SAN FRANCISCO (CBS SF) – A San Francisco woman was cheated of $5,000 in a “blessing scam” last week and police are warning residents to beware of con artists targeting the Chinese community.
The victim was approached on July 11 in the Sunset District by an Asian woman who asked for directions to a healing salon.
As they were talking, a second male suspect who was walking by offered to let them use his smartphone to help and then convinced the victim to walk with him to a nearby car.
At the car, a third suspect, an older Asian man, led the woman to believe she had cancer and convinced her to give him $5,000 in return for a cure, police said.
The suspects said they would return some of the money later in the day but never did.
The incident is not the first of its kind in San Francisco, where scammers have repeatedly targeted elderly Chinese residents.
Police in 2016 reported a series of such incidents, with one victim losing $40,000.
In January of this year, Xuefang Zhou pleaded guilty to felony charges in connection with two such cases in 2015 that defrauded two elderly women of $90,000 in cash and jewelry.
Prosecutors said at the time that Zhou had also been charged and convicted for a similar crime in New York from 2014 and had an outstanding felony warrant out of Los Angeles for another offense.
Police are urging residents to be wary of strangers claiming to provide relief from a curse, cure an illness or provide “purification” ceremonies that require cash and valuables. The children or caregivers of elderly Chinese community members should discus these scams with their relatives and urge them to be careful.
Anyone approached with such offers should contact police immediately. They can call the tip line at (415) 575-4444 or send a text message to TIP411 and begin it with “SFPD.”