A 16-year-old boy newly arrived in Canada from China is facing a charge of public mischief after police say he “staged” his own kidnapping to get attention and cash from his parents.
According to York Regional Police, officers were called to a home on Huntington Park Drive in Markham shortly after midnight on Sept. 27. Officers were shown a video of the teen that police say was sent to his parents in China via the social media app WeChat.
The video showed the student bound, gagged, wearing a blindfold and moaning, York police Const. Andy Pattenden, a spokesperson for the force, told CBC Toronto.
“What would have appeared to be a troubling video, for sure,” he said.
A text message accompanying the video demanded that the teen’s parents pay $1 million to secure his release.
“I can tell you that we devoted a significant amount of police resources to this investigation right away,” Pattenden said.
“Further investigation revealed that the student had actually staged this kidnapping in an effort to get attention from his parents, as well as cash,” he added.
Less than two hours after they were called, police found the student at a restaurant in the Valleymede Road and Highway 7 area of Richmond Hill. He was waiting for the money transfer but “instead ended up dealing with our officers,” Pattenden said.
The teen was arrested and is facing a charge of public mischief. He is due in court on Oct. 31.
Anyone with information about the case is asked to call York police or Crime Stoppers.Pattenden said the case “isn’t the first” the force has seen where a kidnapping has been staged in an attempt to get money from people living overseas, something that puts a strain on police resources.
“We have to act quickly as time is of the essence in the event that it is an actual kidnapping,” Pattenden said.
The case marks the second bizarre kidnapping incident in Markham involving an international student from China.
Back on Mar. 23, Wanzhen Lu was forced into a van in a condominium parking garage in Markham. He was found three days later on a rural road in Gravenhurst, Ont., about 200 kilometres northeast of Markham. He knocked on the door of a house in the quiet cottage town and asked for help.
In June, one of the accused pleaded guilty to kidnapping for ransom and sentenced to four years in prison.
Three other men are facing numerous charges of kidnapping, forcible confinement, assault with a weapon and assault, while another suspect remains at large.