SINGAPORE - They promised the two elderly women that they would pray for them and bless their valuables to avoid a calamity.
But it was all an elaborate scam and the group of five conmen were actually preying on their victims for their jewellery and cash. They eventually made off with valuables worth a total $439,000.
Yesterday, Li Lianying, 50, and Li Peng, 45, pleaded guilty in court for scheming with three others to deceive Madam Goh Kah Keow, 72, of jewellery and cash worth $401,450.
The two Chinese nationals also admitted to cheating Madam Chua Peck Har, 66, of jewellery and cash worth $37,550.
The three other Chinese nationals - Li Cai Hong, 45, Li Lian Ying, 40, and Li Tu Wang, 43 - are on the run.
Court documents stated that the five arrived in Singapore from Hong Kong on Nov 18 last year. During their stay here, they hatched a plan to cheat elderly women.
On Nov 20, they came across Madam Goh alone at a bus stop near Roxy Square.
Li Lianying approached her and told a story about her "daughter who was hospitalised in Taiwan with an incurable disease".
She asked whether Madam Goh knew of a medium who could help her "daughter".
At this point, Cai Hong walked past and claimed that she knew a medium. He offered to take Lianying and Madam Goh to him.
Madam Goh, who felt sympathetic towards Lianying, decided to follow the two China women. As they were about to leave the bus stop, a third China woman, Lian Ying, came along.
Cai Hong claimed that Lian Ying was the medium's granddaughter and approached her. Cai Hong and Lianying then pretended to plead with Lian Ying for help. Madam Goh, who was duped, joined in.
Meanwhile, Li Peng and Tu Wang kept watch from a distance.
Lian Ying instructed her two female accomplices and Madam Goh to wait at the bus stop and said she would seek the medium's advice.
But when she returned, she turned to Madam Goh and claimed that she was "haunted by vicious spirits who were trying to harm her", and that only a "high priest" could help her. Feeling helpless, Madam Goh asked if the medium could help her.