San Francisco, CA – San Francisco District Attorney Brooke Jenkins announced today that her office has launched a public awareness campaign in partnership with several local community-based organizations to educate the public about blessing scams that are on the rise again. Blessing scams are essentially bait and switch schemes primarily targeting monolingual Chinese women where perpetrators claim to provide relief from a curse, an illness, or a ghost/spirit. The scammers offer to perform “purification” or “blessing” ceremonies in which cash and valuable items must be “blessed” as part of the process. The victim’s valuables are switched during the blessing ceremony.
“Unscrupulous scammers are back trying to defraud vulnerable victims in our city,” said District Attorney Brooke Jenkins. “My office will do everything we can to educate the public to prevent these incidents from happening, and also work to hold perpetrators accountable and ensure that they face consequences for their crimes.”
Through the public awareness campaign Victim Services Division staff will make presentations to community members at community-based organizations and senior centers throughout the city. The public awareness campaign launched on February 5, 2024, with dozens of participants attending at Self-Help for the Elderly’s South Sunset Senior Center. Additional sessions are already scheduled with other Self-Help for the Elderly locations, as well as On Lok, Chinese Newcomers Service Center, and APA Family Support Services. Sessions are conducted in Cantonese and designed to educate and empower residents. Participants are encouraged to share what they learn with family, friends, and neighbors. The Victim Services Division has bilingual staff and materials available in various languages available to inform, educate, and support community members. To request a presentation please contact the Victim Services Division via email at: firstname.lastname@example.org or via phone at 628.652.4100.
“Our biggest nightmare is the return of the Blessing Scams in San Francisco targeting our seniors,” said Anni Chung, CEO of Self-Help for the Elderly. “Over sixty seniors have fallen prey to these scams in the past, losing their life savings and hard-earned money. We urge DA Jenkins to press charges on everyone who victimizes our seniors. The community presentations that the victim services division is offering to community members provide valuable information and resources to vulnerable residents to help keep them safe. Self-Help for the Elderly will do everything we can to protect our seniors.”
Blessing Scam incidents have been successfully prosecuted by the San Francisco District Attorney’s Office in the past. Any cases presented to the District Attorney’s Office will be carefully evaluated and filed when there is enough evidence to prove beyond a reasonable doubt that suspects identified and arrested are guilty.
According to San Francisco police there have been two recent blessing scam incidents where the suspects were described as one Asian male between the ages of 50 to 60 years and two Asian females ranging in age from early 30s to 60 years old. All of the suspects were described as having black hair and brown eyes and were often wearing masks that covered their mouths.
Anyone who is confronted by scammers or anyone who knows of an elder who was approached by scammers is strongly advised to contact police. Reports can be made at any SFPD District Station or by calling Dispatch at (415) 553-0123 and requesting an officer to take a report.
Cantonese speakers can leave tips on a special tip line by calling (415) 553-9212 or1-855-737-3847.
Information can also be called into the Anonymous Tip Line at (415) 575-4444 or via Text a Tip by texting a message to TIP411 and beginning the message with SFPD.
Some tips for community members:
• Don’t talk to strangers, especially about money or your personal information! You do not need to be polite.
• Recognize conversation starters to gain trust, such as, “What is your last name?” That’s my mother’s maiden name. Perhaps, we are from the same village or area.”
• Don’t believe a stranger who claims or demonstrates clairvoyance.
• Seek immediate advice from your support system such as family and friends, especially if they say, “Tell no one.”
• Be aware that the scam usually employs three or more people.
透過公眾宣傳活動，受害者服務部門的工作人員將向全市社區組織和長者中心的社區成員提供講座。這項公眾宣傳活動於2024年2月5日在安老自助處 (Self-Help for the Elderly) 的South Sunset長者中心啟動，有數十名參與者到場。其他安老自助處中心、安樂中心、新僑服務中心和亞裔家援服務中心 (APA Family Support Services)已經進行了或安排了額外的講座。講座以廣東話進行，旨在教育居民並使居民具有防範意識。鼓勵參與者與家人、朋友和鄰居分享他們學到的東西。受害者服務部門擁有雙語工作人員和多種語言的資料，可以為社區成員提供資訊、教育和支援。如需安排防罪講座，請透過電子郵件聯絡受害者服務部門：email@example.com或致電628.652.4100。
任何遇到詐騙者或認識被詐騙者接近的長者的人士，強烈建議您與警方聯絡。 可以在任何三藩市警察局 (San Francisco Police Department, SFPD) 的分局進行報告，也可以致電非緊急熱線 (415) 553-0123。
講廣東話的人士可以撥打舉報專線 (415) 553-9212或1-855-737-3847進行舉報。
您也可以撥打匿名舉報專線 (415) 575-4444進行舉報，或向TIP411發送簡訊進行舉報，簡訊請以SFPD開頭。