A Sydney University international student was tricked into helping scammers carry out a “virtual kidnapping” of an 18-year old school student, housing the woman in his Chatswood apartment as her family in China was extorted for $213,000.
The 22-year-old Chinese student believed he was acting on behalf of government authorities in taking her to his home, where she cut off contact with friends and sent videos and photos to her family saying she had been kidnapped.
The scammers contacted the family of the 18-year-old woman, instructing them to deposit the ransom into a bank account in the Bahamas. The scam is the latest case of virtual kidnapping, a worldwide phenomenon that has affected a series of Chinese nationals studying in Sydney.
The scam unfolded over several months. The woman was first contacted by scammers in July, when they told her that her personal details had been illegally used on a package intercepted overseas.