Woman Charged In 'Blessing Scam,' Considered Hate Crime

In New York on Thursday, a Chinese woman was indicted on hate crime charges following having allegedly scammed two other Chinese women out of $160,000 in cash and jewelry.

Xueken Su, 44, has been accused of two separate crimes whereby she convinced women in Brooklyn that their families were cursed and that by placing cash and jewels in a bag, they would be rid of the curse, said the Brooklyn district attorney. One case involved $140,000 in cash and 24-karat gold jewelry allegedly being stolen before the bag was returned to the 61-year-old Chinese woman, seeking to rid herself of the supposed curse. The Chinese immigrant was instructed not to open the bag for days. Yet, that same evening, the woman looked inside to discover her valuables and money were missing.

At her arraignment in Brooklyn on Thursday at the Supreme Court, Su pleaded not-guilty to eight counts including second, third, and fourth-degree larceny as a hate crime.

A spokesperson for the DA's office relayed information about the case to NBC and shared that prosecutors charge with a hate crime if a victim is targeted for ethnicity, race or religious beliefs.
"In this case, the theory is that the victims were targeted because of their ethnicity, because they were Chinese, and because of their religious practices, their religious spiritual beliefs."
If found guilty of the indictment's top count, Su faces up to 25 years in prison. The bail for Su was set by Justice Danny Chun at $150,000, or $250,000 bond. However, Morris Shamuil, Su's attorney, states that Su has no funds or assets to post bail, therefore remains behind bars. The attorney also shared that Su had been charged in a similar case within the borough of Queens. She is to appear once again in the Brooklyn Supreme Court on December 21.

Attorney Shamuil spoke in regard to his client's background and highlighted reasons that left Su no other option but to use criminal means to earn money. The attorney told the judge at the arraignment that Su was smuggled from China to the United States based on a promise that she would be given a job and be able to earn money, as well as receive legal immigration status. He continued, stating that his client was forced to do things that she was not keen on and did not agree with in exchange for basic survival needs being met, such as gaining food and shelter.

"She was not aware of what she would have to do. She didn't know what the price was until she got to America."
Shamuil also indicated that both he and his client disagree with the hate crime charge seeing as his client and the victims in the case are all Chinese. "I have not ever seen anything like this done before, in terms of making grand larceny as a hate crime," he said.The charges also involve one other case where Su and other suspects, who have yet to be apprehended, targeted a 54-year-old Chinese immigrant. The woman was told that a member of her family would die from a curse and therefore gathered $19,000 in cash and pieces of 24-karat gold jewelry to be blessed. The victim was also promised that her money and jewelry would be returned. It was some time later that the woman realized that what she had handed over was gone from the bag.

As noted, Su and other suspects were arrested in August due to their connection with a similar incident that occurred in Manhattan and Queens. In that case, two women, one being Su, and a man were charged after stealing $85,000 in cash and jewelry that a Chinese senior citizen had reportedly handed over to be blessed and have a curse of death removed.

[Featured Image by Borja Sanchez-Trillo/Getty Images]