Authorities on Monday issued a warning about a phone scam targeting San Francisco’s Chinese-American community, with one victim losing nearly $3 million.
The scam, dubbed “The Chinese Embassy Phone Scam,” calls their targets in Mandarin and claims to be from the Chinese Embassy. The scammers then try to convince the people that they are guilty of financial fraud and only by sending money overseas they can clear their name, SFGate reported.
“The Chinese Embassy Phone Scam is a complex scheme designed to scare people into turning over their money,” District Attorney George Gascón told the outlet. “Once someone sends their money to scammers overseas, it becomes incredibly hard to recover. Preventing the scam before it occurs is our best tool to combat these ploys.”
“Once someone sends their money to scammers overseas, it becomes incredibly hard to recover.
State authorities issued a warning about the scam and held a public awareness and prevention event on Monday in Chinatown as the con artists are targeting the Chinese-American community.
“We’ve seen a very big increase in scam phone calls in San Francisco,” said Alex Bastian, a district attorney spokesperson. “We’re trying to prevent these scams from happening because once money leaves the US, forget us not having jurisdiction, but even federal authorities don’t have jurisdiction. Once the money’s gone, the money’s gone.”
The public awareness event educated residents on how to know if they are speaking with officials from the embassy or whether they are scammers. According to Gascón, one immediate red flag is asking for the person’s information – the embassy generally don’t ask to provide any personal information over the phone.
“Just hang up. If you don’t know them, don’t talk to them, especially in this day and age.”
“Just hang up,” Jason Collom, a senior inspector for the district attorney’s office, told SFGate. “If you don’t know them, don’t talk to them, especially in this day and age.”
Scammers have been plaguing the Chinese American community over the years. Earlier this year, another scam called the Gold Scam targeted the community and managed to syphon tens of thousands of dollars.
In 2013 and 2014, a million dollars in property were stolen from residents in San Francisco following the Blessing Scams that convinced elderly Chinese people that they need to cleanse evil spirits from their money and jewelry.