"Blessing scam" dupes Vancouver senior out of thousands of dollars

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An elderly Vancouver woman was scammed out of thousands of dollars in cash and jewellery after three people duped her into believing her valuables needed to be “blessed.”

The Vancouver Police Department says a 77-year-old woman of Asian descent was approached by a younger woman outside of T&T Supermarket’s Keefer Street location on October 7. They had a conversation about finding a doctor when two more women joined the conversation.

The three younger women – described as being of Asian descent and in their 40s by the VPD – convinced her that a family member had a ghost attached to them and they would die if they didn’t bless her valuables. She went to her bank and withdrew thousands of dollars, then to her home to get jewellery, and met back up with the alleged scammers.

The elderly woman was asked to place the valuables in a bag to be blessed. The three women handed back the bag to her and instructed her not to open it for several days.

The next day, the woman realized both the jewellery and the money weren’t in the bag. No arrests have been made, and the police are looking for the suspects.

The Vancouver Police Department say people should talk to their elderly relatives about the possibility of blessing scams.

This isn’t the first time police have been informed of blessing scams. In August of this year, three women were arrested for committing the same type of scam, and several arrests were made in 2013 as well.

The VPD says not to forget the following things:

  • 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

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Lauren Sundstrom Lauren is a Staff Writer and Projects Assistant at Vancity Buzz. She is a graduate of BCIT's Broadcast and Online Journalism program. She loves reporting on breaking news and lifestyle content. If you feel like you have a story that needs to be told, fire her a tweet.
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