Kidnapping Scam Targeting International Students

June 6th, 2018

Late last year, three Chinese international students in Toronto had been targeted by a virtual kidnapping scam in which they received threatening phone calls and were told to go into hiding and not to use cellphones or social media, or their families in China will be hurt. Meanwhile, the suspects would contact the victims’ families in China and request ransom to have their children released. The latest incident occurred in Vancouver recently.

Please refer to the RCMP news release below for more information about the scam

Virtual kidnapping scheme surfacing again, RCMP warn B.C.

2018-04-11 10:32 PDT

(Chinese version)

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 in Mandarin 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, Montréal, Toronto and Calgary. The above-mentioned diplomatic or consular agencies will not contact suspects by phone, nor will they ask for personal banking information.

The RCMP urge anyone who receives similar calls or messages to call 911, their local police, or Crime Stoppers at 1-800-222-TIPS (8477).

Link to full news release

While the investigation is still going on, the Immigration, Refugee and Citizenship Canada and RCMP are warning the public of this re-emerging extortion scheme targeting Chinese international students. York University expresses deep concern for our student community. We urge our international students to pay extra attention to their personal and financial safety. Here are a few basic safety tips:

  1. Do not meet strangers without company.
  2. Stay connected with friends and families.
  3. Report suspicious phone calls, text messages or emails, and do not reply.
  4. Do not release any personal or banking information to anyone.
  5. Be aware of your daily bank transactions.
  6. Report any crime or suspicion of a crime immediately at the numbers provided below.
  7. Speak out and seek help when needed.
Contact Information For Emergency And Crime Reporting

Emergency: 911

Toronto-Police: 416-808-2222

Crime Stopper: 416-222-8477


York International offers support to our international students. Available services and programs include student life on campus, safety, health insurance, immigration advising, student orientations, peer programs, etc. Please feel free to contact us if needed, and find our contact information below.

Contact Information @ York University

York Security: 416-736-5470

Critical Incident Reporting Phone Number: 416-736-5231

Personal Counselling Phone Number: 416-736-5297