The ACCC’s Scamwatch service is warning the Chinese community in Australia to be wary about two alarming scams that involve extortion via fake kidnappings and threats of arrest.
There are two main variations of this scam. First, speaking in Mandarin, a scammer will call directly or leave an ‘urgent’ voice message to call back. The scammer will impersonate a parcel delivery service and/or Chinese authorities and claim you are in serious trouble as they have intercepted a package addressed to you with fraudulent documents such as fake passports.
The scammer will then threaten you with extradition to China to face criminal charges in court unless money is sent to them. They will claim this money is needed to prove your innocence while they investigate the supposed crime.
The scammer will tell their victims, usually students, that they have been involved in criminal activity, and threaten them and even their family, with criminal sanctions unless they pretend they have been kidnapped, including by taking photos of themselves bound and gagged.
Scammers will then use these photos to extort money from the student’s family by claiming the student has been kidnapped.
How do I protect myself from this scam?
Anyone can fall victim to a scam, so the best way to protect yourself is to be educated and aware of how the scam works and to warn your friends and family.
If you are concerned for your safety or wellbeing, then you can contact the Safer Community Team on 9266 4444 for a confidential discussion. Alternatively, you can contact Curtin Connect on 1300 222 888 for support.
If you believe you have fallen victim to a scam, contact your local Police station, your bank or other service providers which might be impacted immediately.
Tips for students:
- Don’t answer phone calls from unknown and private caller IDs. If it is important, the caller will leave a message and you can return it later.
- Don’t provide or disclose any personal information to unsolicited calls, even if they appear to come from a Government organisation.
- Never give a credit card or online bank account details over the phone.
- Take note of any details, like websites and numbers, that have been provided and double-check these to ensure it is credible.
- Subscribe to Scamwatch radar alerts to stay up-to-date with the latest scam alerts.
If you are concerned that your identity has been compromised, contact the National Identity and Cyber Support Service (IDCARE) now.