NEW YORK Con artists are targeting elderly Chinese people, threatening them with a curse if they don't pay up.
CBS New York reports the con has moved from China to San Francisco, Boston and New York.
Those running the "cash-or-curse con" are currently said to be trawling for victims in Sheepshead Bay, Bay Ridge, Bensonhurst and Sunset Park.
The scammers approach elderly people, ask for cash, and if they don't get it, they terrorize their victims by threatening an evil curse.
Community activist Sammy Tsang said if money or jewelry is not paid, the target is warned a family member will suffer.
"It is a curse. They try to scare some family member got sick ... get spell ... a curse from the evil," said Tsang.
"They believe it, usually. They are very superstitious."
Tsang said a group of three con artists recently went to an Avenue U coffee shop, where they told a woman that evil would befall her unless she paid up.
Then they followed her for blocks. The targets are usually elderly women who are alone.
One pharmacy owner has a customer whom he said fell under their spell.
"Like some kind of spell and then took them to bank and withdrew money; all their savings," Johnny Wong said.