Rhea Mahbubani

Blessing Scammers Convince San Francisco Woman She Has Cancer, Dupe Her Out of $5,000

A San Francisco woman was recently duped out of $5,000 by a trio that allegedly convinced her that she was suffering from cancer and that the money was to pay for a cure, according to police.

Police on Monday issued a warning, specifically for the Chinese community that the victim belongs to, informing them of the July 11 crime also known as a blessing scam.

“The San Francisco Police Department urges older members of the Chinese community to be suspicious of strangers claiming to provide relief from a curse, an illness, or who provide ‘purification’ ceremonies in which cash and valuable items must be offered as part of the process,” they wrote in a statement.

Last Tuesday, the victim was in the Sunset district when the first suspect – a woman – approached her and asked for directions to a healing salon, police said. The second suspect – a man – walked by just then, police said, and offered to use his phone to help find the salon. He then convinced the victim to walk to a car that was nearby, where the third suspect – another man – was waiting.

Once there, the suspects allegedly led the woman to believe that she had cancer and urged her to give them $5,000 to fund a cure. The trio promised to give some of the money back to her later in the day, but they didn’t, according to police.

Police have asked residents to call 911 if they are ever faced with such a situation. Children and caregivers of elderly residents should also explain the scam to them, police added, because it is that demographic that is typically targeted by so-called blessing scammers.

Additional details about the victim and suspects were not immediately available.

People with information about any such cases are asked to call the San Francisco Police Department’s anonymous tip line at 415-575-4444 or text a tip to Tip411 with the keyword “SFPD.”

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