A 44-year-old Chinese woman, Xuekun Su, was indicted on charges of grand larceny as a hate crime in Brooklyn on Thursday, accused of stealing approximately $160,000 in cash and jewelry in two separate incidents after convincing two other Chinese women that their families had been cursed.
“This is the second blessing scam we’ve indicted in as many months, in which brazen con men and women walk off with the life savings of their victims,” Acting District Attorney Eric Gonzalez said in a statement. “I urge those in the Chinese community to warn their vulnerable family members to be aware of these scams to avoid falling prey to them.”
Police announced in July that they were searching for a group of female grifters who they said were perpetrating what had come to be known as the “Chinese blessing scam,” a growing problem in Brooklyn’s Asian enclaves. “These people go into coffee shops and listen to people’s business and see what problems you have,” Sam Tsang, an NYPD Asian liaison for the 61st Precinct, told the New York Daily News in 2013. “Then they ask for cash to help the family members. They say they have special powers.” If the victims—usually older, non-English speaking women, dismiss them, Tsang said, “They say you or your family member will get ill.”
On Thursday, Su was arraigned on an eight-count indictment. According to Gonzalez, on April 27, Su and a number of un-apprehended other individuals presented themselves as “clairvoyants” to a 61-year-old Chinese immigrant, telling her that a fatal curse had been put on her family. From a Kings County DA press release:
They allegedly convinced her that in order to rid herself of the curse she needed to gather large sums of cash and jewels to be blessed in order to remove the evil spirits surrounding her family. After the blessing, the victim was promised that the money and jewelry would be returned. The victim gathered approximately $140,000 cash and numerous pieces of 24-karat gold jewelry.
The victim then met with the defendant and others who, according to the investigation, instructed the victim to place the cash and jewels into a bag so that a “blessing” could be performed over them to remove the curse. The victim was told not to open the bag for many days in order to break the curse. She opened the bag that evening and found that all of her cash and jewelry was gone. She then contacted the police.
Su and the other individuals perpetrated the same scheme again in June, allegedly stealing approximately $19,000 in cash and gold jewelry from a 54-year-old Chinese immigrant. Su faces up to 25 years in prison if convicted on the top count of second-degree grand larceny as a hate crime.