SAN FRANCISCO (CBS SF) – Police arrested two women last week as they were allegedly trying to flee to China after extorting members of San Francisco’s Chinese community in blessing scams, police said Monday.

Officers apprehended the pair, identified as 51-year-old Mudi Wu and 45-year-old Fuxi Dai, at Los Angeles International Airport on Dec. 24.  The two were then taken back to San Francisco where they interviewed and arrested on suspicion of grand theft, petty theft, extortion and elder abuse charges.

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Police said the women targeted older members of the city’s Chinese community by claiming to lift a curse or alleviate an illness with purification ceremonies that involve the offering of cash and other valuables.

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Between Nov. 29 and Dec. 14, Wu and Dai performed four blessing scams and swindled cash and jewelry totaling more than $180,000, according to police.

The arrests were a result of a collaboration between San Francisco police, Los Angeles police, the San Francisco District Attorney’s Office, U.S. Customs and Border Protection and Los Angeles Airport police.

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