HomeAsian AmericansPhone Scams and Robocalls Target Chinese Americans

Phone Scams and Robocalls Target Chinese Americans

Photo courtesy of Tony Hou/Creative Commons.

There’s been a spike in phone scams targeting Chinese residents in Massachusetts. According to the Federal Trade Commission, that’s no coincidence.

The calls are targeting residents with last names of Chinese origin, according to the FTC as reported by Enterprise News. Their predictable, yet alarming messages, that the victims owe the Chinese government or police a hefty sum, is even translated into a Chinese language.

It was not reported whether this was Mandarin or Cantonese (though a warning published by a local police department included a Mandarin translation).

According to Wicked Local, an elderly Chinese American woman in Cambridge nearly wired $95,000 to Hong Kong last month. The callers said they were representatives for the Chinese government and claimed that if she didn’t send the money, she could be arrested under an international warrant. Luckily, she sent the wire transfer over the weekend so the police were able to halt the transaction before the banks opened on Monday.

Residents have also reported several examples of these Chinese phone scams to the Lexington police department in Massachusetts this year — some demand cash wire transfers; others ask for personal information like passport IDs.

The Chinese Consulate in New York released a statement in March, clarifying that they would never initiate a wire transfer over WeChat, a popular messaging app in China, or request any kind of personal information over the phone. They also included tips on avoiding phone fraud, such as hanging up and calling back to confirm that the number is associated with the Consulate.

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