In May, San Francisco police nabbed a trio of alleged crooks who had lured dozens of elderly, Asian women in the Sunset neighborhood with a bizarre ghost scam, in which they convinced the victims to hand over their money and valuables.
But even with those suspects behind bars and awaiting trial, more elderly Asian women have reported being victims of this very scam in recent weeks, according to police.
Sgt. Michael Andraychak says in the most recent cases, the suspects were also reportedly Asian females, preying on elderly females in the North Beach neighborhood. Police have put out this video to warn the Asian community of these scams.
In May, police arrested Lirong Lin, 57, Caiqiong Chen, 43, and Huifei Lin, 42, on suspicion of
grand theft, extortion, and elder financial abuse. Feiyan Wu, 45, and Qinying Ke, 47, were also arrested on out-of-state warrants.
The women, police say, are responsible for scamming some $1 million from more than 30 victims. The scam reportedly fanned out to the East Coast, where police there were seeing similar cases.
In San Francisco, the suspects would approach the victims and convince them they were possessed by evil spirits. The suspects would offer to help the victims rid themselves of the spirits by praying over their money and jewelry.
The victims would do as instructed: Gather their valuables and meet the suspects at a certain venue. The suspects would then place the cash and jewelry in a bag and conduct a praying ceremony. When they were done, they would give the victim the bag and tell her not to look in it for a certain period of time -- if she did, the prayers would not work.
When the victims finally peeked in the bag, they would find their valuables gone, replaced by trash and newspapers, police said.
Anyone with information in these cases is requested to contact Inspector Kim Lewis or Inspector Julie Yee of the Financial Crimes Unit at 415-553-1521, the anonymous tip line at 575-4444, or Text-a-Tip to TIP411 and begin the message with SFPD.
S.F. police have also established a Limited English Proficiency Tip Line for the public to provide information related to this investigation in Cantonese at 553-9212 or 1-855-SFPD-TIP.
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