Const. Pierre Bourdages

Const. Pierre Bourdages says a woman lost tens of thousands of dollars in a scam that may be targetted at Asian students in Halifax. (CBC)

Halifax Regional Police are warning international students at the city's universities about a scam apparently targeting Asian students.

A woman recently told police she had been scammed out of tens of thousands of dollars by a man who approached her on campus offering his help to get her into a prestigious Ontario university.

"In this case the suspect asked for an upfront fee that was substantial — several thousands of dollars — to start enlisting his help," said Halifax Regional Police Const. Pierre Bourdages.

"From that point, the victim was asked to provide several thousands of dollars in addition to that to cover some potential English language training and also to cover the first year tuition."

Bourdages said the victim was approached in the fall of 2012 and only recently realized she had been duped when she travelled to Ontario on her own dime and discovered there were no applications made for her at any university.

"Whatever was promised to her never materialized and she unfortunately lost all that money," Bourdages told CBC News on Monday.

"We wanted to put the warning out even though we only had one complainant — that this occurred and that if anyone has received similar offers or has been a victim of a similar scam, to contact police and report the matter."

Halifax Regional Police would not disclose which university the victim studied at or exactly how much money was lost.

Bourdages said most of the interaction between the student and the suspect was conducted in Mandarin.

"The suspect came down looking very professional, very convincing, that he could get this student into another university. Although the complainant already speaks quite good English, the suspect offered more English language training," he said.

"If it's too good to be true, it probably is. You can make these applications into any university you wish on your own. You don't have to have someone helping you through that especially when they're asking for a large amount of money up front."