Woman pleads guilty to felony charges for blessing scam

A woman accused of defrauding two elderly women of $90,000 in cash and jewelry in a “Chinese blessing” scam pleaded guilty to felony charges Thursday in San Francisco Superior Court, according to the San Francisco District Attorney’s Office.

Xuefang Zhou, 62, pleaded guilty to six felony charges including conspiracy to commit grand theft, extortion and financial elder abuse, and faces a potential sentence of four years.

Zhou was charged in connection with two incidents in October of 2015 in which she and another suspect allegedly persuaded victims that their children would die soon unless they allowed the suspects to bless their cash and jewelry.

The suspects then allegedly arranged a switch and took the victim’s valuables.

Zhou has also been charged and convicted for a similar crime in New York that also occurred in October of 2014, and has an outstanding felony warrant out of Los Angeles County for a similar incident, according to court officials.

In a statement today District Attorney George Gascon said his office has been working to reduce the incidence of blessing scams through outreach, collaboration with other agencies around the country and aggressive prosecution of cases.

Gascon said:

“The fact that elderly Chinese woman are being targeted in light of their commonly held beliefs pains me greatly.”