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Taiwanese students in US lose money to scam calls

Taipei representative office in San Francisco received 3 reports in April

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(Pexels, Mikhail Nilov photo)

(Pexels, Mikhail Nilov photo)

TAIPEI (Taiwan News) — After receiving three reports from students about losing money to scam callers, the Taipei Economic and Cultural Office (TECO) in San Francisco has put out an alert and urged students to contact authorities when in doubt.

In a Facebook post, TECO wrote that Taiwanese students had received calls from supposed United Parcel Service (UPS) staff members who spoke with Chinese accents. They told the students the packages they sent to China from the U.S. contained forged passports, and the students should expect to be investigated by Chinese law enforcement.

The scammer would “help” put a student in touch with a “Chinese law enforcement department,” after which an individual claiming to be a supervisor would ask to speak to the student via a video call on Skype or WhatsApp. In the call, the “supervisor” would demand to see the student’s passport and other personal information, in addition to asking about the student’s daily activities and bank information.

The law enforcement department reportedly claimed to be working with the FBI and threatened to extradite students to China for trial if they did not cooperate. They also threatened to harm the students’ parents and told them that those who did not cooperate faced being murdered by gangs in the U.S.

According to TECO, after surveilling and “interrogating” students for a while, the scammer would instruct them to transfer the total amount of their bank balance to accounts at HSBC or Industrial and Commercial Bank of China for supervision.

CNA cited TECO as saying that most victims of the scam were students who had recently arrived in the U.S., and some had lost tens of thousands of U.S. dollars before realizing they had been scammed. As these types of scam calls are very common in Chinese-speaking communities in the U.S., TECO called for students to remain vigilant if contacted by scammers.

TECO urged Taiwanese students in the U.S. to report any suspicious calls to authorities, verify facts, make note of the relevant call information or record the call, and never send money or personal information directly.