08/08/2013 04:14 EDT | Updated 10/08/2013 05:12 EDT

Vancouver Chinese Seniors 'Blessing' Scam Suspects Identified

VANCOUVER - Vancouver police say they have now identified several suspects and persons of interest in a scam that targets Chinese seniors whose cultural and superstitious beliefs are being used against them.

Police say they began an investigation into the so-called blessing scam in June 2012, and that they reached out to other police agencies, including the Canada Border Services Agency, the U.S. Secret Service, and police departments in San Francisco and New York, to try and identify suspects.

According to a YouTube video put together by the VPD and the Chinese Community Policing Centre, the scam involves a group of Chinese-speaking people who convince seniors to place money and jewelry in a bag, telling them the bag must be blessed to ward off bad luck.

Once the suspects receive the bag of valuables, they swap it with an identical one filled with worthless goods, telling the owner not to open it until a later date.

Vancouver police say they have received 13 reports to date, and are appealing for more victims to come forward.

They encourage the public to speak to elderly family members who may be reluctant to go to the police because of language barriers or fear of embarrassment.

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