RCMP reports UBC student involved in virtual kidnapping incident

The BC RCMP has reported an instance of virtual kidnapping involving a UBC student.

On May 27, the university RCMP responded to a report from the student’s roommate, who called the police saying the victim’s family in China was being extorted. The suspects reportedly posed as Chinese police officers and demanded money from the family for the safe return of the victim.

The student, reported to be a Chinese national, was safely recovered after the RCMP and the Vancouver Police Department tracked her to a residence in the 6000 block of Fremlin Street.

The RCMP determined this to be a “virtual kidnapping incident” and said they are following protocol for such incidents. The Ubyssey has contacted the RCMP UBC detachment for comment.

Many similar instances of virtual kidnapping took place in the Lower Mainland and in connection to UBC in 2017.

In a press release, the RCMP wrote that “[t]his latest incident appears to be targeting female Chinese nationals again.”

“The RCMP would like to remind the Chinese community that these automated calls are fraudulent,” said RCMP Staff Sergeant Janelle Shoihet in the release. “Anyone who receives similar calls should not comply with any demands and hang-up immediately.”

UBC Campus Security in its own release urged anyone receiving similar calls to contact RCMP.

In an interview with The Ubyssey, Corporal Chris Manseau, an RCMP media relations officer, said that the RCMP wants people to feel comfortable contacting the police if they’ve received similar calls to gauge whether this is part of a broader string of incidents.

“The difficult thing with these types of incidents as we’ve found in the past was that we’re not sure if they’re being underreported,” said Cpl. Manseau. “So we don't know if it's actually a part of a greater trend.”

This article was updated May 29 at 4:28 p.m. to include comments from Cpl. Chris Manseau.

This is an evolving story and will be updated as more information becomes available.