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Crooks Target Seniors with Blessing Scams
By Sentinel News Service
Published January 29, 2019

Seniors with deep religious or spiritual beliefs, particularly those in immigrant communities, should be aware of a hoax that exploits those ideas and can result in the loss of cash and valuables.

The Blessing Scam is a con in which an elderly person is promised a blessing or spiritual healing by putting valuable items and cash in a bag that is then secretly swapped for an empty bag. The scam is particularly prevalent in the Chinese community.

Fraudsters working in a group will pretend to not know each other and befriend and sometimes corner the victim. They will ask personal questions that they then secretly transmit to a so-called spiritual doctor or psychic. The supposed spiritual advisor will then casually show up and use the information gathered to convince the senior of his or her psychic abilities.

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The crook will then convince the victim that a terrible misfortune awaits the senior or a family member unless a blessing ceremony is performed by putting money in a bag, which the scammer switches with another bag.

TIPS:

  • Talk to family members before agreeing to any spiritual help that involves providing valuables or personal information.
  • If anyone approaches offering to bless items or warns of impending doom, leave immediately and call police.
  • Travel with someone whenever possible and keep a lookout for people unusually interested in getting to know you.

For a printable version of this fraud alert in English, click here. For a printable version in Chinese, click here.

Deputy District Attorney Ruth Low explains how the scam works in this video.

Click here for a Cantonese version of the video featuring Deputy District Attorney Duke Chau.

For a version in Mandarin,  click here.

Follow @LADAOffice on Twitter and Instagram for up-to-date news and use #FraudFriday.

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Categories: District Attorney News | News
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