New phone scam swindles Chinese-speaking New Yorkers of millions, AG warns

State Attorney General Eric Schneiderman warned Thursday of a new phone scam targeting Chinese Americans and those with Chinese last names.

The calls fraudulently appear on caller ID as coming from the “Chinese Consulate,” and have impersonators speaking in Chinese, according to the AG. The scammers demand payment to the “consulate” to resolve one of many phony incidents.

Schneiderman said 21 Chinese immigrants have been victimized in New York City since December 2017 for a total of $2.5 million.

Although the calls have been reported by victims of many races, Schneiderman said they are most problematic for Asian-American immigrants.

“It’s unconscionable that someone would prey on New Yorkers — including vulnerable recent immigrants — to try to turn a profit,” he said in a statement.

The attorney general advised anyone receiving such calls to contact Federal Trade Commission hotline at 1-877-FTC-HELP (382-4357).

Little is yet known about the perpetrators behind the scam, but Schneiderman said they are making the calls from outside the U.S. and primarily targeting people with Chinese-sounding last names.

Some of the scammers instructed callers to send money for a package, while others fooled people into thinking they needed to provide private information to avoid trouble with the “Chinese Consulate.” In some instances, callers asked New Yorkers to call a number that rerouted to a 911 center in Arkansas.

The attorney general’s office said that as of Wednesday, April 25, the call center had received 500 complaints from New Yorkers targeted by the scam.

More from around NYC