Missing students may have fallen victim to kidnapping scam: Toronto Police
Similar scams targeting Chinese students have been reported elsewhere in Canada
Toronto Police say two missing students may have fallen victim to a scam targeting Chinese nationals studying in Canada.
Juanwen Zhang, 20, and Ke "Jaden" Xu, 16, were last seen on Nov. 8 and 9, respectively. Police say they have information that suggests they may have received threatening phone calls before disappearing.
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"They're being told to go into hiding or their families in China will be hurt," said Const. Caroline de Kloet.
Police say the families of both victims are co-operating with the investigation.
"We would like to locate them and make sure that they're all right and that they're safe," de Kloet said.
De Kloet said Toronto Police have not identified any previous victims, but she said similar scams targeting Chinese students have been reported elsewhere in Canada.
Investigators believe victims of the scam are being told to switch off their cell phones and to go dark on social media to protect their families.
After that, the scammer calls the victim's families in China to tell them their child has been kidnapped with demands for a "large ransom."
De Kloet said fraudsters now have easy access to private information that may have been used against the victims, especially those isolated from their usual support network.
"It's very simple these days to get a lot of information from people on, say, their social media accounts," she said.
Zhang was last seen in the area of Yonge and Grenville Streets. Xu was last seen around Eglinton Avenue East and Midland Avenue.
Anyone with information about them is asked to call Toronto Police or Crime Stoppers.