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Suspect arrested after Mississauga man lost almost $100K in telephone scam targeting Asian community

A Peel Police shoulder patch is seen in Mississauga, Ont., on Saturday, July 1, 2023. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Arlyn McAdorey A Peel Police shoulder patch is seen in Mississauga, Ont., on Saturday, July 1, 2023. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Arlyn McAdorey
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A 57-year-old man has been arrested in connection with an alleged telephone scam targeting members of the Asian community in the Toronto area, including one man who lost nearly $100,000.

On Tuesday, Peel Regional Police announced the arrest of the suspect who had allegedly made threatening and intimidating phone calls pretending to be a police officer, a customs official, an INTERPOL agent or someone from the Chinese consulate and demanded money.

In one case, a 38-year-old Mississauga man received a phone call on July 15, 2022, from someone claiming to be a Shanghai Customs officer.

“The suspect advised that the victim was suspected of committing a fraud offence in China and was required to return his funds to China for further investigation into their legitimacy,” police allege in a news release on Tuesday.

“The victim was threatened with deportation back to China to face repercussions if he did not comply and was also promised the return of all funds at the completion of the investigation.”

Police said the victim then sent nine wire transfers to accounts in Hong Kong before becoming suspicious and asked to see an official in person.

On Aug. 31, 2022, the suspect went to the victim’s home and allegedly presented identification that showed him as an executive staff member of INTERPOL of the People’s Republic of China.

“The suspect served the victim with a Shanghai Public Security Bureau Incident Receipt and retrieved $500 cash from the victim,” police allege.

Following the visit, the victim sent six more wire transfers. Police said he was defrauded of over $97,000 in the scam.

Last month, as a result of their investigation, police took Zhi Yong Wu from Toronto into custody. He was charged with fraud over $5,000 and possession of property obtained by crime.

“With $12.5M in overall reported losses in 2023, extortion fraud remains a persistent threat to Canadians. These frauds play on the emotions of victims to instill fear and anxiety to get victims to send money,” Jeff Thomson with the Canadian Anti-Fraud Centre (CAFC) said in a statement.

“The CAFC has received reporting from victims across our country and wants to remind Canadians to stay vigilant and report any threatening calls they get claiming to be Shanghai Police, Beijing Police, Interpol or any other government or police agency.”

Police are asking other victims or anyone with information about the investigation to contact them at 905-453–2121, ext. 3335 or Crime Stoppers anonymously at 1-800-222-TIPS (8477).

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