SAN FRANCISCO (KCBS) – Three women and a man were arrested at the Alemany Farmers’ Market over the weekend for allegedly stealing jewelry from elderly women, San Francisco District Attorney George Gascón said Wednesday.

The four suspects used a scam that targets Cantonese-speaking women, preying on cultural beliefs by offering to pray over the victims’ money and jewelry in order to banish evil spirits.

KCBS’ Margie Shafer Reports:

“They approach elderly Chinese women, monolingual speakers,” Gascón said, adding that more than 50 victims have come forward locally in the last six months.

Three others were arrested in May for also perpetrating the scam, which has been reported in cities across the United States and in Hong Kong.

Typically a victim is approached by two people who try to convince her to place money and jewelry into a bag so they can say prayers to rid her of evil spirits. The victims are then instructed not to look inside the bag for a period of time, only to discover later it has been filled with rocks and trash.

“Don’t let strangers come up and talk you out of your things,” Gascón warned.

The San Francisco Police Department produced a re-enactment video that has been shown at several community meetings to increase awareness of the ploy.

(Copyright 2012 by CBS San Francisco. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.)


Leave a Reply

Please log in using one of these methods to post your comment:

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s

More From CBS San Francisco

Get The New CBS SF Bay Area Local App
LIVE: Monday through Friday from 3am – 3pm PST

Watch & Listen LIVE