There are many criminal routines of "virtual kidnapping" telecom fraud

Chinese embassies and consulates abroad issued safety reminders

The news that Chinese student Zhuang Kai is suspected of being "kidnapped" in the United States has recently aroused widespread concern among international students and the Chinese public. The development of this matter is quite tortuous and bizarre, and finally people's attention is focused on the fraud crime of "virtual kidnapping" telecom fraud.

"Virtual kidnapping" is a kind of telecommunication network fraud crime specifically targeting international students, which is a well-designed two-way scam that takes advantage of the distance between international students and their parents and poor communication, and has shown a high incidence trend in recent years. In view of this, a number of Chinese embassies and consulates abroad have issued security reminders, suggesting that overseas students build a strong anti-fraud "firewall".

"Virtual kidnapping" scams are frequent

According to previous media reports, the Utah police in the United States said on December 2023, 12 that Zhuang Kai, an international student from China, was suspected of being kidnapped locally. The "kidnapper" sent photos of the "student kidnapped" to his parents in the country and extorted $29,8, and the student's parents paid a ransom to the "kidnappers".

On January 1, a spokesperson for the Chinese Embassy in the United States said that with the efforts of the local police, the Chinese Embassy in the United States, and China's domestic public security organs, the suspected abducted Chinese student in Utah had been safely found on the evening of December 1, 2023 local time, and was in good physical condition. According to the local police, the international student suffered a "virtual kidnapping" telecom fraud, and the case is still under further investigation.

In fact, not only in the United States, but also in recent years, "virtual kidnapping" telecom fraud cases against Chinese students have occurred in many countries around the world. In this newer form of telecom fraud, criminals often lead parents of international students in China into a misconception that their children have been kidnapped and physically threatened abroad. In fact, the children abroad were not kidnapped, but the criminals caused poor communication between the international students and their families through other means, and used this "two-headed deception" to take advantage of the time difference between the parents of the international students who could not contact their children to extort ransom.

In addition to the Zhuang Kai case, there have been a number of similar cases recently. At the end of December 2023, the Chinese Consulate General in Melbourne announced that a Chinese student was involved in a typical "virtual kidnapping" fraud case. The fraudsters remotely "brainwashed" the student involved in the case through phone calls and social software, and the student falsely claimed that he had been admitted to a prestigious British university according to the "script" made up by the fraudsters, and that his parents needed to raise millions of yuan in tuition fees for four years as soon as possible and transfer them immediately. After the parents verified their suspicions, the student also said that he was involved in gambling in Australia and needed his parents' help to repay the money as soon as possible. The fraudsters also communicated directly with the student's parents through the student's WeChat account, sent false photos of his injuries and bleeding, and horrific pictures of human organ trafficking, threatening the parents to transfer money as soon as possible, causing the parents to fall into extreme panic.

In a case involving Chinese students previously released by the Cambodian National Police, a Chinese girl studying in Japan was also "virtually kidnapped". The criminals falsely claimed that the girl was involved in fraud, asked the girl to provide her mother's contact information, and threatened to shoot the video herself, which was then forwarded to the girl's mother.

There are many kinds of routines

Recently, the methods and methods of telecom fraud have become more confusing and harmful. Fraudsters deliberately design scams, constantly reinvent their methods, and take advantage of the lack of social experience and distance from their parents to create scams targeting Chinese students. If you are not fooled, you will suffer serious property damage and mental injury.

At present, judging from the cases that have been made public, "virtual kidnapping" telecom fraud often has a complete set of fraud routines and processes.

In related cases, fraudsters often fabricate the facts that international students are suspected of violating the law and committing crimes, or use other means to coax and threaten international students, so that they can cut off contact with their families, and record audio and video recordings of being "beaten" and "kidnapped" for help, etc., to demand huge ransoms from the parents of international students.

Among them, the three tricks of "brainwashing" international students, faking the kidnapping scene, and making international students "lose contact" are the tricks used in most "virtual kidnapping" telecom fraud crimes.

In order to make international students lose the ability to think rationally, criminals will "violently brainwash" international students through phone calls that last for hours at a time, or require the victim to report the situation continuously, or threaten the safety of their families. Some even set up fake websites of public security and law enforcement organs to guide international students to inquire about the so-called "arrest warrants", "wanted warrants" and "court summonses" on their own, aiming to exercise mental and behavioral control over international students and make them obey instructions.

In related cases, criminals trick international students into filming and recording audio, video, and pictures to forge kidnapping scenes, which has also become an important part of breaking through the psychological defense of parents and obtaining "ransom".

In order to prevent the police, parents, teachers, etc. from getting in touch with international students, fraudsters will trick victims into handing over their communication accounts and passwords, quit all communication software, and then threaten or induce international students to leave their residences, go to hotels alone or leave the country immediately, and cut off contact with the outside world. After that, the fraudsters then log on to the victim's messaging software to contact the victim's family members to extort ransom.

Build a strong anti-fraud "firewall"

The occurrence of a number of similar cases has sounded the alarm for international students and their parents, and the form of telecom fraud has been renovated, and the awareness of anti-fraud should be further enhanced, the anti-fraud "firewall" should be built, and the "virtual kidnapping" and other fraud crimes should be vigilant.

On how to build a strong anti-fraud "firewall", a number of Chinese embassies and consulates abroad reminded Chinese students that to prevent "virtual kidnapping", the first step is to protect personal information. When receiving couriers, phone calls, text messages, and emails abroad, it is necessary to strengthen screening, do not easily disclose personal information, and remind yourself, your family, relatives and friends not to remit money and transfer money to the so-called "safe account". In daily life, including e-commerce shopping, air ticket purchase, currency exchange, etc., properly submit and keep important materials and information such as passports, ID cards, phone numbers, bank account numbers, and passwords, so as to enhance the awareness of personal privacy protection on social networks. If you find that your personal information has been leaked, you can change your password, adjust your account in a timely manner, and remind your relatives and friends to beware of being deceived by someone impersonating you.

Secondly, don't trust strangers easily, because some scams are a long-term fishing for a big fish, first deceiving trust, and then starting the next step of fraud. In addition, "virtual kidnapping" is an elaborate method of crime that takes advantage of the fact that international students and their parents are generally far apart and sometimes have poor communication. If you receive a suspected fraudulent call, verify it through official channels first, and contact your family, teachers, and classmates in a timely manner. For parents of international students, they should also be vigilant and understand the basic situation of their children abroad, including Xi, life and other conditions, so as to prevent falling into a two-way scam designed by criminals who take advantage of poor communication between students' parents.

Wang Tong