Mandarin-speaking scammers have been allegedly targeting vulnerable Chinese speaking international students and community members by making false allegations of money laundering or identity fraud.
The Queensland Police Service has received an increasing number of inquiries and have been able to provide assistance through preventative education and reports.
Some recent scam calls have started with a scammer claiming to be from a courier service, notifying a victim that a parcel related to them was intercepted by custom officials and contained allegedly stolen personal identification information.
In another scenario, the victim is told their identification or health care card has been used for medical treatment in China and health authorities have advised the victim breached isolation compliance after allegedly testing positive to COVID-19.
In both circumstances, the scammer offers to assist the victim to report the theft of their identity to the authorities and then refers the victim to another person who claims to be a police officer. At this point, the victim is advised they are now a suspect in an alleged classified money laundering investigation and are referred to another person who claims to be a prosecutor, offering a way out of their predicament, being the transfer of money to the scammer.
Innocent parties are then made to believe that someone is impersonating them in order to commit crimes and the scammer aims to enlist their trust and continues speaking with them over the phone and using social media applications.
The innocent party is convinced they need to transfer their money to the scammer, posing as international police and/ or prosecutors so the origin of the money can be investigated.
During these lengthy conversations, the scammers try to isolate, control and intimidate the victims by sending them numerous fake government documents, including police, prosecution and court papers.
These victims have suffered a financial loss ranging from a few hundred to over a quarter of a million Australian dollars.
The Queensland Police Service strongly urge that students and community members be alert as soon as they receive these types of calls and take the following precautionary steps:
- Never reveal your personal details including full name, address, date of birth or contact number to an unknown caller
- Never send any form of identification, including passports, driver licences or bank cards via mail
- Never engage in a video call with an unknown person
- Never transfer money to an unknown person's account including both onshore and offshore
And if you have any concern that you may have come into contact with this scam, please immediately:
- Report it to police.
- Submit an online report to ReportCyber or ScamWatch.
- Talk to your local police or any Chinese speaking Police Liaison Officer to receive preventative information or advice.
- Talk to your family, friends, school teachers or university councillors.
- You may also like to contact your local embassy or consulate office to gain advice on reporting the incident overseas.
Australian police and the Queensland Service Police, or any law enforcement agency, will never take your statement, interview you, or serve you a summons via social media, or any social communication app.
They will always require you to attend the local police station in person.
No law enforcement agency will request any money to be transferred into any personal account.
You Decide, Not the Scammers – R U in Control?
If you have lost money, notify your bank immediately.
Report the matter through the Australian Cyber Security Centre ReportCyber at https://www.cyber.gov.au/.
Learn more about scams at www.scamwatch.gov.au and R U In Control
If you have information for police, contact Policelink by providing information using the online suspicious activity form 24hrs per day at www.police.qld.gov.au/reporting.
You can report information about crime anonymously to Crime Stoppers, a registered charity and community volunteer organisation, via crimestoppersqld.com.au 24hrs per day.