You or a family member will die soon because of a curse. But no worries, I have supernatural powers. Just show up with all your money in one bag and all your jewelry in another, and I’ll bless it for you, lifting the curse.
How can you refuse, right?
Such offers, made by Chinese immigrants purporting to help other Chinese immigrants, result in heartbreak for the marks. The criminals switch the bags full of lucre for ones containing nothing of value, with the victims usually not noticing until it’s too late.
According to the New York Times,
Chinese immigrant associations in New York are aware of the blessing scheme, and over the last two years have conducted education workshops with older people, providing tip sheets. …
“It’s very dangerous,” said Tim Law, 69, the chief executive adviser for the Chinese-American Social Services Center in Gravesend, Brooklyn. “The people who scam people are very smart. They pick up their targets in the supermarket, or the doctor’s office or at the bakery, listening in on their conversations.”
One victim had been approached by a woman who told her that her grandchildren were possessed by an evil spirit. The scammer added that to drive out the demon, “you have to go home, get your money and jewelry.” Many Chinese immigrants don’t trust banks and keep large sums of savings hidden in their homes. When she did as the scammer instructed, the mark lost it all — some $45,000.
Older immigrants tend to be targets for reasons that go beyond their age or their isolation, prosecutors and social scientists say. Blessings, superstitions and notions of karma are embedded in Chinese culture, extending from rituals in Buddhist temples to local fortune tellers.
U.S. police do crack down on the long-running scam, but…
“As long as there’s money to be made, it will continue,” said Kin Ng, an assistant district attorney in Brooklyn and the chief of the Immigrant Fraud Unit. “These types of crimes are just too lucrative.”
And the supply of suckers, never-ending.
(Image via the redkid.net fortune cookie generator)