NEW YORK CITY — The NYPD arrested five people last week after a tipster alerted police to an attempted scam in which suspects steal valuables from elderly people in Chinatown, cops said.
The "Spiritual Blessings Con Game" has been on the rise since March of last year, police said, with con women targeting more than 60 elderly people in New York City's Chinese neighborhoods, convincing them they have been possessed by evil spirits and swindling more than $1.8 million from them, the NYPD said.
But last week, a woman who had read about the scam in an NYPD crime prevention notice published in a community newspaper quickly realized what was happening and went to the police, the NYPD said. Cops in the 5th Precinct made five arrests based on her tip, police said.
In the scam, once the con women convinced the victims that bad luck will strike them and their families, they urged the victims to bring all their valuables to a meeting place, where they will be placed in a "good luck" bag for three days, police said.
At the end of the three days, victims open the bag to find their valuables replaced with worthless items, the NYPD said.
In addition to $1.8 million being stolen, victims also lost more than half a million dollars in jewelry, the NYPD's Community Affairs Bureau said.