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Con Artists Tormenting Chinese Immigrants In Brooklyn With Cash-Or-Curse Scam

NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) -- Con artists are targeting the elderly in a frightening way in Brooklyn.

As CBS 2's John Slattery reported Tuesday, they ask for cash, and if they don't get it, they terrorize their victims by threatening an evil curse.

As Chinese immigrants expand their growth in the city, con artists are targeting their older population, like those in Sheepshead Bay. Slattery spoke to one woman who knows one of the victims, and explained that the motive is said to be simple.

"Easy money," she said.

It's an old scam, warding off evil with a so-called "blessing."

You might call it: pay up or be cursed.

"It is a curse. They try to scare some family member got sick … get spell ... a curse from the evil," said community activist Sammy Tsang.

Tsang said if money or jewelry is not paid, the target is warned a family member will suffer.

"They believe it, usually. They are very superstitious," Tsang said.

Tsang said it happened at an Avenue U coffee shop, where he said a group of three con artists told a woman that evil would befall her unless she paid up. They then tailed 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.

The scam has spread from China to San Francisco, to Boston and New York, and could move farther, police said.

The cash-or-curse con is said to be targeting victims also in Bay Ridge, Bensonhurst and Sunset Park.

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