Student safely located after leaving country
By Jake Wray, News Editor
A student in New Westminster was recently caught up in a kidnapping scam orchestrated through social media, according to the New Westminster Police Department.
The student, who attended Douglas College according to an article from Tri-City News, received a threatening message on Chinese social media service WeChat. The message, sent by scammers, said the student’s parents would be harmed unless she followed the scammers’ instructions.
The scammers forced her to leave Canada. Meanwhile, the scammers used WeChat to contact the student’s family claiming they had kidnapped her. The scammers demanded ransom from the family.
The student was safely located in another country and the New Westminster Police Department is investigating the incident, according to a press release issued by the New Westminster Police Department.
“When incidents like this occur, students are threatened, defrauded of money, and coerced to go into hiding,” Sergeant Jeff Scott said in the press release. “Once the online scammers have intimidated the student into hiding, they contact the parents and defraud them out of money.”
This scam template has been used to target Chinese and Taiwanese university students across Canada and around the world. News reports indicate victims in Vancouver, Calgary, Halifax, Montreal, Australia and numerous other locations.
Two students in Vancouver were targeted by the scam in early May, according to a report by CBC News. A separate CBC News report says two students in Calgary were also targeted in early May.
“The duress it puts the family in is unbelievable,” said acting duty inspector Jeff Bell of the Calgary Police Service, according to CBC News.
The scam has targeted at least 25 families and netted approximately $2 million AUD in Australia, the Australian Federal Police told ABC News.