Local police warn of scam targeting Chinese students
Local schools are warning international students about a scam targeting Chinese nationals studying in Canada after two cases have been reported to Hamilton police.
McMaster University, Mohawk College and Columbia International College say they are getting the word out as police look into the incidents.
Police launched their investigation after two Mac students — a male and a female — could not be reached by their families back in China Friday night, said Jackie Penman, spokesperson for Hamilton police.
The students had been contacted, told their credit cards or bank cards had been compromised, and were instructed not to use their cellphones or
There are people out there that want to take advantage of students. SEAN VAN KOUGHNETT
get in touch with their families, she said.
The scammers then contacted the students’ families, telling them their children had been kidnapped and demanding a large ransom.
When the family members tried contacting their loved ones and could not reach them, they got in touch with friends in the area who alerted police, Penman said.
Police located the students within hours — the male student was found at his home address and the female was found in Kitchener by Waterloo police.
“Hamilton police continue to investigate and make the public aware that this scam is out there,” Penman said.
“If you’re presented with a scenario that you need to act upon immediately and you’re not given the option to contact the organization at a later time, it’s not a legitimate agency.”
If that happens, she suggested people call police and record the number, if possible.
Police have been in touch with Mac, Mohawk, Columbia as well as the public and Catholic school boards and independent schools so they can warn their international students about the scam, Penman said.
Toronto police have publicized three similar incidents involving Chinese students who were reported missing last week, but have since been found.
Sean Van Koughnett, associate vice-president of students and learning and dean of students at McMaster, said the university has posted a warning on its Daily News website and is getting the word out through social media and its International Student Services’ office.
“Unfortunately, there are people out there that want to take advantage of students who are particularly vulnerable,” he said. “Our firstyear students, some of them are only 17. They are thousands of miles away from home.”
“These perpetrators — they know who their audience is and they know they are targeting innocent and often naïve young people who, if they position themselves as an authority, these students will listen to them,” he added.
Mohawk spokesperson Jay Robb said the college is warning its 2,000 international students through email, posters and social media. A question-and-answer session is also in the works.
At Columbia College, school announcements and electronic message boards are broadcasting the warning to students, said principal Steve Saunders.
Anyone with information is asked to contact Det. Const. David Tsuchida at 905-546-4861.