SFPD offer advice to Chinese community targeted by 'purification' scam

Members of the Chinese community are being warned to be suspicious of strangers who claim they can relieve a curse or illness through a "purification" ceremony involving cash and valuables, police said Friday.   

A Chinese-language video produced by the police department portrays the victim of a scam being persuaded to put valuables into a bag, which the swindler secretly swaps for an identical bag containing only worthless trash.   

Scammers in two recent cases were described as an Asian man, aged 50 to 60, and two Asian women in their early 30s to 60, police said.   

The suspects often wore masks that covered the lower portion of their faces, police said.   

Anyone approached by scammers, or anyone who knows of an elder in such a situation, is "strongly advised" to contact police, the department said.   

Cantonese speakers can leave tips on a special line, (415) 553-9212 or (855) 737-3847.   

Information can also be sent to an anonymous tip line at (415) 575-4444 or texted to TIP411 and beginning the message with SFPD.