Third suspect arrested in ‘blessing scam’ targeting elderly Chinese women

A third suspect involved in a “blessing” scam that targeted elderly Chinese women in San Francisco and San Mateo counties was arrested last week in Southern California, according to San Francisco police.

Juan Li, 62, of Rosemead, was apprehended by officers from San Francisco and Los Angeles on March 28 and booked into the Century Regional Detention Facility in Lynwood on suspicion of grand theft, petty theft, extortion and elder abuse.

Li, who is being held on an initial $250,000 bond, is expected to be transferred to San Francisco in the near future to face prosecution, according to San Francisco police.

She is suspected of working with three other women to run a scam targeting ethnically Chinese women who speak little or no English.

“The suspects claim to provide relief from a curse, an illness or provide ‘purification’ ceremonies in which cash and valuable items must be offered as part of the process,” police officials said in a news release. “These scams have been reported in communities around the Bay Area, with losses estimated at over $200,000, most of which was taken in crimes occurring in San Francisco.”

Two of the suspects, Mudi Wu and Fuxi Dia, both of China and both listed as 51 years old in jail records, were arrested at the Los Angeles International Airport on Christmas Eve as they were allegedly attempting to flee to Hong Kong, according to police.

Both women remain in San Francisco County Jail on bonds of $1.25 million and face multiple charges, including grand theft, extortion and elder abuse.

They pleaded not guilty to the charges in January.

Investigators believe a fourth suspect, whose name has not been released, fled the country last December, police said.

Blessing scams are an ongoing issue for San Francisco’s Chinese community and police ask anyone who suspects they might have been victimized by such a crime to call the department’s hotline at (415) 533-9212.

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