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Police north of Toronto issue warning about 'Chinese police extortion scam'

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Members of York Region’s Chinese community are being targeted in an ongoing extortion scam, where fake Chinese law enforcement officials allegedly threaten their victims with arrest or deportation, police say.

York Regional Police (YRP) issued a public warning Monday following “multiple” reports of the scam. In three incidents, police said, victims were defrauded of more than $1 million combined.

The scammers use various tactics to get in touch with their victims, including phone calls and social media messages, and trick them into believing they are in legal trouble in China, police said.

“They often claim that the victims' personal information has been compromised or that they are involved in criminal activities such as money laundering or drug trafficking,” a news release read.

The suspects then make demands for money or personal information to resolve the fraudulent legal issues.

It’s unclear at this time how many victims have been impacted by the scam.

Police provided a number of tips to protect residents from falling victim to the extortion attempt, including:

  • Verify the caller’s identity through documentation or by contacting the relevant law enforcement agency to independently confirm the caller’s legitimacy
  • Be skeptical of threats. Official agencies do not typically threaten arrest or legal action over the phone without proper due process
  • Do not share personal information over the phone or through email
  • Discuss the phone call with friends or family before taking action
  • Report the incident

“Always exercise caution and skepticism when dealing with unsolicited communication, especially those that involve legal matters and financial transactions,” police said.

Investigators are asking anyone with information about the scam to contact the York Regional Police Financial Crimes Unit at 1-866-876-5423, ext. 6611. 

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