(BCN)Three women have been arrested and charged in connection with a scam targeting older Chinese women in San Francisco and other major cities around the U.S. in the past few months, police and prosecutors announced at a news conference Thursday.
Lirong Lin, 57, Caiqiong Chen, 43, and Huifei Lin, 42, were arrested and charged with multiple counts of grand theft, extortion and elder financial abuse.Lirong and Huifei Lin are also being held on out of state warrants, according to police.
The scams took place all around the city, mostly in March of this year, and targeted mostly older Chinese women who were approached on the street and told they were plagued by evil spirits, police said.
The suspects would convince victims that a “purification” ceremony was needed to get rid of the evil spirits and tell them to bring all of their jewelry and money to be purified.
The suspects would then place the items in a bag and, when the victim was not looking, would take the items out of the bag and tell the victim not to look in the bag for several days or else the purification would not work.
At least 25 victims fell for the scam around the city, losing hundreds of thousands of dollars worth of cash and jewelry, police Chief Greg Suhr said.
The suspects, who also allegedly targeted victims in other major cities such as New York City and Boston, were identified by New York police and were caught on May 10 as they were getting ready to board a plane from San Francisco International Airport to Hong Kong, Suhr said. The women had tens of thousands of dollars in cash and property in their luggage, police said.
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