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Police warning about international wire-transfer extortion scams

Two university students recently lost a combined $150,000
KitchenerToday file photo

The Waterloo Regional Police are warning the East Asian community in Waterloo Region after receiving two reports of international wire-transfer extortion scams. Both victims are students at local universities and sustained a combined loss of more than $150,000.00.

Both scams were similar in nature and contained many of the same key indicators: 

  • A telephone call purporting to come from a member of the Chinese Government, or Chinese Embassy, alleging that the victim has been implicated in the commission of a criminal offence in China. 
  • An insistence that the victim report their location and activities to Chinese authorities multiple times daily. 
  • Communication with alleged Chinese authorities, including police, prosecutors, and judges, either over the telephone or through internet-based applications such as Skype. 
  • The provision of authentic looking, digitized police identification, including a police badge containing an image of a male in uniform and an accompanying identification number. 
  • The identification of a male named “Liu Yan” as the chief suspect in China. 
  • The allegation that there was a warrant issued for the victim’s arrest in China. 
  • A request for access to the victim’s bank account in order to “prove” that illegal money was not laundered through their accounts, and a subsequent request to transfer large sums of money to a bank account in Hong Kong that specializes in “money tracing.” 

Both scams also involved the following tactics: 

  • The use of fear and intimidation 
  • The threat of incarceration 
  • A sense of urgency 
  • A request for secrecy 

If you have been a victim of a scam and suffered a financial loss, please report the incident on-line at on our Online Reporting page or call our non-emergency number at 519-570-9777. 

If you received one of these calls/messages, but did not experience a financial loss, please contact the Canadian Anti-Fraud Centre at 1-888-495-8501 or visit the Anti-Fraud Centre website

#StopPauseThink, and review the following safety tips to prevent becoming a victim of fraud:

  • Never wire, send, or e-transfer money based on a request made over the phone
  • Resist the pressure to act quickly and watch out for urgent pleas that play on your emotions. Fraudsters will attempt to elicit fear in efforts to make a financial gain, and may direct you to not communicate with family or friends prior to the transaction.
  • Do not provide personal information (e.g. SIN, passport number, credit card numbers, or banking information) over the phone unless you placed the call and you know who you are speaking to.  
  • If you suspect a scam, hang up. Do some research to determine the validity.  
  • Consider sharing this information with friends, neighbours, and family members who may not be connected to social media.

For additional resources and information pertaining to scams and frauds is also available in various languages, visit the Canadian Governments Protect Yourself Against Fraud page, the Competition Bureau website, or the Anti-Fraud Centre website.


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