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Police say elderly Asian women being targeted in "blessing scam"

Last Updated Oct 10, 2015 at 12:43 pm PDT

(iStock Photo)
Summary

Vancouver Police are again warning of a group of fraud artists committing so-called "blessing scams''

Avoid speaking with strangers making offers of good fortune: VPD

VANCOUVER (NEWS 1130) – Vancouver Police are out with another warning of a group of fraud artists committing so-called “blessing scams” that appear to be targeting elderly Asian women. It has been happening regularly since 2013.

The most recent case involves a 77-year-old woman who was convinced by a group of strangers that a family member had a ghost attached to them, and was instructed to bring cash and jewellery to be blessed — only to never see her valuables again.

“It’s unfortunate. These are individuals that are preying on someone’s fears and safety for their family and they’re basically stealing large quantities of money and jewellery from them as a result,” says Vancouver Police Constable Brian Montague.

He adds while they investigate, they need the public to do their part. “We want people to be aware this is happening. We want to let individuals know they should be talking to their friends and family members about this type of crime, what to look for and to what to avoid.”

Police are looking for three Asian women in their 40s in connection to this latest incident.

The “ceremony” involved in the scam sees the victim having to place their money and gems in a bag to be blessed. When the bag is returned to them, they’re told not to open it for several days and not to tell their family. When they finally do open it, it’s empty and the suspects are gone.

Tips from the VPD

  • avoid speaking with strangers making offers of good fortune
  • never provide money or valuables to be “blessed”
  • call 9-1-1 if approached by strangers making any unusual offers