Scammers pretending to be spiritual healers have conned vulnerable people out of millions in New York.
The scam typically involves members of the public being approached by individuals claiming to be spiritualists or fortune tellers. Details vary, but most frequently the victim is told that a loved one is possessed by an evil spirit or is going to die. To safeguard them, the con-artist requests valuables such as jewelry or money which they then 'bless' and return to the victim in an envelope with instructions not to open it for a set time period. When the victim does finally open the envelope the valuables are missing - replaced instead with rocks or some other valueless object.
"They know the culture, they know how to talk to these victims to get them to listen," said New York police spokesman Paul Browne. "One person's spirituality is another's superstition, and they prey on that distinction."
"Detectives say there has been a rash in New York of what's known as an evil spirit or blessing scam, where older immigrant women, mostly Chinese, are swindled out of their valuables by clever scammers arriving from China who prey on superstition and fear."
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Source: Huffington Post
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