International Student Scam

In the early morning hours of Friday April 29, 2022, Hamilton Police responded to the area of Main Street West and Emerson Street in the City of Hamilton in regards to an extortion/ abduction report of a McMaster international student.  The student had last been seen at approximately 4:00 p.m. the day before.

The victim in this matter was located unharmed and in good health at an address in Peterborough by Investigators on Friday. The circumstances are being shared with the public in efforts to warn potential victims.

In early February 2022, the victim received a telephone call from a fraudster posing as a Chinese embassy official in Ottawa advising that their identity had been compromised. The victim was instructed to call police in Shanghai where someone using their name had committed a serious criminal offence.

The victim contacted the number provided and spoke with another fraudster posing as a high ranking police official.  The victim was warned that they could face a lengthy incarceration if their name was not cleared.  With the promise that all funds would be returned upon completion of the investigation, the victim transferred a significant amount of money to the fraudster. The victim was sworn to secrecy while the “investigation” was ongoing.  By late April, the victim was unable to keep up the payments and was told to fake their own kidnapping in order to ask for ransom money. The victim sent a video to their parents who, believing that their child had been kidnapped, also transferred a significant amount of money to the fraudster.

Chinese police have been contacted and the money transferred by the parents has been secured.  The student is safe.

Hamilton Police want to make the public aware of such scams and provide the following advice should you receive such a call:

•      Be suspicious of calls that demand money or immediate action.

•      No law enforcement agency will demand payment of currency in order to    conduct an investigation.

•      Never offer information to the caller.

•      Remember to never send money to someone under uncertain conditions.

•      Don't be afraid to say "No".

If you believe you have fallen victim to such a scam, please contact the Hamilton Police non-emergency line at 905-546-4925.

More Resources

Cyber Crime, Computer and Internet Safety – provides information regarding online frauds and crimes.

Canadian Anti-Fraud Centre – provides more advice on scams and frauds and current types of frauds.

Competition Bureau's Information Centre – provides information regarding laws businesses must follow.

Office of Consumer Affairs – provides information about common scams that occur in your own province or territory.