British Columbia

Scam calls target Chinese-Vancouverites, demanding personal details and money

RCMP are warning about a round of automated telephone scams targeting Chinese immigrants across Vancouver and other North American cities.

Similar calls have been reported in Toronto and New York

RCMP are advising B.C. residents to hang up if they receive a call asking for money or personal information. (Gajus/Shutterstock)

RCMP are warning about a round of automated telephone scams targeting Chinese immigrants across Vancouver and other North American cities.

The calls to B.C. residents, usually with a Vancouver area code, leave a pre-recorded message in Mandarin.

The message says: "This is the Chinese embassy informing you that you have had a package available for the past several days. Please bring valid ID and pick it up, or else it will expire today.

"Please press 1 and an employee will be with you."

Pressing 1 leads to someone picking up who then informs the recipient they are in trouble with the Chinese government and must give sensitive personal information, like credit card details and passport numbers, or send money.

"These calls are scams," said RCMP Staff Sgt. Annie Linteau.

"It's very important that when people get these phone calls or phone messages that they simply hang up and they do not comply with any sort of demands that are made."

Spreading the word

The calls appear to target recent immigrants from China, Linteau said. Police are working to get the word out to the Chinese community.

"We've certainly been in communication with the Chinese consulate and they've advised their citizens that this is occurring," Linteau said.

"We've also done some outreach with various organizations in the Lower Mainland that provides services to newly arrived immigrants."

The RCMP has also connected with Chinese media and has been in touch with the liaison officer in Beijing to share the information with Chinese authorities there.

Similar scams have recently been reported in Toronto and New York. Last week, the U.S. Federal Trade Commission put a warning about the calls on its website.

RCMP warn not to give out personal, confidential information over the phone and to simply hang up if a call like this is received.

With files from Matthew Lazin-Ryder and On The Coast.