Three women have been arrested this week in San Francisco in a scam that has been targeting older Chinese women in San Francisco and other major cities throughout the country with sizeable Chinese populations such as Boston and New York. However, even though this particular scam targeted elderly Chinese women, the lessons to be learned from this type of affinity scam are for everyone. This particular scam began when the scammers who were also had Chinese heritage approached elderly Chinese women on the streets and told them that they were plagued by evil spirits and that the only way to get rid of the evil spirits was through a purification ceremony. They were also told that they had to bring their cash and jewelry to the ceremony to purify their belongings and protect them from the evil spirits. The victims’ cash and jewelry was then put in a bag and when the victims were not looking the money and jewelry was taken out of the bag. After the ceremony, the victims were told to take the bag home, but not to open the bag for a few days or the purification would not work. By the time the victims learned they had been swindled, the scammers were long gone. fortunately three of the scammers were arrested this week.
We tend to trust people who are like us; people who have the same cultural heritage, race, religion or social group. Unfortunately, “people like us” can be swindlers who take advantage of our trust. This was what happened to many of the Jewish victims of Bernie Madoff who preyed upon many victims using their shared religion as an inducement. Be extra careful when an investment or other offer is made to you by someone who shares an affinity with you. Check them out as you would anyone else before doing any business with them.