Three Cantonese-speaking women approached an elderly woman in the International District and told her that her family was in danger of experiencing misfortune. The woman was conned into withdrawing $50,000 from the bank and providing $20,000 in jewelry in a backpack to be “blessed,” so her family would not be harmed. The women returned the backpack and instructed the victim not to open the backpack or tell anyone about the blessing for a week. The victim opened her backpack and found that the jewelry and money had been replaced with flour, tapioca, and water bottles. Similar scams have been perpetrated in the Chinatowns of other cities, like Boston, New York City, and San Francisco. Two arrests were made in relation to the scam, but it is believed that the network involved in the scam is much larger. These scam artists have typically targeted older Chinese women. (end)
Victims and family members of victims can contact Alan Lai, crime victims project director of the Chinese Information and Service Center at (206) 624 5633 extension 411, or stop by the office in person during business hours.