NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) — The NYPD is searching for a team of female con artists pulling what’s called the “Chinese blessing scam.”

The suspects have been targeting Asian women in their 50s and 60s.

In each incident, police said the victims are told their families are cursed. They are then instructed to place jewelry and money in a bag and give them to women who will perform a blessing ritual to reverse the curse.

The bag is returned to the victims and they discover that their money and valuables have been replaced by bottles of water, police said.

Five women in Manhattan, Queens and Brooklyn have been bilked out of nearly $500,000 since April, police said. One woman was ripped off of $280,000 and jewelry on Grand Street, 1010 WINS’ Juliet Papa reported.

City Councilmember Margaret Chin said often the victims don’t speak English.

“We just want to make sure people know about these types of situations and to be able to warn their families and friends,” Chin said.

Anyone with information is asked to call the NYPD Crime Stoppers at (800) 577-TIPS, visit the Crime Stoppers website, or text tips to 274637 (CRIMES) and enter TIP577.