Four Charged in Alleged S.F. Farmer's Market Jewelry Scam

By: Brian Shields - Fri, 16 Nov 2012 00:10:28 -0800

Photo from S.F.P.D Crime Reenactment
SAN FRANCISCO (BCN) -- Three women and a man were arraigned in San Francisco Superior  Court Thursday in connection with a scam in which they tried to dupe people into  giving them jewelry and cash at a farmer's market last weekend, District  Attorney George Gascon said.

      Ying Liu Tam, 38, Ah Chung Liu, 48, Mudi Wu, 44, and Yong Hua  Zeng, 53, were arrested Saturday after allegedly trying to scam two women at  the Alemany Farmers' Market at 100 Alemany Blvd.

      Three of the suspects approached a woman and told her she was  plagued by evil spirits and that a purification ceremony was needed on her  jewelry and money to get rid of the spirits, police Inspector Marty Dito  said.

      However, the woman had remembered media reports earlier this year  in which three people were arrested for a similar scam, so she decided to go  to the Ingleside Police Station rather than her home and came back with  police officers, Gascon said.

      The suspects tried to flee in a taxi once police arrived but were  arrested.

      Investigators quickly learned that a second victim had already  given the suspects more than $10,000 in jewelry and cash and that property  was recovered, Dito said.

      All four pleaded not guilty to various charges for  the incident.

      Tam and Liu were charged with felony grand theft, extortion,  attempted extortion and attempted grand theft. They are being held on  $200,000 bail each, prosecutors said.

      Wu and Zeng are each being held on $100,000. Wu's charges are  attempted extortion and attempted grand theft while Zeng's are extortion and  grand theft.

      All four will return to court on Friday to set a preliminary  hearing date.

      Dito said police are still investigating whether the suspects had  targeted other victims in the city recently or whether they are connected to  the trio arrested back in May in the similar scheme that victimized at least  25 people.

      Gascon said the arrests show "a need for the community to remain  vigilant," noting that the other woman "could have lost a significant amount  of money" if the first victim had not reported the case to police.

       (Copyright 2012, Bay City News, All rights reserved.)
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