A woman in Boston’s Chinatown claims that a trio of thieves hypnotized her into handing over $160,000—and the police are taking this seriously, the Boston Heraldreports. The 57-year-old Cantonese speaker says three women stopped her on the street, did a little hocus pocus, and sent her home with a bag to fill with money, passport, and jewelry. She later rendezvoused with them at Boston Common and handed over the goods.
“Having somebody instantaneously hypnotize you” in such a fashion “sounds a little unlikely,” says a local hypnotist. But similar reports have surfaced in New York City, where they apparently go under-reported because victims don’t speak English or are too embarrassed. Such mesmerized muggings also fit in with Chinese lore. “It’s something that’s potentially very dangerous,” says a Chinese advocate in Boston. “I think the elderly are particularly vulnerable because they obviously would have a hard time just walking away.”