Victims are told they need to collect a package from the consulate

Con artists are targeting Chinese residents in Massachusetts with a telephone scam.

According to Herald News, phone scammers are targeting Chinese residents in Massachusetts by pretending to be the Chinese Consulate.

Victims are threatened to hand over their bank information, credit card numbers and other personal information.

“People across the country have reported getting a call or message saying they have to pick up a package at the Chinese Consulate office, or they need you to give them information to avoid being in trouble,” said the U.S. Federal Trade Commission – the federal agency responsible for tracking consumer complaints nationwide.

There has reportedly been an increased number of targeted calls in Massachusetts.

Last month, police in Cambridge, Massachusetts, helped to recover $95,000 for one resident who wired it to Hong Kong who was tricked into believing she was the subject of an international arrest.

The scammers texted her fake documents that included her photograph and personal information as evidence. She was informed that she had to send the money to get out of trouble.

Cambridge Police Chinese-speaking officers were able to work with Hong Kong official to freeze the bank account as the wire transfer was made by the victim over the weekend.

“If she had waited until Monday to tell us, her money would have been lost,” said Jeremy Warnick, a Cambridge Police spokesman.

A similar scam in Lexington occurred in April, where a victim was called by someone pretending to be from the government. She was threatened with arrest if she did not wire money to them. The victim wired over $17,000 before reporting the incident.

Another Lexington resident was also called two days earlier, asking for their passport information.

“Recently, there are several similar instances of scams targeting the Chinese-American population,” Lexington Police wrote in a letter, also translated into Mandarin. “Please note that these are frauds and formal institutions will not require people to wire money.”

The FTC believes the scammers are targeting residents with Chinese surnames. The top 10 Massachusetts cities and towns with the biggest Chinese populations are in the greater Boston area: Boston (25,921), Quincy (14,979), Malden (6,926), Cambridge (6,693), Newton (6,040), Brookline (4,432), Lexington (2,984), Somerville (2,422), Acton (2,063) and Waltham (2,012).

However, the FTC also warns that con artists do not always stick to the same strategy. “As we know, scammers can change tactics quickly,” according to the FTC.

The real Chinese Consulate in New York has issued a notice warning about telephone scams as well as WeChat scams. People are urged to ignore the scams and report them to law enforcement.