'Distressing' Kidnap Scam Targeting Chinese Students
The Australian Competition and Consumer Commission has warned of a kidnapping scam targeting the Chinese community in Australia.
About 900 reports of this scam have been reported to ScamWatch in 2019, usually targeting Chinese students studying in Australia.
The ACCC estimates $1.5 million has been lost already in 2019, up from the total $1.2 million lost through this scam in 2018.
“These scams are particularly distressing, and we’re seeing a dramatic spike in the Chinese community being targeted," ACCC Deputy Chair Delia Rickard said.
"In July alone, the Chinese speaking community lost over three quarters of a million dollars. We’ve seen several individuals lose tens of thousands of dollars."'
The scam begins with the victim receiving a call in Mandarin claiming to be a parcel delivery company or Chinese authorities, the ACCC said.
The person will be told they are in "serious" trouble after a package addressed to them was intercepted containing fraudulent documents, including fake passports.
The scammer will then claim the victim will be extradited by Chinese authorities to face criminal charges if they do not pay money to prove their innocence while the 'crime' is being investigated.
A second part of the scam involves a fake kidnapping plot to extort money from the victim's family.
The scammer will claim criminal sanctions will be brought against the victim and their family, unless they pretend to have been kidnapped. In some cases, the person is then asked to send through photos of themselves bound and gagged.
These photos are then sent to the families of the victims, claiming they have been kidnapped and a ransom must be paid.
"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," Rickard said.
The ACCC told 10 daily it was not known if the scammers were working from inside Australia.
“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,” Rickard said.
READ MORE: The Top Three Scams Aussies Are Falling For
The ACCC advises that if a person receives a call threatening arrest or deportation, it is always a scam and to immediately report it to local police. It also recommends contacting bank providers if there is any suspicion scammers have accessed their bank details.