Two Chinese women arrested at Los Angeles International Airport as they attempted to flee the country have been charged in connection with “blessing scams” targeting older members of the Chinese community in San Francisco, according to police.
Between Nov. 29, 2018 and Dec. 14, police said they received four reports of blessing scams that defrauded the victims of more than $180,000 dollars in cash and jewelry.
Blessing scams are a recurring problem in the Chinese community in San Francisco and elsewhere in the country. They typically involve strangers approaching elderly Chinese people claiming that they can lift a curse or cure an illness. The scammers ask the victims to provide cash and valuable items as part of the purification ritual and then disappear with them.
Investigators identified Mudi Wu, 51, and Fuxi Dai, 45, as suspects in the scams and were able to intercept them at the airport as they tried to fly back to China with the help of federal and Los Angeles law enforcement.
The pair has since been brought back to San Francisco and charged with multiple counts of felony grand theft, petty theft, extortion and elder abuse. Warrants for their arrest on similar charges were also issued out of San Mateo County on Friday.
Wu and Dai are due back in court in San Francisco on Jan. 7, and remain in custody, according to jail records.