“Street Hypnotists” in Hawaii conning Elderly out of Life Savings

Evidently, a gang of female street hypnotists are roaming Chinatown in Honolulu and bilking elderly women out of their life savings . . . or at least that’s how some of their victims are describing it.

I’m going to go ahead and call BS on this one right off the bat. While the crimes are very real and the victims have had their life savings taken away by a trio of heartless cons, that’s all it is . . . a confidence game. It’s an old con and one we’ve seen variations of time and time again. Actually, this very con was run in LA Chinatown less than a year ago and variations can be found in case reports in India, Malaysia, Russia, the Philippines, and elsewhere.

It’s an ugly piece of work but has nothing to do with hypnosis. Some of the victims have been reporting that they were hypnotized but that’s not actually part of the con proper and in many cases people come out of the thing thinking they must have been hypnotized or else there’s no good reason for them to have fallen for the trick. A few years ago, a trio of ladies in India did incorporate some light trance mediation in their spiel and patter but it’s not really why the con works.

Essentially, the current group of harpy siren thieves approach elderly women in Chinatown and strike up a conversation. At some point, they announce that their psychic eyes see that the women have been cursed but it’s okay because are less than honest psychics are more than happy to pray for the cursed women and the best part is it will cost them NOTHING. Yep, get a prayer to remove a curse that’s going to mess up your life and that of your family and get it at no charge . . . since the psychics are such good people.

However, they do need to have their most valued treasures and money with them for the prayer to work. They get their victims to put all their valuables in a bag and take it somewhere neutral (many cons who run this scam meet outside a Cathedral, Church, Mosque, or Temple – depending upon the religion of the mark). Once they meet the women stage a nice prayer ritual by placing hands over the bag and everyone closes their eyes in fervent prayer while the curse is dispelled and any associated demons or evil spirits are exorcised). The women then smile to their grateful victim, refusing any payment. They tell the elderly woman to then take the bag and leave, they must not look back and they must not open the bag or the spell prayer won’t work.

Many of the victims don’t check the bag until they get home or even days later and by then it’s too late. Police report that many of the victims are so ashamed of their own gullibility that they don’t even report the crime. Hint, folks, REPORT THE DAMNED CRIME! Yes, you were taken in. Yes, you were foolish in the moment. But . . . and this is a big BUT, you were taken advantage of by professional criminals who used social influence to leverage your response. It’s better to take the hit on your pride and help the police capture these heartless succubae from the pits of hell than to stay quiet and allow them to continue preying on others.

Hawaii News Now – KGMB and KHNL

Nope, no hypnosis needed. Unfortunately, these kind of stories often pull out the hypnosis angle in order to sell and attract an audience. I found the story because of a headline link with hypnosis in it . . . so . . . note the headline above. See more on this particular story at http://www.hawaiinewsnow.com/story/20131866/chinatown-businesses-warn-of-scam-targeting-elderly-women.

This is social influence and social engineering and a whole lot of social psychology being used to manipulate folks from a demographic that tends to have a lot of folks who have depleted critical skills due to diet and age and who happen to tend to have hidden money or jewels in their homes who believe in curses and their consequences and who tend to be isolated from others who can give them advice.

It ain’t hypnosis but it is deplorable.

I teach communication at the university and include units on critical thinking and a whole lot on social influence in the course. Yes, I even teach my students about scams and confidence games of this type as part of their critical thinking training. Unfortunately, a lot of folks get taken advantage of every day . . . many taken in by simple confidence tricks that should easily be recognized if one understands social influence and has experience with critical analysis of these sort of interactions.

If you’re in Taipei and interested in genuine hypnosis, check the services page linked to in the top left sidebar. Not in Taipei? Check the store for recordings in the same menu area as well as links to lots and lots of info and goodies. Of course, browsing this site will bring you to a digital ton of positive resources on a wide variety of topics as well.


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