San Francisco police have arrested two suspects in connection with an ongoing investigation into a “blessing scam” targeting Chinese-speaking victims.
According to SFPD, 51-year-old Mudi Wu and 45-year-old Fuxi Dai, both of China, were arrested at Los Angeles International Airport on Dec. 24, 2018 as they were trying to board a plane to China.
The suspects were taken back to San Francisco where they were interviewed and booked on grand theft, petty theft, extortion, and elder abuse charges.
Authorities say the crimes involved several suspects who work in concert to steal cash and valuables from the victims.
The suspects claim to provide relief from a curse, an illness, or provide “purification” ceremonies in which cash and valuable items must be offered as part of the process.
The scams were reported in several Bay Area communities, the most reported in San Francisco.
Losses are estimated at over $200,000 police said.
An investigation led to several search warrants in the Los Angeles area, which ultimately resulted in the arrest of 62-year-old Juan Li of Rosemead.
Li was booked into Los Angeles County Jail on grand theft, petty theft, extortion, and elder abuse charges.
A fourth female suspect is believed to have left the country in Dec. 2018 and remains at large.
The investigation is ongoing.
Police are urging those in the Chinese community to be suspicious of such offers from strangers.
Potential victims are strongly advised to contact police if confronted with a similar situation.
Family members and caregivers are also advised to discuss this scam with elder Chinese community members and to instruct them to call police if anyone approaches them under similar circumstances.
Anyone with information is asked to contact the San Francisco Police anonymously at 1-415-575-4444 or text-a-tip to TIP411 and begin the text message with SFPD.
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