Ottawa Police say a phone scam targeting Mandarin-speaking residents has been reported in Ottawa.

It’s a scam that has been seen in B.C. over the past year, but police say it’s relatively new in the Capital.

Here’s how it works: A potential victim will get a phone call from a number that appears to be associated with the Chinese consulate. If the recipient of the call can speak Mandarin, the automated message tells them to call back, at which point they are told they’ve been implicated in a crime in China and they must pay money to deal with it.

The victim is told to transfer money to a Chinese bank account.

In some cases, police say, the victim is then instructed to go into hiding. They’re told to avoid Canadian police and to not answer their phone.

Once they comply with that order, the fraudsters contact the victim’s family and demand ransom for “kidnapping” their loved one. Since the target has been instructed to hide and keep their phone off, the family can’t reach them and are more likely to believe they’ve been kidnapped.

“This crime has previously been reported in British Columbia in late 2017 and early 2018 but it is fairly new to Ottawa,” said James Ritchie, Acting Staff Sergeant with the Ottawa Police Organized Fraud Unit, in a press release. “The Ottawa Police would like to remind everyone not to send money to people you do not know and not to give out personal information over the phone.” 

You can contact the Ottawa Police Organized Fraud Unit at 613-236-1222 ext. 5433.