Vancouver Police are issuing a new warning about virtual kidnappings, after foreign fraudsters tried to extort a 27-year-old Vancouver man of thousands of dollars last night.

VPD’s Major Crime Section is investigating the elaborate extortion attempt, which was thwarted after police were alerted. The scam has all the hallmarks of similar virtual kidnappings that happened last year.

“The victim typically receives a phone call and is convinced there is a warrant for their arrest in China, or that Chinese police need help with an investigation,” says Sgt. Aaron Roed, VPD.

“The suspects then tell the victim to go into hiding and to make fake videos claiming they’ve been kidnapped. The scammers send the videos to the victim’s family and friends asking for money to pay for their release.”

Victims are typically women in their early 20s from Mainland China who are in Canada studying on a student visa. VPD believes many of these incidents have gone unreported. Others come to light after concerned relatives phone police asking for help.

“Police from outside Canada will never arrest you in this country, ask for photos or videos of yourself pretending to be a victim of crime,” says Sergeant Roed. “Any contact from international authorities should be through your local police.”

Anyone receiving phone calls from someone claiming to represent a foreign police agency should call 9-1-1 immediately. Anyone with information about virtual kidnappings is asked to call VPD’s Major Crime Section at 604-717-3679 or Crime Stoppers 1-800-222-8477.