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SCAM SPOT: Chinese community targeted with hoax calls

03:00pm February 09 2024

This episode of Scam Spot warns of the increasing number of scams targetting Australia's Chinese community. (Thomas Evans)

Migrating to a new country can be difficult in the best of times, but Chinese-speaking Australian residents are warned of the rise in scammers exploiting their circumstances and targeting the Chinese community.


Between January and November 2020, ScamWatch received over 2000 reports about scams targeting the Chinese community, resulting in almost $7 million in losses. That’s 3 times more than the losses incurred across the whole of 2019.

2020 年 1 月至 11 月期间,ScamWatch 收到了 2千多份针对华人的诈骗报告,造成近 7百万澳币的损失。这是 2019 年全年损失的 3 倍。

Scammers of late are posing as Chinese authorities and leaving threatening or frightening messages in order to extort money from their victims, or access personal information.


So how does this scam work?


A scammer, most commonly speaking Mandarin, will call you out of the blue, or leave a message. Using spoofing technology, the caller ID can register the call as coming from a Chinese authority, such as the police, a government or immigration official, or parcel delivery service.


The scammer will insist that they have intercepted a package addressed to you containing illegal material, that your identity has been stolen and used for illegal activity, that you haven’t paid your taxes or fines, or that the Australian Government is seeking to arrest and deport you due to a VISA problem.


Ultimately, the scammer will threaten that you will be extradited to China to face criminal charges unless a sum of money is sent to them.


In some cases, international students are targeted with threats of criminal sanctions, unless they provide photos of themselves bound and gagged as though they have been kidnapped. These photos are then used to extort money from the student’s family by claiming their child really has been kidnapped.


Watch this episode of Scam Spot in Mandarin. (Thomas Evans)

It may be tempting to believe the scam, given that you are hearing a familiar language while in a new country. In reality, no crime has been committed, and this is all a disturbing scam. Here are some tips to avoid falling for the trap:


Hang up the phone immediately and report the call to your local police


Never disclose any personal information. If scammers share information about you, remember that it is likely just publicly available


Any calls about arrest or deportation are a scam


Do not respond to any ‘urgent’ requests


If you suspect the scammer has your bank account details, contact your bank immediately.


Ensure you warn all your friends and family about the scam.


These calls can be frightening, and in many cases victims may comply in fear. Being aware of this scam and sharing it with loved ones can save you a whole world of trouble.



Flora Lee is a Senior Fraud Analytics Manager at Westpac with almost a decade of experience in Westpac's fraud division.

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