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Kidnapping Scam update - 22nd September 2020

Dear students,

You may be aware of media reports on a scam targeting international students, which was reported in the media yesterday (with previous incidents reported in 2019 and 2020). For example:

Chinese student based in Sydney falls victim to 'virtual kidnapping' scam

Chinese international student located following 'virtual kidnapping'

See Virtual Kidnappings for a July 2020 Media release from New South Wales police, which provides information on how the scam is operating.


  • Students have been contacted through a phone call from someone usually speaking in Mandarin and claiming to be a representative from a Chinese authority.
  • The caller convinces the victim that they have been implicated in a crime in China, and that they must pay a fee to avoid legal action.
  • The victim is then threatened or coerced into transferring large amounts of money into unknown offshore bank accounts.
  • In some instances, victims are convinced to fake their own kidnappings – known as a ‘virtual kidnapping’.
  • When the victim’s family is unable to establish contact with their child in Australia, they send large ransom payments in exchange for their ‘release’.
  • Police have asked students who feel they may have been targeted to contact the Chinese Consulate or Embassy, and report the incident to police.
  • Partnerships