Hypnotic scammers targeting elderly Chinatown residents score big

Boston Police report scammers made off with $160,000 last month from an elderly resident who thinks they hypnotized her first.

According to police, the woman was walking down the street on April 16 when approached by three women:

One of the suspects tapped the victim on the shoulder. The victim stated the suspect spoke to her in Cantonese for about five minutes and asked random questions about the victim’s family members.

The victim stated to officers she believes during the conversation she was hypnotized. The victim stated that she did not speak to the other two suspects. The victim further stated that she did not agree to be hypnotized by the suspect.

After the conversation with the suspect, the victim returned to her home with a plastic bag which was handed to her by one of the three suspects. The victim retrieved all of her valuables which included jewelry and $160,000.00 in US Currency. The victim placed the valuables in the plastic bag and handed over the plastic bag to the three suspects in the area of the Boston Common near Province Street.

The women are described as Asian, between 30 and 40 years old, under 5'5" and and between 110 and 135 lbs. Police say similar scams have occurred in other cities, including New York.

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    Comments

    common practice among restaurant owners

    Though this is certainly nothing unique to Chinese folk. Also, newsflash: chinatown is full of illegal and asian gang activity. There could be a thousand reasons for why that cash was there, none of them legitimate.

    A few decades ago the IRS had a field day raiding asian restaurant owners in the midwest when they realized how many were "barely making it", yet the owners were buying Mercs with suitcases of cash.

    Inflation ceases to be a concern when you're not paying any taxes on the money.

    Among Chinese immigrants,

    Among Chinese immigrants, especially those from older generations, the large sum of cash is not that surprising and is definitely not a confirmation of illegal activity on her part. It's ingrained in Chinese culture to save as much as possible over your life as opposed to living paycheck to paycheck when one doesn't need to like many Americans choose to and that doesn't necessarily mean in a bank account. To me it sounds like an elderly woman was drugged, threatened, or otherwise coerced into giving away her and/or her family's life savings.

    As far as the unsubstantiated comments about crime in Chinatown, most of what I do hear about is unfortunately along these lines - lowlifes taking advantage of new immigrants and people who don't now how to navigate the system in an unfamiliar place and look to the wrong people for help.

    The Chinese community is rapidly growing in metro Boston and is doing a lot to help reinvigorate some communities that sorely needed it, yet any time an issue comes up in regards to Chinatown or the Chinese community comments on news websites quickly devolve into unfounded complaining about illegal immigration and lots of other spurious claims.

    Also, newsflash: chinatown is

    Also, newsflash: chinatown is full of illegal and asian gang activity. There could be a thousand reasons for why that cash was there, none of them legitimate.

    Wow, did it even occur to you how incredibly offensive your immediate assumption that an elderly lady who hoarded cash is involved in something shady? What about all those old American-born folks who keep cash under their mattresses because of growing up during the Great Depression? I think growing up in 20th century China (look it up) is kind of more traumatizing.

    Something like this happened to a relative....

    ... long ago. He also felt like he had been hypnotized somehow. In his case, he withdrew virtually all his savings from the bank (a teller wanted to check with another family member -- but was overruled by a bank officer). Things like this happen all the time -- for real.

    I doubt that this poor woman was covered by any sort of insurance.

    Unlikely

    Please see the response below. All due sympathy to your relative, and I'm not saying that he wasn't scammed, but he wasn't hypnotized into giving away all of his money; he had to have had some motivation to do so. (Or perhaps the motivation was to blame having been a scam victim on having been hypnotized. Also understandable.)

    Some people are highly suggestible, having subsumed rational thought for one reason or another. Greed may make them fall for a Nigerian scam, religious belief may prevent them from getting proper medical care, superstition may make them hand over wads of cash (at best this is what happened in the Chinatown incident). Hypnosis however cannot be blamed for any of this behavior.

    This doesn't sound legit

    Hypnotism doesn't work that way. You can't hypnotize someone to do something they do not want to do (ie hand over their life savings), if you can even hypnotize them at all, let alone on a busy Chinatown street.

    I agree

    I agree, but hypnotism is all about believing you have been hypnotized, and things like hypnotism and other superstitions are deeply ingrained in Chinese culture. While the victim may not have been hypnotized the way we would think of hypnosis, an elderly Chinese person might be susceptible to being duped into believing he or she was hypnotized and therefore act hypnotized.

    It sounds silly, but if you've ever watched an entertainer-hypnotist perform, they don't actually hypnotize people but cull a few very suggestible people from a large audience who will believe that they had been. Like the placebo effect, or those people who start acting drunk before they even open their beer.