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Friday, October 17, 2014

Scammers Use "Purification Ceremonies" to Dupe Chinese Victims of Money

Posted By on Fri, Oct 17, 2014 at 2:29 PM

click to enlarge Suspect 1
  • Suspect 1
The bizarre Asian ghost scammers are back screweing over hard-wroking residents after a short summer hiatus. Police are reporting two instances where older Chinese victims have been scammed since the start of October, according to police.

In both cases, the victims were convinced that a “doctor” could cure them of various diseases by blessing their money and jewelry — the same tactic used last year when the Chinese community was hit hard by the scammers.

Police are seeking three Cantonese-speaking suspects who they said robbed victims of some major money. In one case, a woman was taken for $80,000 in cash and $40,000 in jewelry. The victims were coaxed into bringing them a bag with large amounts of valuables in it for a "blessing," according to police.

“Through sleight of hand, another bag containing worthless items was given back to the victim,” police wrote in a press statement emailed to the press. “The victim was instructed not to look in the bag for a specified amount of time or the ‘blessing’ would be invalidated.”

As previously reported, these scammers, who prey on the cultural beliefs in the Cantonese community in San Francisco, are not entirely original. Con artists have targeted elderly Chinese women in San Francisco since 2012, exploiting their system of beliefs and sense of duty to protect their children. 

In 2013, a jury found four individuals guilty of varying charges of attempted grand theft after they scammed an elderly Chinese woman out of $47,000. The group was busted after attempting to dupe another woman who had seen a public service announcement from elected officials, warning of San Franciscans of "Blessing Scams." The would-be victim led police to the perpetrators, who claimed in court that the Chinese mafia groups forced them into this by threatening to kill their children they had been holding in captivity.

SFPD is urging potential victims and anyone with information on the suspects to contact them.

Until they’re caught, be weary of strangers that claim they can “purify” your goods or relieve you from a curse, especially if you’re an “older member of the Chinese community,” police said.

Anonymous tipsters can call the SFPD at 415-553-9212.

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