Vancouver Police are issuing a warning to the public, particularly the Chinese community, about a scam targeting Chinese senior citizens. The VPD warned of a similar scam back in 2008 and it has now resurfaced in Vancouver with at least one person being victimized.
In this latest complex and well choreographed scam, a 60 year old Chinese woman had just finished shopping in Chinatown on June 9th and was walking back to a bus stop on E. Hastings Street when she was approached by another Chinese woman that she did not know.
The stranger struck up a conversation and asked her for directions to a jewellery store. The stranger then took out two jade bracelets from her purse and said she wanted to pawn them. A second Chinese woman appeared and asked the victim if she knew the woman with the jewellery, telling her that she had seen the bracelets and they were very rare and very hard to find.
When the woman with the jewellery walked away, the second suspect continued talking to the victim, telling her that bracelets like those had cured her Aunt’s paralysis and suggested they go find the woman to buy the bracelets.
As they began to look for the woman with the bracelets, a third Chinese woman approached them and the second suspect pointed out to the victim that she was wearing a bracelet similar to the ones that the first suspect was trying to pawn.
When asked why she was wearing the same type of bracelet that another woman was trying to sell, this woman immediately replied that she was not going to sell the bracelet and that it was made of very rare “blood” jade. She explained that the previous owner of her bracelet had died while wearing it and her spirit was absorbed into it, giving it special powers.
Furthermore, she explained that bad luck, such as a loved one dying, would befall anyone refusing to buy a “blood jade” bracelet and that the victim had to buy the bracelet if she had the chance.
At this point, the victim looked across the street and saw suspects one and two waving at her to join them. After walking over to them, the three suspects began arguing about who had the first opportunity to buy the bracelet.
It was decided the victim would be given the first opportunity and if she didn’t buy it bad luck would befall her. Perhaps knowing that the victim had previously withdrawn $500.00, the woman with the bracelets accepted that but said that the total cost for the bracelet would be $16,000.
The three suspects convinced the victim to go to her bank to withdraw the remainder of the money and even accompanied the victim to her home branch. The total cash amount given to the suspects was $15,000. The suspects gave the victim one of the bracelets and told her not to tell her family and walked away together.
The three suspects are all described as Cantonese-speaking Chinese women between 40 and 60 years old, 5’1” to 5’4” tall. The first suspect with the jewellery was wearing a gray fisherman-style hat and carrying a gray purse slung over her shoulder.
Vancouver Police are warning the public, especially the Chinese community, about this scam and are asking anyone who may have been a victim of this scam or who may have information about this specific incident to contact 9-1-1 or Crime Stoppers at 1 (800) 222-8477 or the Chinese Community Policing Centre at (604)688-5030.