NEWS

'Blessing scam' jewellery can be reclaimed by owners

10/02/2013 07:31 EDT | Updated 01/23/2014 06:58 EST
The Vancouver Police Department displayed $120,000 worth of jewellery and valuables that were stolen from elderly Chinese women using the so-called 'blessing scam' today, and are asking victims to come forward and claim their belongings.

According to police, the stolen items include gold jewellery, all 22 to 24 karats, jade jewellery, and even gold bars.

"If you have been scammed and you do have jewellery hidden under your bed, and you have bags you think have been blessed which have not been opened, now is the time to open it and have a look," said Jas Jassal with the VPD financial crimes unit.

"If you're missing jewellery, then contact us."

About 400 items, along with $138,000 in cash, were recovered by the Vancouver police and the Canadian Border Services Agency from five individuals at Vancouver's airport as they tried to fly back to China.

The perpetrators stole the valuables from elderly Chinese women who they convinced to hand over valuables and money in a sealed pillow case or bag to be blessed by a spiritual doctor to ward off bad luck.

The thieves would then swap the valuables for worthless items, and return the bag to the women.

According to police, the five fraudsters, all from China, were arrested and convicted of possession of stolen items, sentenced to one day in prison and then deported.

Police also admitted for the first time publicly that these thefts were only the latest in a series of similar scams dating back a year, and that the scams likely involved international organized criminal syndicates.

"In early 2013, the Vancouver Police Department and Canada Border Service Agency joined forces to try and identify organized crime groups entering into Canada specifically to defraud and extort elderly Chinese women," said Jassal.

Victims have 60 days to reclaim their belongings, after which point they will be auctioned off.

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