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Australian government warns Chinese residents of kidnap and ransom threat

Editorial Staff

The Australian Consumer and Competition Commission (ACCC) has this morning issued a warning about kidnap and ransom threats made against, in particular, Chinese residents in Australia with more than 1,700 cases reported so far in 2018.

In 2018, Scamwatch has received nearly 1700 reports about these scams, with losses totalling AUD1.15 million. Losses have come from New South Wales, Victoria, Queensland or Western Australia but the scam is targeting people nationwide.

“These scams are particularly nasty and worryingly we’re seeing a dramatic spike in the Chinese community being targeted. In May, there was a 400 per cent increase in reports of these scams and losses more than doubled,” ACCC Acting Chairman Delia Rickard said.

There are two main variations of this scam. First, speaking in Mandarin, a scammer will call victims directly or leave an ‘urgent’ voice message to call back. The scammer will impersonate a parcel delivery service and/or Chinese authorities and claim the victim is in serious trouble as they have intercepted a package addressed to you with fraudulent documents such as fake passports.

The scammer will then threaten the victim with extradition to China to face criminal charges in court unless money is sent to them. They will claim this money is needed to prove your innocence while they investigate the supposed crime.

“In the past month, Scamwatch has received multiple reports of a cruel variation of this scam targeting Chinese students in Australia,” Miss Rickard said.

“The scammer will again claim to student victims that they have been involved in criminal activity and threaten them, and even their family, with criminal sanctions unless they pretend they have been kidnapped, including by taking photos of themselves bound and gagged.”

“Scammers will then use these photos to extort money from the student’s family by claiming the student has been kidnapped,” Miss Rickard said. The most important thing members of the Chinese community in Australia can do
to protect themselves from this scam is be aware about how it works and warn their friends and family.

“If you’re ever called by someone making threats about arrest or deportation, it is a scam. It’s very frightening to receive these calls and scammers use your fear against you so you’ll send them money or participate in a bogus kidnapping,” Miss Rickard said. “Don’t fall for their threats. Instead, hang up the phone and report it to your local police. If you think the scammer has your bank account details, contact your bank immediately.”

Anyone who is targetted with this or any other fraud, etc. in Australia can also report the scam at http://www.scamwatch.gov.au.