Beginning in March 2012, a peculiar type of fraud struck San Francisco’s Chinese community. Dubbed “ghost scams” or “blessing scams,” the crimes captured headlines for both their strangeness and heartlessness: Con artists targeted elderly Cantonese women, exploiting their cultural beliefs and duty to protect their children.
But the story begins…
An evil spirit was going to kill Susan Yuan’s youngest son and only she could save him. She walked quickly, terrified by the revelation. This had all happened so fast.
Less than an hour ago, the 51-year-old’s biggest concern on the afternoon of Nov. 10 was shopping for fruit. The market was bustling as Yuan browsed the aisles, passing tents selling strawberries, peaches, bean sprouts, eggplants, red peppers, and loaves of bread.
She was convinced by two strangers, women who spoke her language to go with them to meet a doctor.
The women told Yuan that he had “Yin-Yang eyes,” which gave him the ability to interact with the spiritual realm — the Chinese version of a shaman. He focused his attention on her. Yuan was impressed that he somehow knew how many children she had, and how many people lived in her home.
But then his face turned serious. He sensed that she had recently hit a stretch of bad luck. The cause, he explained, was an evil spirit that had been following her family. The spirit had attached itself to her youngest son and intended to bring him into the afterlife. Yuan’s son, the doctor’s grandson declared, would die in a car accident within three days.
Yuan’s stomach twisted. In one sense, she felt lucky — only a person with Yin-Yang eyes could have made this discovery. But fate had also been harsh. Evil spirits don’t need much of a reason to enter a life. The random ghosts are the most feared. They roam in the world of the living, picking their marks. They can possess anyone, at any time, for any reason. And only certain special rituals, conducted by a shaman, could exorcise the ghost.
Insidious, the ploy exploits trust and belief. Read the whole piece, it’s worth it.
Here are previous stories on this scam.
The more this gets out, the more people may be aware and be more cautious.