RCMP issues alert for “virtual kidnapping scheme”

On the request of the RCMP, UBC has just released a broadcast email alerting students, staff and faculty of a “virtual kidnapping scheme.” Since the RCMP is still in the investigation process, it is unclear whether anyone in the UBC community is directly affected.

However, the RCMP’s press release stated that there are six recorded incidents thus far in the Lower Mainland with the victims being “female Chinese nationals attending schools in the greater Vancouver area.”

According to the press release, the scheme involves contacting victims through an automated phone message while impersonating Chinese government officials. This method is used to convince victims that “their personal information had been compromised and that they were linked to crimes in China,” in order to force them into “a series of actions.” Threats about their families are also used as an alternative coercion.

At the same time, it is also reported that the victims’ families are being falsely alerted about them being in danger — as a second source of extortion.

Due to the victims’ common background and the scheme’s impersonations of Chinese government officials, the RCMP is currently working with the Consulate General of the People’s Republic of China in Vancouver to solve the problem.

“Should any Chinese citizens be involved in any legal cases in China, the relevant legal documents will be mailed to them directly from Chinese diplomatic missions. No phone call will be made to verify any personal information, especially the personal banking information,” read the press release.

Given the extortion aspect, the RCMP also offers further tips and reassures victims about coming forward.

“I would add that should anyone receive such a message or phone call they should not comply with the demands," said Staff Sergeant Annie Linteau, a BC RCMP senior media relations officer.

“The RCMP is concerned that similar incidents have occurred. We are very concerned that there may be more victims and we do understand that people may have some apprehension about coming forward, but, I want to assure you that the police are here to help you and we will thoroughly investigate these incidents.”

Anyone who might be a victim or have further information is urged to call the local police department or RCMP detachment or call Crime Stoppers at 1-800-222-TIPS (8477) or text BCTIP to 274637.