The scam involves students being contacted by phone or online and told that their name has come up in a fraud investigation.
“[They say] the victim’s information has been used to commit a fraud and they require proof that they are not part of the criminal enterprise,” Kingston Police said.
“This may require the victim to share banking information or even make a payment. The suspects often claim to be working with the RCMP [Mounties],” they elaborated.
The police said that students should be on the lookout for signs of the scam when they are contacted “out of the blue”, especially if they’re being asked to provide personal information or bank details.
They warned students that the scam would often involve someone telling them to “act immediately or they will be arrested”.
Anthony Hampton, an officer working in the fraud unit at Kingston Police, wrote on X, formerly known as Twitter, to try to warn international students about the scam.
“Suspects ask for [money] wire to prove victim’s ID or avoid detention,” Hampton wrote.
Queen’s University is one of two prominent institutions in the area that hosts international students.
The other, St Lawrence College, has approximately 10% of its total student body listed as international students, but Alpha College, which is a partner of St Lawrence located in nearby Scarborough, reportedly has a majority body of international students.
“The suspects often claim to be working with the RCMP”
Neither Queen’s or St Lawrence replied to The PIE’s request for comment, and no public PSAs or warnings have been produced on the institution’s social media channels or websites.
Police also said that the scam was particularly targeting international students from China, with suspects claiming to be law enforcement from source countries, working with the federal police.
According to the Criminal Investigations Unit, one person had “already been defrauded” out of CAN$23,000 as a result of the scam.