A Chinese exchange student who fell victim to a "cyber kidnapping" scam in which his parents were extorted for $80,000, was found alive but "cold and scared" in a tent in the Utah wilderness, police said.

The student, 17, was reported missing on Thursday after his parents in China told officials at his host high school in Riverdale, Utah, that he appeared to have been kidnapped and a ransom had been requested.

The case followed a typical pattern for cyber kidnapping, in which "kidnappers" tell a victim to isolate and provide pictures of oneself as if being held captive — photos that are then sent to the victim's family to extort a payment.