Police say scores of international students in Queensland have been stung in a scam where fraudsters impersonated the Chinese consulate and demanded thousands of dollars to avoid deportation.
- At least 44 international students reported being victims last year — losing between $100 and $128,000
- Queensland police have released a video in Mandarin urging the Chinese-speaking community to be vigilant
- It is not clear how much money has been lost in total between the victims
At least 44 international students reported falling victim to the con last year — losing between $100 and $128,000 — prompting Queensland police to release a video in Mandarin urging the Chinese-speaking community to be vigilant.
Police said scammers posed as the Chinese consulate via phone or online chat messages and told victims they had “information” alleging the students were linked to a criminal case in China.
“The scammer then demands funds from the victim, to prevent the victim being deported from Australia and to avoid imprisonment in China,” police said in a statement.
In the new two-minute video, Detective Senior Constable Shawn Chia from the Financial and Cyber Crime Group said it was a scam and warned people to hang up if they receive these calls.
“Some indicators you are being targeted by scammers: repeated requests for increasing levels of personal information, being threatened with deportation or arrest if you do not cooperate, demands to only communicate via encrypted video and online chat applications,” Detective Senior Constable Chia said in Mandarin.
It is not clear how much money was lost in total between the victims.
‘Social engineering attacks’
Detective Superintendent Terry Lawrence said “these form of social engineering attacks” saw criminals pretending to be from legitimate organisations or authorities to access money or personal information.
“With your assistance, police can formulate strategies to assist in combating this crime,” Detective Superintended Lawrence said.
“Ask yourself if you are in control of your personal information, be wary of any unsolicited phone calls or messages of this nature.”
Queensland police said it worked alongside federal agencies in its investigations.
In 2018, the Chinese embassy, the Australian Federal Police and ACT Police said they had received reports of fraudulent calls from scammers claiming to be officials from the Chinese embassy or Consulate.
“In extreme cases, the scams have escalated to involve further ransom demands from the victim’s family by fabricating a kidnapping,” the embassy said in an alert posted to its website.
People can report information about crime anonymously to Crime Stoppers, which is a registered charity and community volunteer organisation, by calling 1800 333 000 or via its website — 24hrs per day.