Authorities are casting a wide net in their hunt for “shameless” foreign con artists who have been targeting older Chinese women in multiple U.S. cities, including San Francisco.
Last week, five suspects in the apparently well-organized foreign ring were detained by police as they were boarding a flight to Hong Kong at San Francisco International Airport. They reportedly had about $50,000 in stolen cash and heaps of loot, including jewelry and cellphones, in their luggage.
Con artists work in teams to trick victims into giving up cash and belongings. In one scam, victims are fooled into spending thousands of dollars on cheap jewelry they are told will bring good fortune. Other victims are convinced they should have their cash and valuables “purified.”
Crime ring members are believed to have run the operation nationwide. Police in Chicago, New York and Boston, along with the FBI and Customs and Borders Protection, have assisted in the investigation.
Three of the five suspects recently arrested at SFO are being charged for crimes committed in San Francisco. Prosecutors say they stole more than $100,000 in cash and jewelry from five victims in The City.