Woman Pleads Guilty to All Counts in Chinese Blessing Scam Case
News from the Office of District Attorney George Gascón
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
January 19, 2017
CONTACT: ALEX BASTIAN (415) 553-1931
MAXWELL SZABO (415) 553-9089
WOMAN PLEADS GUILTY TO ALL COUNTS IN CHINESE BLESSING SCAM CASE
SAN FRANCISCO – Today, District Attorney George Gascón announced that Xuefang Zhou, age 62, from China, entered felony guilty pleas in relation to a crime commonly referred to as the Chinese Blessing scam. Zhou defrauded two elderly women of at least $90,000 in cash and jewelry. She is expected to be sentenced to 4 years in custody by Judge Navarro.
“The fact that elderly Chinese women are being targeted in light of their commonly held beliefs pains me greatly.” said District Attorney George Gascón. “My office has worked to reduce these scams by conducting extensive outreach, collaborating with other agencies around the country, and aggressively prosecuting these cases.”
In October 2015, Zhou was arraigned in San Francisco Superior Court on six felony charges including Conspiracy to commit Grand Theft, Extortion, and Financial Elder Abuse. The complaint also alleged grand theft and taking money in excess of $65,000. On January 19, 2017, Zhou pled guilty to all six felony charges relating to a Blessing Scam committed on two victims in San Francisco totaling a loss of more than $90,000. According to court records, on October 2, 2014 and October 5, 2014, Zhou, performed a scam where one suspect would approach an elderly Chinese-speaking woman and begin to converse with her. A second suspect would then approach and insert herself into the conversation and eventually predict that the victim’s child would die soon unless the victim participated in a “blessing” that required her to bring cash and jewelry to be blessed by one of the suspects. Ultimately, the suspects would distract the victim and then switch bags containing the victim’s valuables.
Zhou was also charged and convicted in New York for a similar crime, also occurring in October of 2014, for which she was convicted and sentenced to 1 year. She also has an outstanding felony warrant out of Los Angeles County for a similar offense.
The San Francisco District Attorney’s Office successfully prosecuted the country’s first Blessing Scam case in 2012, when the scam hit epidemic proportions across the nation. This successful prosecution is a result of excellent work by San Francisco Police Department Sergeants Kathy Pubill and Kevin McPherson, as well as District Attorney Inspector Jason Collom and Assistant Investigator Sean Do. Additional thanks goes to the Office of New York District Attorney Cyrus Vance Jr., NYPD, LAPD, the FBI’s New York Field Office and the National Targeting Center. Assistant District Attorney Conrad del Rosario prosecuted the case.