An elderly Chinese woman lost $40,000 in a so-called “blessing” scam Monday, police announced in a statement.
San Francisco police said the con issued an advisory over the latest in an ongoing series of scams targeting older Chinese victims.
In Monday’s incident, the first of three female Cantonese-speaking suspects approached the victim and asked if she knew a doctor in the area because a family member had fallen ill, police said.
The second suspect then joined the conversation, said that she knows a doctor, and persuaded the victim to all visit the doctor together.
While walking to the doctor, the third suspect approached the group and acted as a fortuneteller.
The fortuneteller told the victim that one of her loved ones would be cursed because she would mistakenly step in another person’s blood. To avoid the curse, the fortuneteller convinced the victim to bring cash and jewelry to a nearby street, according to police.
A “blessing” was then performed and, through sleight of hand, the suspects switched out the victim’s valuables for a bag of worthless items.
The victim was told not to open the bag for a specified period of time or the blessing would be invalidated, police said.
Police are warning members of the Chinese community to be suspicious of strangers providing purification ceremonies that require them to offer valuable items.