response protocol was put into place.

A series of similar incidents took place around the Lower Mainland in 2017 and 2018. Numerous victims reported being contacted by suspects claiming to be Chinese government officials. The victims were told they were implicated in crimes in China. The suspects then coerced the victims into a series of actions, warning if they didn't cooperate, their families in China would be harmed. Simultaneously, families in China were contacted by the suspects who convinced them that their loved ones were being held against their will, which led to a demand for money. In each case, the suspects falsely claimed to be Chinese government officials.

In response to these incidents, on August 30, 2017, the RCMP announced the creation of a joint task force to address and coordinate information about the ongoing extortion. The RCMP launched a significant outreach strategy aimed at educating those who could be potential victims and there were no further incidents reported up until mid- October when the RCMP received three more reports. This latest incident appears to be targeting female Chinese nationals again.

"The RCMP would like to remind the Chinese community that these automated calls are fraudulent", says S/Sgt. Janelle Shoihet, Senior Media Relations Officer, BC RCMP. Anyone who receives similar calls should not comply with any demands and hang-up immediately.

The BC RCMP Major Crime Unit would like to thank University and Richmond RCMP detachments and the Vancouver Police Department for their assistance with this investigation.

More information can be found on the BC RCMP website at this link Be aware of fraudulent callers.

We urge anyone who receives similar calls to immediately report the incident to your local police department or RCMP detachment. 

Released by: S/Sgt. Janelle Shoihet Senior Media Relations Officer BC RCMP Communication Services Office No.: 778-290-2929

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