Virtual Kidnapping Scam

The Victoria Police Department (VPD) has received an increase in reports from international students who have been targets of extortion schemes known as a “virtual kidnapping”. The perpetrators’ goal is to extort a money from the families of victims.

What is a virtual kidnapping?

The perpetrators of these crimes often target international students who are in Canada.

The victim receives a phone call in the form of a recorded message. If the victim responds to the message they are then informed that there is either a warrant for their arrest in their home country, or that the police need their help with an investigation.

As part of the extortion, the perpetrators eventually convince the victim to make fake videos indicating that they have been kidnapped or are the victim of a crime. These videos are then sent to the victim’s family members, who are, in turn, extorted for money. The victim is then told to go to a motel or a short-term rental to hide from Canadian police.

Often the victims are from mainland China, and the victim receives a phone call in the form of a recorded message in Mandarin or Cantonese, which may appear to be from a consulate or authority.

What can you do?

If you feel unsafe or threatened, please call 911.

If you are asked to participate in a situation similar to what is outlined above, please call your local police – such as the Victoria Police Department (250) 995-7654

Spread the word to your friends and fellow students and encourage them to contact police if they feel unsafe or are contacted by people asking them to pretend to be the victim of a crime.

For VPD's community updates in English, Chinese translations, click the following links:

Information in English

Information in Simplified Chinese

Information in Traditional Chinese