VANCOUVER, British Columbia, June 29 (UPI) -- Police in British Columbia said a trio of scammers tricked a 59-year-old Chinese woman into paying $15,000 for a virtually worthless jade bracelet.
Vancouver police issued a warning Thursday about the scam, which mirrors similar incidents in the United States, and said the Chinese community is especially at risk from the Cantonese-speaking scammers, the Vancouver Sun reported Friday.
Police said a 59-year-old woman was shopping near East Hastings Street June 9 when she was approached by another Chinese woman who said she needed to pawn a pair of jade bracelets. A second suspect soon arrived and talked up the value and mystical healing power of the bracelets and a third woman showed up with her own jade bracelet and refused to sell it to the other two suspects because it contained the spirits of her ancestors and protective powers.
Sgt. Joe Chu said the traditional sense of shame in the Chinese community could be preventing other middle-age and elderly victims from coming forward.
"Saving face is absolutely a factor," Chu said.
He said the victim refused to press charges and police learned of the scam from the woman's family.