Victims of a citywide scam targeting elderly Chinese women have given $1.3 million to con artists within the last year, police said.
According to the 109th Precinct, a hoax stemming from China continues to plague seniors in downtown Flushing.
Victims have lost about $500,000 in the Queens precinct alone out of about 50 cases citywide, officials said.
“This is having a devastating impact upon families,” said Inspector Brian Maguire, commanding officer of the 109th Precinct. “It’s not just one or two people doing this. We believe there’s a bunch of different crews moving throughout the city.”
Perpetrators are typically Chinese women between 30 and 40 years old, police said. They work in groups of three, convincing older, unsuspecting women on the street they are followed by evil spirits and bad luck.
The con artists then sway victims into putting thousands of dollars in valuables and cash into a “good luck” bag before swapping the bag with a fake and stealing the goods, police said.
“It’s an old trick that people still fall for,” said Captain Tommy Ng, the precinct’s executive officer.
The precinct arrested three females last October in connection with the scheme, Maguire said. Two of the women, all Chinese nationals, have since fled the country after posting bail.
Officers are urging families to spread the word to older relatives and friends.
If approached, cops said victims should agree with the tricksters on a meeting spot and then go home alone and call 9-1-1.
“It behooves the children to tell their parents,” Maguire said. “Do not fall for these promises. Do not talk to strangers. Don’t believe in these false spells.”