Four people accused of stealing $470,000 in cash and jewelry from victims while supposedly lifting "generational curses" have been arrested.
On Monday, August 8th, Yuqun Liang, 57; Yacheng Chen, 50; Yan Chen, 46; and Xuekun Su, 44, were arrested, the NYPD stated. According to the Daily News, a detective who was on his way to work recognized one of the suspects, and police arrested her, along with three of her alleged confederates. Reportedly, the suspects were talking to an elderly woman on Market Slip and the detective stopped a scam in progress.
The four women, as well as a fifth suspect, allegedly ran the so-called "Chinese blessing scam" targeting Asian women in Manhattan, Queens and Brooklyn from April until recently.
A complaint from the Manhattan DA's office alleged that on April 18th, Yan Chen and Su approached a 55-year-old woman on Grand Street, and told her that unless they blessed her valuables, a generational curse would physically harm her family.
The woman went to her safety deposit box, took out $280,000 in cash, and brought it in a bag to the Chen and Su, according to the complaint. While the victim recited prayers away from Chen and Su, they allegedly swapped the money for newspapers and bottles of water.
They then told the victim not to look into her bag until a few days later or else the blessing ceremony would not work, per the complaint.
Using the same M.O., Yacheng Chen and Su allegedly stole $130,000 from a 61-year-old woman in front of 73 Bay 22 Street in Brooklyn on April 17, and $19,000 in cash and $3,000 worth of jewelry from a woman in Brooklyn around June 22nd.
On Tuesday, Yan Chen and Su were arraigned in Manhattan criminal court with bail set at $500,000, according to the Manhattan District Attorney’s office. Both were charged with grand larceny in the second degree, and scheme to defraud in the first degree.
The Brooklyn DA's office says it will be arraigning Liang and Yacheng Chen in Brooklyn. The NYPD also announced yesterday Yacheng Chen was "additionally arrested and charged" with grand larceny (extortion) and criminal possession of stolen property.
Police would not say how many more suspects they are looking for in connection to the scam, but encouraged victims to come forward to the NYPD.
Often, the victims of the scam do not speak English.