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Virtual kidnapping scam targets local New Westminster student

New Westminster – The New Westminster Police Department is warning foreign students and their families about a scam involving the extortion of students and their families by people claiming to be high ranking foreign government officials.

Last week, a New Westminster student was contacted by the scammers through WeChat, a popular Chinese social media platform, threatening to harm the student’s parents if the student did not comply with their demands. The victim was told to not use their cellphones, not to contact their families, not to use any form of social media, and to comply with their every demand.

At the same time, the student’s family was contacted through WeChat and told that their daughter was being held against her will. The online scammers demanded money in return for their daughter’s safety. The scammers managed to convince the student to flee Canada where she was later located safely in another country. The NWPD Major Crime Unit continues to investigate.

“When incidents like this occur, students are threatened, defrauded of money, and coerced to go into hiding,” stated Sergeant Jeff Scott. “Once the online scammers have intimidated the student into hiding, they contact the parents and defraud them out of money.”

If you receive a message or call you suspect to be a scam, never reveal any personal information and ignore the threats.

Anyone who believes they are a victim of a fraud or scam is asked to call the Canadian Anti-Fraud Centre at 1-888-495-8501 as well as contact the New Westminster Police Department at 604-525-5411 or call your local police.