Chinese scam warning

Hello, I am Tianyu (Lucas) ZHAO. I am a Victoria police officer and my rank is Senior Constable. I am a traffic cop, but I have an interest in helping Chinese students avoid being victims to the Chinese authority scams. 

The scams generally start with a message or phone call from someone claiming to be a courier service, Chinese police or Chinese official. 

  • They may tell you that an intercepted parcel that was addressed to you contains compromised documents.   
  • Instructions or threats are then made to get you to transfer large sums of money into overseas bank accounts to prevent you or family and friends from being charged.   
  • Scammers may already know some information about you (obtained without your knowledge) to add credibility to the scam.   
  • Victims may be directed to a website purporting to be a Chinese Authority that contains a phone number – the victim then calls the number on the website and is again speaking to the scammers –this is done to give credibility to the scam. 

Many Chinese families have been victims of these scams, losing large amounts of money to the scammers over weeks and months.  

  • Victims who run out of money are usually convinced by the scammers to stage their own kidnapping in hotels and send these images their parents to scam more money.  Families involved are led to believe the victim is in danger and a ransom needs to be paid to secure their release. 
  • Some victims have been directed by the scammers to record sexual acts that are then sent to the victim’s parents, again to scam money from them. 
  • Some victims have been directed by the scammers to attend the addresses of other people who are also being scammed, to intimidate them, or even book hotel rooms for them. 
  • Recently, some scammers have been directing Chinese victims overseas to other Asian countries like Vietnam where they, again, rent a hotel room and film a staged kidnapping. 

Scammers typically set up in a fake call centre which is called a boiler room. Any person in that boiler room is in on the scam and will perform different roles to convince victims the scam is real. 

The Victoria Police Financial Crime Squad is working with the universities and all other law enforcement agencies across Australia to reduce the number of Chinese students that are becoming victims to these scams. 

If you suspect that yourself, a friend, or colleague are being contacted by a scammer, please call your local police station. 

Or, if you feel more comfortable reporting this scam to non-police staff, please speak directly with your student welfare services or your university security managers.  

Universities in Melbourne are very well-resourced and have extremely supportive people that can assist you. 

  • Always call 000 in the event of an emergency. 
  • Always call 131 444 for all other (non-emergency) reporting 
  • DO NOT continue ANY conversations that you suspect are scams 
  • DO NOT send any money to people who say they are Chinese police or government officials 
  • DO NOT reveal any personal information.

If you are unsure: 

  • DO contact your university student welfare services 
  • DO report any suspicious scam or behaviour to Victoria Police and ReportCyber 
  • DO speak with friends and family about the scam for support and guidance 
  • DO contact the Chinese consulate for advice and to report.

If at any time you are asked to stage your own kidnapping, then you are definitely being scammed.  Please do not follow the scammers instructions.  Make a report to police or your university or school welfare services as quickly as possible. 

Victoria Police are here to keep you safe and ensure your time in Australia is a happy and positive one. With your help, we can put a stop to these scammers.