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Durham residents lose more than $200,000 in virtual kidnapping scam

The DRPS are warning the public about “virtual kidnapping” scams after parents and friends of an 18-year-old girl lost over $200,000.

The female victim, a student in Montreal was approached and told she was implicated in a crime ring and that she would be arrested and incarcerated if she did not follow instructions. She was manipulated into taking photos of herself tied up and in distress to make it look as if she had been kidnapped and not leave the hotel room where she was kept. The scammers received the images and sent them to her mother, an Oshawa resident, demanding ransom payments through the WECHAT application.

More than $200,000 from the students’ family and friends was transferred to an unknown bank account to free the student. Her mother contacted DRPS on May 16 to report the kidnapping and locate her daughter. It was determined the girl was still in Montreal and the DRPS contacted the Montreal Police who found her unharmed and in a hotel room. She was recently reunited with her family.

The scam, known as “virtual kidnapping”, has been happening in North America for several years, recently surfacing in Durham Region

There have several similar schemes going on throughout the GTA and police are warning the public not to communicate with the scammers. If you have been approached to participate, contact the local police services and provide all relevant information.

For more information on scams or to report a scam attempt, visit the Canadian Anti-Fraud Centre at: www.antifraudcentre-centreantifraude.ca or call 1-888-495-8501.

Anyone wishing to report a fraud in Durham Region is asked to contact Durham Regional Police at 1-888-579-1520.