Four accused of scamming Chinese women in San Francisco's Sunset district 

click to enlarge Three of four suspects accused of scamming thousands of dollars from Chinese women in San Francisco for the promise of good luck are pictured here. - MIKE ALDAX/THE S.F. EXAMINER
  • Mike Aldax/The S.F. Examiner
  • Three of four suspects accused of scamming thousands of dollars from Chinese women in San Francisco for the promise of good luck are pictured here.

Karma is a pitch for these scammers.

Police in the Sunset district are warning residents about a prolific gang of heartless crooks who have been duping spiritual Chinese women into spending thousands of dollars on the promise of good luck, police said Tuesday.

Four suspects, three of them middle-aged Asian women, have been connected to at least eight con jobs in the Sunset district in the past half-year. Four occurred this month alone, Taraval Police Station Capt. Curtis Lum said Tuesday.

In one scam, police said, victims are fooled into spending thousands of dollars on a blood-colored jade bracelet that’s actually only worth about $10 -- capitalizing on a Chinese tradition that the charm brings good fortune. In another scam, victims are convinced they should have their cash and valuables “purified,” but instead they just disappear.

In the four March incidents, a combined total of more than $100,000 in cash and loot was taken from four women. The victims range in age from their 40s to 80s, police said.

“In the Chinese culture, there are superstitions,” Lum, who is Chinese, said during a news conference at the Taraval Station on Tuesday. “We believe in ghosts, we believe in ancestors, things like that. The suspects know what the victims are thinking. They prey upon them. They convince them. They befriend them.”

The suspects are believed to be gypsies from out of town moving from one Asian community to another in the hunt for new victims, police Officer Juan Gomez said.

Two of the recent robberies involved the bracelet. In that scam, Lum said, a female suspect carrying the jewelry befriended the victims. A second suspect interrupted to comment on the bracelet, saying her relative owned one and found that it brought health and riches. Then, a third suspect approached with a similar story. Finally, the victim was convinced to purchase the bracelet.

Some folks spent more than $10,000 on the item, Lum said.

In the “purification” scam, the suspects convinced the victims to join them in a visit to an herbal doctor. On the way, the victims were convinced that they stepped on a spot where someone had been killed and thus were cursed. To break the curse, they were told to fetch their valuables to be purified.

The victims would return with a bag filled with cash and jewelry. After the purification, they were told not to peek into the bag until later. When they finally looked, their bag was filled with nothing but newspapers, police said.

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