Scams target elderly Chinese Americans in SF


There are two scams going on; in the first, somebody walks up to a victim and talks about going to see an herbal doctor, then a third suspect then joins the conversation:

"Suspect three comes and says I'm the herbal doctor's daughter or granddaughter and you just stepped over a spot where a person was killed, and the ghost is attached to you, and you are cursed and you are going to die, your family is going to die too unless you purify your valuables," said San Francisco Police Dept Capt. Curtis Lum.

Police say the victims have then all gone home, gathered their valuables and handed them over to the thieves.

"Suspect number three performs some sort of ritual over the bag and gives the bag back to the woman but tells her, don't look in it otherwise the ritual is not going to work, eventually the woman opens up the bag and finds that all her valuables are gone," said Lum.

Police say this has happened at least four times to people ranging in age from 60 to 80. They have sketches of what they think three of the four suspects look like. Investigators estimate they have walked away with at least $100,000 worth of jewelry in this scam.

In the other scheme, police say the criminals convince the victim that a jade bracelet will bring them good health, luck and wealth. Three victims have paid between $2,000 and $15,000 for the jewelry.

"These victims are spending a lot of money on a bracelet that's worth about $10," said Lum.

Police say these thieves speak to the victims in Cantonese and approach them while they're out walking alone

"What's being preyed upon are the peoples' superstition. So in the Chinese culture there is superstition and we believe in ghosts, we believe in ancestors, things like that, so the suspects know what victims are thinking and prey upon them," said Lum.

This has been happening in the Sunset District. The last incident happened on Friday night.

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