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October 30, 2009

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'Magical' gang brings calamities

SHANGHAI police have cracked down on a gang that ripped off locals by claiming to ward off calamities for them. The biggest victim was swindled of cash and jewelry worth 135,500 yuan (US$19,842) last month.

On September 23, a woman surnamed Zhu met two women when she was shopping in a food market on Baoding Road, Hongkou District. Two suspects talked to Zhu about a supposed master wizard who lived nearby, saying they were acquainted with the master's granddaughter.

The suspects then took Zhu to meet the "granddaughter," who diagnosed Zhu and said she could wipe out Zhu's coming "disaster" by chanting over Zhu's fortune, police said. Zhu then brought her a package of belongings including cash, jewelry and antiques.

Zhu later found her package had been switched while the suspect sang the incantation. She called police.

Hongkou District police said the suspects were hard to trace based on the information offered by Zhu, and they spent a lot of time checking all the cameras on the crossroads near the market.

On October 10, a similar case was reported in the same district and a victim surnamed Chen was cheated of 2,300 yuan in the same way.

Police said they identified the suspects after dozens of hours of work on checking the cameras.

Six suspects in the two cases were detained on October 16.

Police reminded people not to believe claims of magical cures or blessings, which might be the tricks of swindlers.


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