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How This Chinese Immigrant in San Francisco Lost $50,000 Worth of Gold in Blessing Scam

The strangers who spoke Cantonese, convinced the woman to bring out her valuables from home for a blessing ceremony by insisting that she was cursed.
Cover Image Source: San Francisco, CA, United States | Pexels
Cover Image Source: San Francisco, CA, United States | Pexels

A Chinese immigrant in her late 60s was walking home in San Frrancisco when she was approached by three women. The group, which spoke Cantonese, convinced the woman to bring her valuables from home for a blessing ceremony insisting she was cursed. During the so-called ceremony, the scammer managed to surreptitiously switch the bag containing Wong's $50,000 worth of gold with another bag that contained only $1,000 in cash.

"I think I was almost hypnotized so I completely trusted them at the time," Vickie Wong told The Standard. "I ‘woke up’ hours later and found out it’s a scam."

These scams shocked law enforcement initially and have become more common than one would think. The scam is especially prevalent in the Chinese community and all the victims so far have been older women. Now, the District Attorney’s Office has started an education campaign to spread awareness in the Chinese community. Other cases have revealed that these scammers are sometimes Chinese citizens with visas who travel around U.S. Chinese communities to find victims, which makes it difficult for law enforcement to catch them. The authorities also said that these scams had become dormant during the pandemic but have been rising again.

"Unscrupulous scammers are back trying to defraud vulnerable victims in our city," said District Attorney Brooke Jenkins. "My office will do everything we can to educate the public to prevent these incidents from happening, and also work to hold perpetrators accountable and ensure that they face consequences for their crimes."

Pexels | Photo by Pixabay
Seniors are increasingly becoming victims of crypto scams (representative image) | Pexels | Photo by Pixabay

As per Anni Chung, the CEO of Self-Help for the Elderly, more than 60 seniors have fallen prey to these scams and term them as one of their "biggest nightmares." According to Wong, she was first approached by a woman who asked her for the nearest doctor for her daughter claiming that she "was possessed." When Wong said she didn't know, another woman appeared out of nowhere and led them to a relatively quiet place. During the conversation, a third woman approached them and told them that she was the granddaughter of the famous doctor who treated possessed patients.

Unbeknownst to Wong, the third woman who joined the conversation much later had been listening to their conversation the entire time. After she approached Wong, she used some of the collected information to make her believe that she knew all about Wong. She then said that the doctor had power and he was the one who had told her that Wong too needed help. This led Wong to buy the story that these three women were selling. Now the authorities say that the scam sounds very similar to the other scams that were previously documented. "It always starts with the famous doctor," authorities said.

Now, the police department announced that they have successfully arrested the male suspect who was linked to these scams. "I hope the city leaders will put out more signs or have more police cars in the Chinese community," Wong said in Cantonese to The Standard. As of now, Wong's case is still under investigation. For the time being, she aims to share her story and warn as many as possible, she believes it's important to "deter the scammers and warn the community about this type of scam."