The victims are contacted by the first suspect, a Chinese female, who claims to be a psychic and offers to tell the victims their fortune free of charge. After the initial contact is made, two additional suspects approach the victims and say that they had their fortune told by the first suspect and that she is someone to take seriously. In one instance, the “psychic” told a victim that her son would be in a fatal car accident and that to avoid such a tragedy, she should perform a blessing. The primary suspect then asks the victim to gather cash and valuables to be blessed by her. The victims are told that the blessing service is also free and that the victims keep their belongings with them. Once the victims bring their belongings, the “prayer service” is performed and the victim’s property is placed inside a bag. Once the victim is distracted, the suspects switch the items for bottles of water. Victims are told not to handle the bag for a few days, or the blessing will be ruined.
Similar crimes were reported about two years ago not only in the City of Los Angeles but also in Monterey Park, Alhambra, San Gabriel, and Temple city. One suspect was arrested and prosecuted in the Los Angeles area for those crimes and no additional crimes were being reported. Early in October of this year, similar crimes were reported in the San Francisco area. Detectives are advising members in the Chinese communities to raise their level of awareness when they come across individuals who claim to be psychics or religious healers. Do not hand over your cash or valuables to anyone offering to bless them. If anyone is contacted by these individuals they should end the encounter and immediately report it to the police.
All the suspects were described as Chinese females who spoke various Chinese dialects and displayed no remarkable physical features.
Detectives are asking anyone with information on this crime to call Detective Ken Yueng, Asian Crime Unit, at (213) 486-5350. During non-business hours or on weekends, calls should be directed to 1-877-LAPD-24-7 (877-527-3247). Anyone wishing to remain anonymous should call Crime Stoppers at 1-800-222-TIPS (800-222-8477). Tipsters may also contact Crime Stoppers by texting to phone number 274637 (C-R-I-M-E-S on most keypads) with a cell phone. All text messages should begin with the letters “LAPD.” Tipsters may also go to LAPDOnline.org, click on "webtips" and follow the prompts.