Authorities are warning Australia’s Chinese community to be wary of a bizarre scam in which students are tricked into posing as kidnapping victims.
The callers tell the students they’ve engaged in criminal activity and threaten them with criminal sanctions unless they take photos of themselves bound and gagged.
The photos are then used to extort money from the victim’s family by claiming the students have been kidnapped, the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission’s said on Monday.
That scam and another one has already bilked about 900 people out of more than $1.5 million this year alone, the ACCC’s Scamwatch service said.
“These scams are particularly distressing, and we’re seeing a dramatic spike in the Chinese community being targeted,” said ACCC deputy chairwoman Delia Rickard.
“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 other scam involves a Mandarin speaker calling Chinese Australians impersonating Chinese authorities or a parcel delivery service.
They allege to have have intercepted a package addressed to the victim with fraudulent documents such as fake passports.
The caller threatens them with extradition to China to face criminal charges unless money is sent to them to prove their innocence.
News: Threat and kidnap scams continue to target Chinese community https://t.co/4jQibJJpyB
— ACCC (@acccgovau) September 15, 2019
“If you’re ever called by someone making threats about arrest or deportation, it is a scam,” Ms Rickard said.
“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.
“Don’t fall for their threats. Instead, hang up the phone and report it to your local police. If you think the scammer has your bank account details, contact your bank immediately.”