A scary extortion scam has hit the Chinese community in Australia, netting more than $1 million

Lionel Bonaventure/AFP/Getty Images Lionel Bonaventure/AFP/Getty Images

A frightening fake extortion scam has hit the Chinese community in Australia.

Scamwatch has received about 1,700 reports this year of scammers targeting mainly Chinese residents in New South Wales, Victoria, Queensland and Western Australia.

Reported losses total $1.15 million.

ACCC acting chair Delia Rickard said: “These scams are particularly nasty and worryingly we’re seeing a dramatic spike in the Chinese community being targeted. In May, there was a 400% increase in reports of these scams and losses more than doubled.”

Two Business Insider Australia staff members received several of these calls.

The first one said in English it was a call from the Chinese consulate and then went into Mandarin.

The other calls all went straight into Mandarin.

The ACCC reports that first, speaking in Mandarin, a scammer will call you directly or leave an “urgent” voice message to call back. The scammer will impersonate a parcel delivery service and/or Chinese authorities and claim the receiver of the call is in serious trouble as they have intercepted a package addressed to the reciever with fraudulent documents such as fake passports.

The scammer then threatens the receiver with extradition to China to face criminal charges in court unless money is sent to them.

They claim this money is needed to prove innocence while they investigate the supposed crime.

A new scam, reportedly run by the same ring, has been rampant in the past month, targeting Chinese students in Australia.

“The scammer will again claim to student victims that they have been involved in criminal activity and threaten them, and even their family, with criminal sanctions unless they pretend they have been kidnapped, including by taking photos of themselves bound and gagged,” says Rickard.

“Scammers will then use these photos to extort money from the student’s family by claiming the student has been kidnapped.”

The best way to deal with a scam like this is to hang up immediately, and report it to Scamwatch and police.

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