Four Additional Defendants Charged in Jewelry Scam Targeting Chinese Community

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
November 15, 2012

CONTACT: Stephanie Ong Stillman, DA Gascón’s Office, (415) 553-1167
ADA Alex Bastian, DA Gascón’s Office, (415) 553-1931

SAN FRANCISCO, CA – District Attorney George Gascón announced the latest developments in a jewelry scam targeting women and elderly victims in the Chinese community.

"The SFPD did a great job quickly reacting to this crime, but even greater, is the fact that our Public Awareness Campaign is working. Thanks to the media, potential victims are becoming aware of the scam and extra vigilant," said District Attorney George Gascón.

Four new defendants were charged and arraigned today in their involvement in a new jewelry scam involving two victims. Ying Liu Tam, age 38, and Ah Chung Liu, age 48, are charged with four felony counts including grand theft, extortion, attempted extortion and attempted grand theft. Mudi Wu, age 44, is being charged with 2 felony counts of attempted extortion and attempted grand theft. Yong Hua Zeng, (male) age 53, is being charged with 2 felony counts of extortion and grand theft. The scam involves the same characteristics of the last jewelry scam from earlier this year.

On November 10, 2012, the scam was in full effect, targeting elderly Chinese women at the Alemany Farmer’s Market. The first victim was approached by three of the defendants. The victim was told that she was plagued by evil spirits and that her family member was in danger. She was told that she could save her family member but she had to get her money and valuables and bring those things back for a blessing. Frightened by the thought of evil spirits, Victim 1 headed home to get her valuables. However, on the way home she recalled having just heard a warning on the news about this scam. Therefore, instead of going home, the victim went to Ingleside Police Station and reported the incident. The SFPD responded to the market area and the victim identified the culprits. Police noted a male suspect, Defendant Zeng, with another woman later identified as Victim #2. Upon seeing police, all four suspects began running toward a cab and jumped in. Police stopped the cab and found property and money belonging to Victim 2, who had just suffered a similar scam and had delivered her money to the suspects.

The defendants were arraigned today in Dept. 12. Each defendant entered a plea of not guilty. Bail was set at 200k for Ying Liu and Ah Chung Liu, and 100k for Mudi Wu and Yong Hua Zeng. The defendants are due back in court tomorrow morning in Dept. 20 to set a preliminary hearing date.
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