Despite warnings from SFPD and the District Attorney's office over the last few years, so-called "blessing" scams continue to target the elderly in Chinatown. On Monday, August 8th, another such scam occurred in which a victim lost $40,000 in cash and jewelry after three suspects conned them into believing that a loved one would be cursed if the goods were not blessed.
In this newest case, SFPD's Officer Grace Gatpandan told us that the victim was approached by a woman who asked if they knew of a doctor nearby because a member of her family had fallen severely ill. Another suspect approached and said that she knew of a doctor and convinced the victim to come along with them to consult with the physician.
While on their way to the doctor, another woman approached the group and identified herself as a fortuneteller who told the victim that a loved one would be cursed because they "will mistakenly step in the blood of another person." The victim was told that in order to prevent this, they must provide valuables to be blessed.
After convincing the victim to bring cash and jewelry to a predetermined spot on the street, the suspects performed a "blessing," and through sleight of hand, took the loot and returned a bag containing "worthless" items in its place. The victim was told not to look inside the bag for a specified period of time or else the blessing would not work.
SFPD is urging the Chinese-American community to be suspicious of anyone claiming to provide "purification" ceremonies or to cure curses where cash or valuables are required as part of the process. If confronted with a similar situation, potential victims are asked to contact police immediately.
Anyone with information is asked to contact the Central Station Investigation Team at 415-315-2400, the SFPD Anonymous Tip line at 415-575-4444, or Text a Tip to TIP411 and begin the text with "SFPD".
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