A Chinese student victim of a bizarre virtual kidnapping where a man posing as a police officer extorted her family out of $213,000 has been found safe and well.
The 18-year-old, who lives in Sydney, was reported missing by worried friends just before 2am on September 8.
Photos and videos of the student being held at an unknown location were sent to her family over the Chinese messaging app WeChat.
The man in the video claimed to be from the Chinese police and demanded her family pay a ransom in exchange for her safe release.
Photos and videos of the student being held at an unknown location (pictured) were sent to her family over the Chinese-owned messaging app WeChat
Another person could be seen in the room with her in one of the images.
According to NSW Police, the scam started in July when the teenager got an email from people claiming to be Chinese authorities.
The fraudsters said her details had been illegally used on a package that was intercepted overseas.
After the woman was reported missing a strike force was launched with special investigators from the NSW State Crime Command, along with local detectives, to find the missing woman.
On Tuesday, less than a week later, she was found safe and well in Pyrmont, near Sydney CBD.
Police then established a crime scene at an apartment in Chatswood in the city’s north where they spoke with a 22-year-old man.
The man in the video (pictured) claimed to be from the Chinese police and demanded her family pay a ransom in exchange for her safe release
The woman believed the scammers were following orders from Chinese police and agreed not to contact her friends and family while she hid in an apartment, The Daily Telegraph reported.
Police confirmed that more than $213,000 had been transferred into an offshore account since July.
Less than two months ago NSW police warned the community about virtual kidnapping scams targeting Chinese students studying in Australia.
Police confirmed that more than $213,000 had been transferred into an offshore account since July. Pictured: The woman who was ‘kidnapped’
‘It appears these scammers are continuing to operate and are once again preying on the vulnerabilities of individuals in the community who are not in direct physical contact with their families,’ he said.
‘The individuals behind these “virtual kidnapping” scams continually adapt their scripts and methodology which are designed to take advantage of people’s trust in authorities.’
Officers have been assured by the Chinese Consulate-General in Sydney that no one claiming to be from a Chinese authority will contact a student via phone and demand money.