Law Enforcement Warns of Increased Scams over Chinese New Year
San Francisco police are warning the Asian community about scam artists who prey on elderly Chinese women. Police saw a spike in these crimes during last year's Chinese New Year celebrations and suspect it may happen again as the Year of the Snake approaches.
Deputy Police Chief Michael Biel says seniors will be trained to spot the scams and given a blue canvas shopping bag printed with warnings, as a deterrent.
"And this bag will signify to everyone and anyone that they know about the scam," Biel said, "that they have received the training and that hopefully they understand that they will not be taken advantage of."
The scams often involve a small group of Asian women who befriend an elderly Chinese woman and persuade her to let them bless her valuables to keep away evil spirits.
San Francisco District Attorney George Gascon says many cities are being hit.
"Here in San Francisco, we believe that right around a million dollars have been taken from victims," Gascon said. "We know that the scams are going on in LA County. We also know that scams are going on in Chicago, New York and Boston, so this is a pretty large situation."
In LA County victims may have lost as much as a half million dollars last year.
It's believed many of the scammers are coming from mainland China.