Three women are in custody in connection with a scam that swindled thousands of dollars from the Chinese population by selling jewelry they claimed would keep those who wore it safe.
The women were detained Thursday at San Francisco International Airport as they were trying to leave the country, according to police. They reportedly had $100,000 in their possession.
San Francisco police knew of at least eight con jobs in the past six months on victims in the Sunset district. Another six people were bilked in South of Market.
In March, the Taraval Police Station captain publicly warned the community of the scams. Victims typically ranged from their mid-40s to mid-80s.
In many cases, the suspects would capitalize on the Chinese tradition that charms bring good fortune by fooling victims into spending thousands of dollars on blood-colored jade bracelets, which actually cost $10.
In this scam attempt, police said, the female suspects wearing the bracelets would befriend the victim. A second suspect would interrupt and comment on the bracelet, saying a relative owned one and it had brought her health and riches, ultimately convincing the victim to buy one. Some bracelets were purchased for as much as $10,000.
Another way victims were swindled was by convincing them to join the suspects and visit an herbal doctor. Along the way, the victims were convinced they had stepped on a spot where someone had been killed and as a result was cursed. To break the curse, the victims were told to fetch their cash and valuables in order to be “purified.”
Instead of receiving their items back, the suspects disappeared.
Details of the women in custody were not immediately released, but police said they matched pictures of the suspects and they are being investigated in connection with the scam.