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Six people have been arrested over their alleged involvement in kidnapping a Chinese teenager and a subsequent attempt to extort money from him.
Police arrested the six men, who are all from China, after the 19-year-old victim reached out to a friend via Chinese messaging app WeChat.
Detectives have arrested six people as part of their investigation into an incident in which a Chinese national was kidnapped and attempts were made to extort money from him.Credit: Paul Rovere
The man used WeChat to tell the friend that a number of armed men were holding him hostage in a Melbourne apartment. Police say the men demanded $200,000 from the teenager.
Police swooped on the CBD apartment in the early hours of August 17 and located the man “without incident”, they said.
Following the recovery of the victim, police searched residential properties in the Melbourne CBD and Docklands area and arrested three men.
A 23-year-old man and a 22-year-old man were charged with false imprisonment, attempted armed robbery, extortion, blackmail and assault charges. They faced Melbourne Magistrates’ Court on Friday and were bailed to appear again on November 9. A 21-year-old man was released pending further enquiries.
Detectives arrested three more men on Monday.
A 23-year-old, 25-year-old and 27-year-old were arrested in Docklands and subsequently interviewed. The trio, who are all from China, have been released pending further inquiries and the investigation remains ongoing.
The arrests follow a number of kidnapping scams in Victoria in which Mandarin-speaking Chinese students have predominantly been targeted. Victims have typically been given fake information by their kidnappers as part of a scam to extort money from them.
Victims are often threatened by people falsely claiming to be Chinese government officials or police and asked for large sums of money to be transferred to prevent the victim being charged or deported.
In one case in 2020, a Chinese father paid $2 million after he received a video of his daughter at an unknown location in Australia, where she was tied up.
Another Chinese family paid $20,000 after they received a video of their 22-year-old daughter bound and blindfolded.
Police said scammers have forced a number of people to stage their own kidnapping and attempt to extort money from their family members this year.
On some occasions, they said, scammers have extorted victims by demanding they film themselves committing sexual acts. Victims have been forced to obtain loans, use their personal savings or purchase cryptocurrency to transfer money into overseas bank accounts, in some instances.
“Scammers may also request victims activate their video chat function or attend a local police station to appear credible,” police said.
“This request is then met with the scammer creating reasons not to meet.”
Anyone with information about these scams is urged to contact Crime Stoppers on 1800 333 000 or file a confidential report online at www.crimestoppersvic.com.au
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