Phone scam targets Mandarin speakers in Ottawa, police warn

Police are warning residents about an ongoing phone scam targeting the Chinese community in Ottawa.

Ottawa is one of the latest cities to get hit, police say

Ottawa police are warning residents in Ottawa who speak Mandarin about an ongoing phone scam. (Gajus/Shutterstock)

Police are warning residents about an ongoing phone scam targeting the Chinese community in Ottawa. 

Ottawa police say automated calls in Mandarin are being sent at random from a telephone number, which claims to be associated with the Chinese Embassy in Ottawa. 

The victim is typically told in Mandarin they have been implicated in a crime in China and must pay money to resolve it, police say. They are then instructed to transfer money to a Chinese bank account.

In some circumstances, the victim is told to go into hiding and to not answer their phones to ensure they are not found by police in Canada, Ottawa police say. 

The fraudsters then try to extort money from the victim's family by claiming the person is kidnapped.

People from across the country and North America have complained about the scam phone calls, a spokesperson for the Chinese Embassy in Ottawa said Thursday. 

The volume of complaints were very high in April this year, the spokesperson added. 

"This crime has previously been reported in British Columbia in late 2017 and early 2018 but it is fairly new to Ottawa," said James Ritchie, from the Ottawa police fraud unit.

"The Ottawa police would like to remind everyone not to send money to people you do not know and not to give out personal information over the phone."