Woman arrested for promising to remove evil spirits and bad luck before swiping her victims’ cash (video)By Mason White 11:14 AM December 5, 2014
|Xue Fang Zhou|
By: Wayne Morin
(Scroll down for video) A woman was arrested on charges of grand larceny after promising to remove evil spirits before swiping her victims’ cash and valuables, prosecutors in New York said.
Manhattan District Attorney Cyrus R. Vance, Jr. said that Xue Fang Zhou, 61, was charged for stealing approximately $60,000 in cash and valuables from the victim of her scam, involving a so-called blessing ritual that the defendant claimed to perform in order to dispel supposed bad luck from the victim’s family.
Zhou was charged in New York State Supreme Court with Grand Larceny in the Second Degree.
“Preying on a person’s love for his or her family is a common tactic employed by scam artists,” said District Attorney Vance.
“In this case, the defendant allegedly deceived her victim into believing that a spiritual ritual would get rid of bad luck plaguing the victim’s family and convinced her to entrust the defendant with cash and valuables for the ritual. Versions of this scheme have cropped up across the country, and I encourage all New Yorkers to be vigilant against similar scams,” Vance said.
According to the indictment, two unapprehended individuals approached the 65-year-old victim near 190 Hester Street, striking up a conversation.
After being introduced by the associates, Zhou informed the victim that her son was cursed with bad luck and would be at risk unless Zhou was able to perform a “blessing ritual” over the victim’s money and jewelry.
The defendant instructed the victim to bring money and valuables to an agreed upon meeting location where Zhou performed the so-called blessing ritual.
However, soon after leaving the ritual, the victim discovered that her bag of valuables, which had contained approximately $60,000 in cash and jewelry, had been switched with one containing only water bottles.
Variations of this scam, which is commonly known as the “Evil Spirits” or “Chinese Blessing” scam, have appeared in New York and across the country, and typically involve elderly individuals who are targeted by strangers advertising the ability to banish evil spirits and impart spiritual blessings.
In most cases, perpetrators of the scam will instruct victims to provide a bag of valuables for the ritual and then attempt to distract the victim while the valuables are transferred or hidden inside a different bag.