News / Edmonton

'Virtual kidnapping' scam targets Chinese community

Edmonton police warning of a scam that originated in B.C.

Chi Huanchun, with the Consulate General of the People’s Republic of China in Calgary, speaking at Edmonton police headquarters Thursday.

Kevin Maimann / Metro Edmonton

Chi Huanchun, with the Consulate General of the People’s Republic of China in Calgary, speaking at Edmonton police headquarters Thursday.

Police are warning Edmonton’s Chinese community to be wary of a “virtual kidnapping” scam.

RCMP in lower mainland B.C. notified Edmonton police about the telephone scam, which sees people pose as Chinese law enforcement or government officials and call Chinese foreign nationals in Canada.

The scammers tell their victims – often young women attending post-secondary – that they have been implicated in crimes in China, and then convince them to go into hiding and not trust local police.

Once the victim has gone into hiding, the scam artist contacts their family in China to tell them their daughter has been kidnapped and they need to send money.

“We felt that the best way to combat these types of crimes was to be proactive and reach out to our partners in the Chinese community,” said Sgt. Kevin Harrison with the Edmonton Police Service crisis negotiators unit.

He said no calls have been reported to police in Edmonton yet, though he learned through speaking with the Chinese consulate that people in the city have received similar calls.

“It’s very possible that there are victims that we don’t know about,” Harrison said.

He said it’s hard to know where the scam artists are actually located.

EPS' relationship with police in China is “complex,” he said, but there is a process in place to reach out to them if needed.

Chi Huanchun, with the Consulate General of the People’s Republic of China in Calgary, said she has heard of 20 to 30 similar calls in Calgary but is not aware of any in which the money was sent.

“Whenever we receive a phone call from the Chinese community, we recommend them to call the local police. And also we remind them to not give out their personal information and to protect their money,” Huanchun said.

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