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Thursday, August 23, 2012

DA Determined to Stop Those Weird Ghost Scams Plaguing the Chinese Community

Posted By on Thu, Aug 23, 2012 at 3:18 PM

The DA's New Job Title
  • The DA's New Job Title
Those nefarious ghost scammers are apparently still spooking folks in San Francisco, enough so that police are planning community meetings to help get the word out.

District Attorney George Gascón announced today that he has set up three meetings to talk about these still very active scammers, and to encourage victims and witnesses who've crossed paths with the suspects to speak up.

Readers probably recall that in May, police arrested a trio of alleged thieves who are suspected of making off with thousands of dollars worth of jewelry from elderly Asian women by tricking them with a Chinese ghost scam.

Police arrested Lirong Lin, Caiqiong Chen, and Huifei Lin 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, but were later released.

Even with that trio locked up, there's still an active gang of ghost scammers that's still ripping off members of the Asian community. And they're "getting more aggressive," Gascón said.

Instead of smooth-talking their victims on the street, they're reportedly going from door to door. The most recently reported incident occurred in the Sunset District, where the suspects approached a mark, but she apparently sensed trouble and declined their offer for a spiritual cleanse.

In earlier incidents, the suspects would approach the victims on the street and convince them that they were "possessed by evil spirits." To rid themselves of the spirits, the suspects told the victims to collect their valuables in a bag, and return to a certain location, where the suspects would conduct a praying ceremony over the bag to rid victims of the spirits. Afterward, the suspects gave the bag back to the victims, who were most always Asian women, and told them not to look in the bag for a certain period of time -- otherwise, the spirits would return.

When the victims finally did open the bag, they found their valuables had been replaced with trash and newspapers. All told, the three suspects in jail are allegedly responsible for stealing more than $1 million in jewelry and other valuables, police said.

So if you want more information about how to not become the next victim, feel free to attend any of these community meetings. The first is scheduled for Aug. 29 at 11 a.m. at the Green Mun Senior Center; the second is on Sept. 18 at 11 a.m. at the Self Help for the Elderly, and the third is set for Oct. 3 at 1:30 p.m. at Asian Pacific American Community Center.

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Suzanne Stathatos


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