Scam calls target Chinese community, fraud busters warn

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June 21, 2018 Courtesy of – The Canadian Anti-Fraud Centre has issued a bulletin warning that people in Canada are being targeted with calls claiming to come from the Beijing police, Interpol, the Chinese embassy or a delivery firm with a suspicious package.

The Chinese embassy in Ottawa issued a similar warning in April that fraudsters were targeting its citizens in Canada, Australia and the United States with claims including that a family member had been killed or kidnapped.

The calls — the subject of a series of threads on Reddit Ottawa — are a new twist on an old scam, this time targeting the Chinese community, said Jessica Gunson of the Canadian Anti-Fraud Centre.

“In terms of extortion, it’s our No. 1 scam,” she said, adding that the fraudsters use a “threatening” tone and demand that the target act fast to give them cash or personal information.

“They don’t want to give the potential victim any time to think about it,” she said.

Thanks to “spoofing” technology, the call may appear to come from a police force or embassy and if there’s a language barrier, someone who is victimized “may not know who to turn to” for help.

The calls should be reported to both local police and the anti-fraud centre which serves as a central repository of information about scams, Gunson said. Victims can have a friend or family member call on their behalf to translate.

There are a number of variations, but the messages often claim that a letter or package in the victim’s name was intercepted, and implicates them in the fraud. For example, the message will state, “a suspicious package containing numerous bank cards has been stopped at customs and you are the subject of an investigation.”

The fraudsters may also direct the victim to go to a fake “police” website to verify their identity, which includes providing a copy of their passport. They may claim there are fraudulent funds in the victim’s account and demand banking information.

People who get such calls should hang up, the anti-fraud centre warned. If in doubt, they can call the government agency themselves. Never give out personal information in response to unexpected calls.

The Chinese embassy has been warning since last summer that fraudsters were purporting to be calling from its embassies and consulates, sometimes claiming that a family member was in trouble.

Diplomatic staff won’t call about documents or parcels out of the blue, won’t say that their telephones have been transferred from a so-called “Interpol” centre and won’t demand personal information over the phone, the embassy warned.

If a stranger calls and says a loved one has been in a traffic collision or kidnapped, stay calm and verify the situation through official channels, the embassy said. Even if the embassy does call a family to report a genuine emergency, they won’t talk about bank accounts or money transfers.

“It is most likely that the criminals have faked the name of the consular post,” according to the warning. “Please be vigilant.”