‘Virtual kidnappings’ warning for Chinese students in Australia

Sydney (AFP) – Elaborate “virtual kidnappings” are being used to extort money from the friends and relatives of Chinese students Down Under, Australian police warned Monday, after a spate of transnational scams were reported.

Police said that conmen claiming to be Chinese authorities had netted millions of US dollars in ransoms by scaring students into faking their own kidnappings.

The scammers — often calling in Mandarin and claiming to be from the Chinese embassy, police or consulate — initially say the victim is accused of a crime in China or tell them their identity has been stolen before threatening them with deportation or arrest unless a fee is paid, police said.

The fraudsters then continue to threaten the victim, often over encrypted message services, until they transfer large sums into offshore bank accounts.

In some cases, victims were told to cease contact with friends and relatives, then make videos of

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How a Chinese agent used LinkedIn to hunt for targets

Dickson Yeo
Dickson Yeo

Jun Wei Yeo, an ambitious and freshly enrolled Singaporean PhD student, was no doubt delighted when he was invited to give a presentation to Chinese academics in Beijing in 2015.

His doctorate research was about Chinese foreign policy and he was about to discover firsthand how the rising superpower seeks to attain influence.

After his presentation, Jun Wei, also known as Dickson, was, according to US court documents, approached by several people who said they worked for Chinese think tanks. They said they wanted to pay him to provide “political reports and information”. They would later specify exactly what they wanted: “scuttlebutt” – rumours and insider knowledge.

He soon realised they were Chinese intelligence agents but remained in contact with them, a sworn statement says. He was first asked to focus on countries in South East Asia but later, their interest turned to the US government.

That was

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Singaporean academic pleads guilty to being Chinese agent in Washington

consulate - Houston Chronicle
consulate – Houston Chronicle

A Singaporean man has admitted being an agent for Chinese intelligence, setting up a fake consulting firm in Washington as part of an elaborate plot to obtain information from US government and Pentagon officials.

Jun Wei Yeo, 39, also known as Dickson Yeo, pleaded guilty to a charge of acting within the United States as an illegal agent of a foreign power.

It was the latest development in an escalation of tensions between the US and China which saw tit-for-tat consulate closures this week.

The US shut China’s consulate in Houston, calling it a hub for spying. Beijing responded by ordering Washington to close its consulate in Chengdu.

According to the US justice department Yeo was recruited by China when he was a PhD student at the National University of Singapore, and went on to be an academic researcher at The George Washington University in the

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Chinese executives get ‘pre-test’ injections in vaccine race

BEIJING (AP) — In the global race to make a coronavirus vaccine, a state-owned Chinese company is boasting that its employees, including top executives, received experimental shots even before the government approved testing in people.

“Giving a helping hand in forging the sword of victory,” reads an online post from SinoPharm with pictures of company leaders it says helped “pre-test” its vaccine.

Whether it’s viewed as heroic sacrifice or a violation of international ethical norms, the claim underscores the enormous stakes as China competes with U.S. and British companies to be the first with a vaccine to help end the pandemic — a feat that would be both a scientific and political triumph.

“Getting a COVID-19 vaccine is the new Holy Grail,” said Lawrence Gostin, a global public health law expert at Georgetown University. “The political competition to be the first is no less consequential than the race for the

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