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Chinese senior citizens being scammed

Vancouver Police are issuing a warning to the public about a scam targeting Chinese senior citizens.

Since June of 2012, there have been seven reports of a serial fraud in which elderly Chinese women have been targeted and defrauded of their cash and valuables, in a scam that takes advantage of the cultural and superstitious beliefs.

The victims have been approached on the street by a group of three to four Asian women who speak Cantonese. In some instances, an Asian man has also been involved. The suspects advised the victims they were being followed by a ghost or evil spirit that would bring their family bad luck and that one of their children would die.

They convinced the victims that for $20,000 in cash and jewellery, they will sell the victim a “lucky jade bracelet” or a bottle containing “blessed mystical water” which will remove the bad luck and restore the victim’s family’s good fortune.

The elderly women subsequently paid with cash and jewellery in exchange for a worthless jade bracelet or vial of water. The suspects then performed a short prayer ritual in which the water bottle, money and jewellery were put in a bag and “blessed.” During this prayer ceremony, the suspects stole the cash and jewellery from the bag, and replaced it with other worthless items. The victims were advised not to check the bag for a period of time or the blessing would not work. They were also advised not to tell their family about the incident.

Anyone with information about these cases is asked to contact the Vancouver Police Financial Crimes Unit at 604-717-2570 or Crime Stoppers 1- 800-222-8477.

The Chinese Community Policing Centre at 118 Keefer Street provides Cantonese and Mandarin speaking staff that can assist with non-emergency crime reporting. Their telephone number is (604) 688-5030.

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