A HONG KONG student in Canada allegedly staged his own kidnapping so he could use the C$120,000 ransom money from his wealthy father to pay off gambling debts he owed to a Vietnamese gang. Ip Chun, 22, appeared in a Toronto court charged with attempted fraud and public mischief, both of which carry jail sentences, after he allegedly tried to obtain C$120,000 (HK$672,000) from his father, a Western-based merchant. Ip was released on bail. He is also being investigated for car thefts, which Canadian detectives believe he was forced into by the gang to which he owed money. Ip was arrested after a four-day joint Canadian/Royal Hong Kong Police operation. Superintendent Bob Youill, of Hong Kong's Organised Crime and Triad Bureau, said he believed Ip was going to use the ransom to pay off the interest on his huge debts. Several well-organised ''gambling dens'' have been established in recent years in Toronto's Chinatown under the control of violent Vietnamese gangsters. Ip apparently became hooked, and lost at least C$500,000 (HK$2.8 million) in the three years since he moved to study economics at Toronto University. Police said it was when he received a ''final demand'' from the loansharks that he planned his own abduction. ''We took the initial report and helped the Canadians track the communications between the kidnappers and the family,'' Superintendent Youill said. Ip's father received the first call with the ransom demand late on August 20 and immediately reported it to Hong Kong police. ''The group said they had weapons and threatened to kill him [Ip],'' Superintendent Youill said. ''But he was picked up in a restaurant in Chinatown known for after-hours gambling.'' Canadian police are still investigating the kidnapping and also other offences that they believe involved the same gang. Ip's father was unavailable for comment last night. Canada has become popular for wealthy Hong Kong families to send their children to for study. Many of them live in expensive houses, drive luxury cars and return to the territory for holidays. There are several cases reported in which affluent Hong Kong students have become involved in gangs and criminal activities.