Fraudsters claiming to be from Chinese Consulate target Calgarians
Virtual kidnappings, spoofing software convinces two Calgary college students to go into hiding
Fraudsters pretending to be calling from the Chinese Consulate in Calgary are the latest in a series of phone scams that also include "virtual kidnapping."
According to an opinion piece written Lu Xu, the consul general of the People's Republic of China in Calgary, published Monday in a Calgary newspaper, a dozen Calgarians have been defrauded of over $500,000. Lu Xu spoke to The Homestretch on Monday.
Q: What exactly is going on?
A: We got a lot of callbacks saying they got a lot of missed calls and the number appears to be my office numbers — that's why we got over a hundred calls in three days. Actually, our number has been misappropriated by the fraudsters — and they just use our number with high technology [spoofing software] and try to do some telephone scams.
Q: Who gets these calls?
A: I think it's random. That's why we received a lot of callbacks from Calgarians, local Calgarians, not necessarily Chinese-originated or Chinese students.
Q: What do they want?
A: They ask for money. They pretend to be the staff from the Chinese Consulate and say the receiver has been involved in some extortion or money laundering conducted by a transnational crime group — in order to clear themselves, they have to transfer money to some special account for the investigation.
Q: Does anyone fall for it?
A: Oh yes. Of course. In the last half year, there are 12 cases involving 12 Chinese students who transferred money to the special account already.
Q: In your newspaper story today, you also mentioned something called "virtual kidnapping." What is that?
A: Virtual kidnapping is like a telephone scam or money transferring version too — that is, the receiver asks [the person they contact] to cut off all connections with family and friends, then hiding yourself in some remote areas … in order to confuse these transnational crime groups by making a false kidnap video.
Then they will send those videos to the students' parents and ask them for the ransom.
Q: What has your office been telling people?
A: We just want to raise public awareness [that] if you receive some strange call from my office, it is probably not actually from my office. It is quite possible you will be hit by a scam.
Q Why would your office call anyone?
A: Sometimes we will call the people saying that this is the right time for you to come into my office to apply for a visa.
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With files from The Homestretch