The San Jose Mercury News reports that con artists have been regularly approaching older Asians with news that their families are in danger or under a curse. They ask for money to “bless” the family — in some cases as much as $20,000. The cons are often successful. “They’re clearly preying on the immigrant community who has stronger religious beliefs and customs. It’s been a very profitable scam,” the Mercury News quotes San Francisco District Attorney George Gascon.
San Francisco Police Chief Greg Suhr has flatly called the scams “an organized crime ring” with likely international ties, prompting his city—whose Asian community is about a third of its overall population—to find ways to combat it.