Another group of fraud artists committing blessing scams appear to be targeting elderly Asian women in Vancouver.

At about 11:00 a.m. on October 7th, a 77-year-old woman was approached by someone near the T & T Market on Keefer Street. The woman engaged the victim in conversation about finding a doctor. As the two spoke, they were joined by a second, and then a third, woman. The three managed to convince her that a family member had a ghost attached to them and that they would die if she did not go through a cleansing or blessing ceremony.

The elderly woman was asked to gather cash and valuables and return to be blessed. She went home and to her bank, obtained several thousand dollars in cash and several items of jewellery, and met again with the three suspects.

The “ceremony” requires the victim to place all their money and jewellery in a bag to be blessed. When the bag is given back to the victim, they are instructed not to open it for several days and not to tell family members. When the bag is finally opened, it is empty and the suspects are long gone.

The next day, the elderly woman realized her jewellery was gone, and that she had been defrauded.

No arrests have been made, and police are urging people to speak to their elderly friends and family about this crime. Police are hoping to not only identify the three suspects who are described as Asian women in their 40s, but to prevent further victims.

In August, the VPD arrested three women committing a similar offences, and comparable scams reported in Vancouver in 2013 led to a number of warnings from police and the arrest of several people.

Anyone who believes they have been the victim of this crime, or who knows of a family member who may have been a victim, is asked to contact the Vancouver Police Financial Crime Unit.

The Vancouver Police Department would like to remind the public to:

  • avoid speaking with strangers making offers of good fortune
  • never provide money or valuables to be “blessed”
  • call 9-1-1 if approached by strangers making any unusual offers