To safeguard themselves against being extradited to their country of origin and facing possible imprisonment, the students are offered the opportunity to pay a fee.

During negotiations, scammers will advise the victim to set up an extortion attempt targeting their parents.

As it escalates, they are forced to fake their own kidnappings.

Detective Superintendent Peter Foley said the victims suffered serious financial and psychological effects as a result of their ordeal.

“The vulnerable victims of crime are young international students who have likely left their families for the first time and are alone in a foreign country,” he said.

“The scammers prey on their vulnerabilities and exploit the distance between the victim and their families.

“It is practically impossible for the families to confirm that the victim is actually safe and well, and that no charges have been laid against them by foreign authorities.”

Foley said scammers typically told the victim they were linked to a crime and used information about the victim, either from social media or other sources, and fake documents to legitimise the scam.

“Feelings of helplessness and shame discourage victims from contacting police after they have been scammed,” he said.

“It’s likely our statistics do not paint the full picture and there may be more victims out there. We encourage all victims to come forward. You are not to blame and there is help at hand.”

WA Police are working with universities to educate international students on how they can protect themselves.

Police have advised students to speak with their families about the prevalence of the scam ahead of time, and to give their parents the contact details of the university and a close friend as a second point of contact.

If you are a victim of cybercrime you should report using ReportCyber at

The Scamwatch website also has information about scams in different languages for overseas family.