Chinese student found after ‘suspected abduction’. Picture: Shanghaiist
Chinese student found after ‘suspected abduction’. Picture: Shanghaiist

Student ‘kidnapped, tortured’ in Sydney

A CHINESE student allegedly kidnapped in Sydney nearly two weeks ago and held for a $1.27 million bitcoin ransom has been found "safe and well" by NSW Police.

Ye Jingwang, 20, was last seen leaving a Hurstville unit on Friday, August 23.

According to reports in Chinese media, his father was sent a video the following day showing the student blindfolded and with a bloodied face.

The alleged kidnappers warned he would have an "accident" if they were not paid 80 bitcoin ($1.27 million).

Two days later, they sent another video featuring Mr Jingwang begging his father to rescue him, the Shanghaiist website reported.

According to the Chinese-language Southern Metropolis Daily, Mr Jingwang's family arrived in Australia over the weekend.

NSW Police could not confirm whether any ransom was paid.

"A man has been located safe and well following his disappearance and suspected abduction last month," a spokeswoman said in a statement.

"The 20-year-old man was last seen leaving a unit on Woids Ave, Hurstville, about 10am on Friday, 23 August. Following information received by the man's family, a concern for his welfare was raised with police the next day."

Detectives from the Robbery and Serious Crime Squad established Strike Force Galleghan to investigate the incident.

"Following extensive investigations, the man was located by police at Mooney Mooney on the state's Central Coast about 5.30pm on Sunday, 1 September," the spokeswoman said.

"He has since been reunited with his family. No arrests or charges have been laid at this stage and investigations are continuing. No further information is available."

Last year, Australian Federal Police issued a warning about a complex "fake virtual kidnapping" scam that conned families of Chinese and Taiwanese university students studying in Australia out of $2 million.

According to the AFP, victims of the scam are contacted by someone claiming to be from the Chinese embassy and threatened with deportation over alleged crimes in China.

The scammers then coerce the victims into a series of actions, including filming fake hostage videos and making threats that their families in China will be harmed if they don't co-operate.

At the same time, the victims' families in China are told by the scammer that their family members have been kidnapped and will only be released if a large sum of money is paid.

The scammers typically communicate with the victims in Mandarin and falsely claim to be Chinese government officials. Chinese authorities have stressed that officials will not advise of legal cases or seek to verify personal information over the phone.

AFP Cyber Crime Operations Commander David McLean told SBS News last year there were "certainly at least 25 cases that we are aware of in Australia, however, we are confident there are more - that's 25 that we are dealing with".

There are more than 230,000 Chinese students living in Australia. "The victims are distributed among the major capitals, particularly where we've got concentrations of Chinese students," Cdr McLean said.

Monash University senior lecturer in criminology Lennon Chang said at the time this type of scam had been around for decades and had just evolved with technology.

"It's not a new scam, just a new target," Dr Chang said.

"It started in the late 1990s in Taiwan and the scammer would call parents in Taiwan telling them that they kidnapped their child and demanding a ransom. They would usually have the sound of a child in the background saying, 'Mum, dad, help me!' to make it more believable."

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