Boots & Sabers

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0918, 03 Jan 24

Cyber Kidnappings on the Rise

I had never heard of such a thing.

Student Kai Zhuang was reported missing by his high school last week and later found “very cold and scared” in a tent in rural Utah after anonymous scammers convinced the 17-year-old to isolate himself, according to local police.


Once the teenager was alone in the wilderness, officials said the kidnappers sent a ransom demand and a picture – that Zhuang took of himself – to his parents in China and claimed he had been abducted. Zhuang’s family eventually paid $80,000 (£62,600) to the perpetrators.


Experts told the BBC that advancements in technology have made it easier for criminals to pursue cyber kidnapping schemes. While there is no clear data on the number of cases, they said, Zhuang’s experience is not an isolated occurrence.

There have been several cases in which Chinese foreign exchange students in other countries – including Canada and Australia – were coerced into staging their own kidnappings to extort money from relatives, said Dr Maras, who has studied cyber kidnapping cases.


0918, 03 January 2024


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