On a street corner in Flushing, Queens, on Wednesday afternoon, Ping Fan, 56, clutched a new tote bag with an unusual provenance: it was a gift from police officers who handed it to her as she strolled down Kissena Boulevard.
The bag, Ms. Fan learned, was intended to be armor of sorts.
Over the last year, New York’s Chinatowns, in Flushing and in Manhattan, have been plagued by an unusual crime known as the “blessing scam” that plays on the traditional spiritual beliefs of Chinese immigrants.
The women are played for a bait and switch that capitalizes on the trust of their fellow Asians and ingrained cultural superstitions. Some people are so embarrassed by the victimization that they do not tell police and the perpetrators steal again. The police in New York (as well as in other metropolitan areas where this scam is occurring) are trying several ways to warn woman not to fall for the scam as sort of an innoculation – making them aware of what to look for and to encourage them to report it. The bags say:
Beware of street scams!
Please call 911 if you are a victim or witness of a scam.”
Here is more on these scams from around the world. Get the word out. It works.