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Every year criminals use scams and fraud to obtain money from individuals through many different means. These include, but are not limited to: identity theft, telemarketing scams, door-to-door scams, online scams, business scams, mail scams, email and text message scams.
While many people don’t think it could happen to them, fraudsters use increasing sophisticated tactics and target people of all ages.
In the News: Virtual Kidnapping Scam
Last updated: Sep 2018
Over the past several months, the RCMP has released three warnings about a cyber-extortion scheme that tricks victims into believing their loved ones have been kidnapped.
While similar schemes are being reported worldwide, incidents in the Lower Mainland appear to be targeted at international students, specifically Chinese nationals, attending schools in the Greater Vancouver area. As members of the University community, please remain aware and educated about potential virtual kidnapping scams.
What is a virtual kidnapping scam?
These scams trick international students and their families into believing that their loved ones have been kidnapped or will be harmed. The RCMP advisories below detail the types of phone calls that may be received.
How you can protect yourself:
- Communicate often with family and friends who live abroad, and educate them on the virtual kidnapping scam.
- Anyone who receives similar calls should not comply with any demands. Do not transfer money to the caller; do not give the caller any personal details.
- Hang-up immediately.
- Call your local police department or RCMP detachment. The police are here to help and support you.
Students are encouraged to share this message, as well as the below police advisories with their families.
RCMP News Releases:
Government of Canada News Release:
- Be careful about providing personal information, especially banking or credit card details. Only provide this information when you are certain a company is legitimate
- If in doubt, ask for written information, a call back number, references, or time to think over an offer
- Ask the advice of someone you trust such as a university staff member or even your banker
- The deal sounds too good to be true
- You must provide your private financial information
- You are asked to send or accept cash, money orders, or gift cards rather than through traceable means like cheque or credit card
- The person claims to hold a position of some authority (government official, tax officer, banking officer, etc.)
- The person asks you many personal questions and attempts to be overly friendly
What to do if you are a victim
- Step 1: Gather all information about the fraud (e.g. documents, receipts, emails, text messages)
- Step 2: Report the incident to your local police or RCMP. Keep a log of all your calls
- Step 3: Contact the Canadian Anti-Fraud Centre
- Step 4: Report the incident to the financial institution where the money was sent
- Step 5: Report to any relevant websites if the fraud took place online
- Step 6: Report to credit bureaus to place flags on all accounts (e.g. Equifax and TransUnion)
- RCMP in Canada: A Newcomer's Guide - RCMP
- RCMP Newcomer Handouts - RCMP
- RCMP - Virtual Kidnapping Poster - RCMP
- RCMP - Virtual Kidnapping Booklet - RCMP
- Scams & Fraud – RCMP
- Fraud Types - Canadian Anti- Fraud Centre
- Cyber Awareness Resources - SFU IT Services
- Looking out for Fraud as a Newcomer - Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada
- Protect Yourself Against Fraud - Canada Revenue Agency
- International Student Safety - Vancouver Police Department