Author: KYLIE STEVENS FOR DAILY MAIL AUSTRALIA
A new international phone scam is targeting Chinese expats in Australia.
New South Wales Police issued a public warning on Wednesday after ‘thousands’ of people reported receiving calls from someone speaking in Mandarin.
The caller then demands money and threatens violence or harm to the receiver, their family and friends if they don’t pay up.
Police say the scam has claimed dozens of NSW victims, including $1.9 million from one victim alone, The Sydney Morning Herald reported.
Financial Crimes Squad Commander, Detective Superintendent Linda Howlett said police were aware of at least 50 scams across the state and fears many more have not yet been reported.
The scam has already successfully defrauded people of millions of dollars worldwide and has also claimed victims in New Zealand, the US, Canada and United Kingdom.
According to NSW Police, the call often starts with a recorded message in English or Mandarin, and transfers to a person claiming to be from the Chinese Embassy or Consulate.
Listeners are then told the call will be transferred to the ‘investigators’ or ‘police’, who demand bank accounts, PINs, passpor
The caller purports to be a government official and the essence of the scam is to convince the victim they are in trouble, but they can pay their way out of it,’ Detective Superintendent Howlett said in a police statement.
‘The caller claims the victim has been implicated in a crime or their identity has been stolen, which could impact on their visa to stay in Australia or harm could come to their family back home.’
The scammers are also ringing random numbers with three calls reported to the police this week.
‘One person in my office received a telephone call yesterday,’ Detective Superintendent Howlett told The Sydney Morning Herald.
Police are working with the Chinese Embassy and the Chinese Consulate-General as part of the investigation.
The Chinese embassy posted a public alert last week, stating that two embassy phone numbers ‘have been misappropriated by the frauds’.
‘They have advised they would never call citizens to convey the notice of Chinese police, financial institutions, or other organisations,’ Det Supt Howlett said.
‘Further, they do not request personal information over the phone, nor would they ever demand bank account information or payments. While we are working with our law enforcement colleagues to investigate the origins of the scam, we are urging the community to heed our warning not to respond to the caller’s demands.’
Police urge the community not to provide any personal information to callers such as these, and to report the call to police.
‘If you receive a threatening phone call (and demanding money), hang up immediately,’ the NSW Police statement states.
‘If you think you have provided your account details to a scammer, contact your bank or financial institution immediately.’
Scam victims are urged to report it to local police or to the ACCC online at the ‘SCAMwatch report a scam’ page or by calling 1300 795 995.