Though some of the alleged scam artists who stole cash and jewelry from elderly Chinese residents of the Sunset District are now awaiting trial, SFPD says that they are now receiving reports of similar crimes in the North Beach/Chinatown area, and have released a video with reenactments of the crimes.
According to SFPD, in most of these cases, the Cantonese speaking suspects would approach victims one at a time and convince the mostly Asian female victims that they were possessed by evil spirits.
The suspects then offered to help the victims rid themselves of evil spirits by praying over their money and jewelry. Victims would then gather their valuables and put them into a bag, as instructed by the suspects.
The suspects would then pray over the bags and return it to the victims, instructing them not to look into the bag for a period of time, lest their prayers be ineffective.
Sadly, the returned bags would contain “newspapers and trash,” reports SF Weekly, and the victims’ goods would be gone.
Though three female suspects were nabbed for these crimes earlier this year, reports of similar crimes have hit SFPD’s Central Station, which is why SFPD recently released the above video to educate the public on this scam and encourage victims and witnesses to come forward.
SFPD is asking the public to use caution when approached by any strangers under the aforementioned circumstances.
As SFPD’s press release states, “Do not speak to strangers offering good fortune or unusual offers. Do not give money or valuables to be ‘purified.’ If approached by any of these suspects with similar inquiries, please call 911.”
Anyone with information is encouraged to contact Inspector Kim Lewis or Inspector Julie Yee of the Financial Crimes Unit at (415) 553-1521, or the anonymous tip line at (415) 575-4444.
You can also anonymously text a tip to TIP411 with SFPD at the beginning of the message.
SFPD also offers a Limited English Proficiency Tip Line for those more comfortable speaking in Cantonese. That number is (415) 553-9212 or (855) SFPD-TIP.