MANHATTAN — Police have arrested four suspects in connection with a curse-lifting scam that spanned three boroughs and netted nearly a half-million dollars in stolen property.
Three women — Yuqun Liang, 57, Yan Chen, 46, and Xuekun Su, 44 — and one man, Yacheng Chen, 50, were arrested Aug. 8 in connection to a spate of scams in which the suspects told victims they needed bags of money and jewelry to lift curses on the victims’ families, police said.
As part of the scam, five women operating in groups of three approached middle-aged women claiming their families had been cursed, and that they must bring the suspects all of their jewelry and money in a bag so that a blessing ritual could be performed to lift the curse, authorities said.
The suspects would then return the bags to the victims filled with water bottles instead of the pricey belongings, police said.
The women scammed five victims across three boroughs — on the Lower East Side, Sunset Park, Bath Beach and Flushing.
Police were unable to give information on the male defendant's involvement in the scams.
On the morning of Aug. 8, an off-duty officer recognized one of the suspects near the corner of Market Slip and Cherry Street and notified other police, the NYPD said.
When officers responded, they found the suspects trying to scam another elderly woman, police said.
The defendants were arrested at about 10:45 a.m. and charged with grand larceny in the second degree and scheme to defraud in the first degree, police said.
The male defendant, Yacheng Chen, was additionally charged with grand larceny by extortion and possession of stolen property on Aug. 10, according ot authorities.
Information on lawyers representing the defendants was not immediately available.
The investigation remains ongoing, police said.