(This is an excerpt of a press release from SF District Attorney Office)
Three defendants have been charged in their involvement in the scam. Huifei Lin, age 42, has been charged with a total of 14 felonies. She has been charged with 4 felony counts of grand theft, 5 felony counts of extortion, 3 felony counts of defrauding an elder, 1 felony count of robbery and 1 felony count of causing injury to an elder. Caiqiong Chen, age 43, and Lirong Lin, age 57, have each been charged with 7 felonies. They are each charged with 3 felony counts of grand theft, 3 felony counts of extortion, and 1 felony count of defrauding an elder. The scams took place earlier this year and targeted elderly Chinese women. Victims were approached on the street and were told they were plagued by evil spirits and that their families were in danger. Defendants allegedly would befriend victims and convince them a “purification” ceremony was needed to lift the evil spirits. Victims were instructed to bring all their jewelry and money in a bag to a specified meeting location. During the “purification” ceremony, Defendants would replace the items in the bag when the victim wasn’t looking. Defendants were arraigned on May 15, 2012 in Department 11. Bail was set at $740,000 for Defendant Huifei Lin, and $495,000 apiece for Defendants Caigiong Chen and Lirong Lin.