Help Optometry Student Scam Victim Graduate

Hello, my name is Aaron Yau and I am a 2nd year student at the University of Waterloo's School of Optometry and Vision Science. I was born in Vancouver British Columbia and I left everything behind to travel all the way to Ontario to pursue my dream of becoming an Optometrist. Majoring in Biomedical Life Science, I studied for 4 years before I was accepted into Waterloo's Doctor of Optometry Program in 2019. Every year I've worked part-time jobs putting in 15-20 hrs/week to help pay for school, housing, and general living expenses. With the added help of some school bursaries, scholarships, and government loans, I've been able to get by. However, after the emotional and financial stress of this year, I don't know if I can anymore.

TLDR: I was recently scammed of nearly $100k by scammers that, according to the RCMP, were specifically targeting the Asian and Asian-Canadian community of British Columbia and Ontario.

In Sept, I received a call from a parcel delivery service about a package that was flagged and held in Xi'an (China) customs under my name. I asked UPS to confirm the details about the individual that sent the package and I was told the individual used a passport for his identification and the information used to send the package was Aaron Yau, [insert my passport number, home address, and phone number]. Someone had stolen my identity and was using my personal information to send their suspicious packages. I was redirected to the Xi'an Police to try and sort out the misunderstanding but I was told to cooperate with an ongoing investigation and immediately fly to China because my bank account was found to be associated with a money-laundering scheme. 

I panicked. I don't want to fly to China and I don't have a Chinese bank account. My personal information must have been used to open the bank account. I was told to cooperate with the investigation and I set up a separate Skype account to communicate with them. For the next 1.5 months, they gave me tips about how to protect my personal data from hackers, asked me to report suspicious email and phone numbers so they can track them, and they asked me to check in 4 times per day (when I wake up, eat breakfast, lunch and dinner, and when I go to bed) to ensure I don't run or commit suicide. I felt safe and I felt like I was being protected.

The police Captain took over my investigation and said they were investigating connections the money launderer had with Canadian banks and asked me to prove my willingness to cooperate with the investigation by transferring money to a non-biased 3rd party financial institute in Hong Kong that specialized in money tracing. HK has strained relations with China and seemed like a reliable 3rd party. With full trust in them, I wire transferred  $12,530 from my personal bank account to prove my innocence. I took all of the money from my accounts, all of the money I had worked and saved to pay for tuition, and sent it to these criminals.

Two weeks later they said the money was being processed but they needed money connected to the Canadian bank itself and told me to transfer $82,560.00 of my Professional line of credit. They said they will return the money in 1-2 months once the investigation into my account was over. Meanwhile, the Xi'an district Prosecutor said they were going to monitor my internet usage and tap my phone to ensure I would not communicate with any Chinese suspects or friends during this period to influence the financial institution analysis in any way. I was confident I could prove my innocence and I complied to everything the Prosecutor said. For the next 2 months, they remained in contact, I reported my daily check-ins and they reported any updates to the investigation. Then it all stopped. 

It's January 2021 now and they've ceased all contact with me. It hits me now that I have transferred $95,090  to these people and I started to become depressed. I set up investigations with the Vancouver Police, the Waterloo Police, and the Hong Kong police. I talked to Scotiabank and the Canadian Anti-Fraud Centre but none of them could offer any sort of legal help or financial compensation. 

I set up this GoFundMe page to help raise money to help cover just my tuition expenses. After talking to the Canadian authorities, I've learned a lot about the red flags in my story. The call in general, the need to transfer money overseas, the absurd story. I see it all now. It sounds so stupid to fall for something like this but in the months leading up to it, they manipulated me and I am ashamed to say they had all of my trust.

I don't know how I'll be able to continue to pay for tuition, I don't know if I will be able to graduate. After this year, I don't know how I'll afford housing, I don't know what to do if I don't reach out for help from others. 

Please Help. 

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Aaron Yau
Waterloo, ON

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