Riverdale Police Chief Casey Warren said in a statement on Sunday that Kai Chuang, who lived in Riverdale, was discovered “alive but very cold and afraid” inside a tent in the remote mountains near Brigham City, indicating that the teenager may have received instructions from… Before those who drive. Scam to isolate himself.
Exchange students, especially from China, are often targeted in virtual kidnappings, Warren said, adding that victims “often comply out of fear that their families will be harmed if they do not comply with online kidnappers.”
According to the FBI, while the crime can take countless forms, it is “almost always an extortion scheme” in which families are tricked into believing a loved one has been kidnapped and coerced into paying a fee, even though the person claims to be missing. Not actually taken. The Riverdale police statement said perpetrators often send audio recordings and photos to families in an attempt to convince them that the crime occurred. The Washington Post was unable to contact the Chinese Embassy in Washington to request comment.
Warren said Kai's high school called police on Thursday and reported him missing, saying his family in China had received photographic evidence that appeared to show he was being detained. Police said Kay's Riverdale host family was unaware of his disappearance, adding that there was no evidence to suggest the teen had been “forcibly abducted.”
Police said the teenager had been “manipulated and controlled” by the perpetrators in the days before he was found, and that they believe the victim “was isolating himself at the direction of the kidnappers online”.
Cai's relatives in China said they received “continuous threats” and as a result transferred nearly $80,000 in ransom fees to bank accounts in the country, according to a police statement.
Riverdale police said they worked with the FBI, the US Embassy in Beijing and Chinese officials to locate the student, and were concerned that he would “freeze to death” amid extremely low temperatures, which could reach as low as -9 degrees Fahrenheit this time. Of the year. Police said officers used drones to search the woods and walked to the secluded area where Kay was eventually found camping alone over the weekend.
Warren said Kay “had no heat source inside the tent, only a thermal blanket, a sleeping bag, limited food and water, and several phones that were supposedly used to carry out the online kidnapping.”
In recent years, FBI officials have issued guidance that they hope will prevent people from falling victim to scams like the one that took place in Utah over the weekend. The crime was previously limited to Mexico and the southwestern border states but now affects residents across the United States, the FBI said.
The tactic “is almost always an extortion scheme that tricks victims into paying a ransom to free a loved one they believe is threatened with violence or death,” the FBI said. Riverdale police said victims forced into isolation are usually monitored by perpetrators using Skype or FaceTime calls.
How to avoid becoming a victim of a virtual kidnapping scam
Families of people they believe have been kidnapped are usually asked to transfer ransom payments online – although cash has been offered in some cases, police said.
According to FBI guidelines, people should be wary of calls that do not come from the alleged victim's phone number and should not interact with them. “Do not send money,” Riverdale police added in their statement.
Warren said Kay was “relieved” to be saved. The police department posted footage on Facebook showing officers approaching the tent in the deserted area, leaning against the snow-covered ground. The video shows the teenager holding his head in his hands while officers at the scene try to calm him down.
Kay was examined by medical professionals and cleared of any concerns, and had only two requests for the investigators who found him: to speak to his family and eat a warm cheeseburger — “both of which were fulfilled,” police said.