The Los Angeles County District Attorney’s Office last Friday warned people with deep religious or spiritual beliefs to be aware of a hoax that can result in the loss of cash and valuables.
The “Blessing Scam” is a crime in which someone, often a senior citizen, is promised a blessing or spiritual healing if they put valuable items and cash in a bag that then is swapped for another bag.
The con is particularly prevalent in the Chinese-American community.
Operators working in a group will pretend to not know each other in befriending and sometimes cornering the victim.
They will ask personal questions they then secretly transmit to a so- called spiritual doctor or psychic. The supposed spiritual adviser will then casually appear and use the information to convince the victim of his or her psychic abilities.
The crooks will then persuade the object of the hoax that an awful misfortune awaits the victim or a family member, unless a blessing ceremony is performed.
In a recent case, a senior citizen put more than $70,000 in cash and jewelry in a bag for a blessing. The scammers switched the bag and told the woman not to open the bag for two days or the blessing wouldn’t work. When she opened the bag, she discovered it was full of newspaper strips, officials said.
The DA’s office offered these tips to avoid being fooled by the ruse:
— Talk to family members or friends before agreeing to any spiritual help involving providing valuable 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 beware of people unusually interested in getting to know you.