Sunday, August 12, 2018

Police warn of ongoing scam calls targeting Chinese community in Ottawa

Police warn of ongoing scam calls targeting Chinese community in Ottawa



Ottawa Police Service's organized fraud unit issued a warning on Thursday about automated scam calls in Mandarin that have begun targeting the Chinese community in Ottawa.
Ottawa Police Service's organized fraud unit issued a warning on Thursday about automated scam calls in Mandarin that have begun targeting the Chinese community in Ottawa.
File / Global News


If you live in Ottawa and recently got a mysterious phone call from an unknown number, only to pick up and hear someone speak hurriedly in Mandarin, you’re not alone – and that call is one you want to ignore, Ottawa police are warning.
In a notice on Thursday, the Ottawa Police Service‘s organized fraud unit said these random and automated calls are part of an ongoing scam operation designed to mislead and extort money from members of the Chinese community – and Ottawa is the latest area in Canada to be hit.
Reports of these scam phone calls surfaced in British Columbia as of late last year, the fraud unit said, but are “fairly new” to the national capital region. Outside Canada, variations on these calls targeting Chinese nationals have also been reported in the United States and Australia.
“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,” James Ritchie, an acting staff sergeant with the fraud unit, said in the police release.
Police say the fraudsters are rigging the phone number that shows up on caller ID displays to look like one associated with the Chinese embassy in Ottawa – but a spokesperson for the Ottawa police said the fraudsters will “keep switching up” and it’s possible the calls may come from other numbers too.
If a Mandarin-speaking person hears the message and returns the call, they are “made to believe that they are implicated in some sort of crime in China” and must hand over money to resolve the situation.
“The victim is instructed to transfer money to Chinese bank accounts,” the release stated. “In some circumstances, the victim is told to go into hiding so that they are not found by the Canadian police and not to answer their phone.”
The fraudsters then attempt to “extort” cash from the person’s family by deceiving relatives to think that person has been kidnapped.
On its website, the Canadian Anti-Fraud Centre warns of other types of “intimidating and threatening” scam calls targeting Mandarin-speakers, in which the fraudsters claim to be the Beijing Police, Interpol or the Chinese consulate.
“They will involve a message that claims a letter or package in your name was intercepted, and implicates you in the fraud,” the website says. “The suspect may also direct you to go to a fake ‘Police’ website to verify your identity, which includes providing a copy of your passport. In some cases, the fraudsters will also say that you have fraudulent funds in your account. They will ask for your banking information for verification.”