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Boston Police Warning of Possible 'Hypnosis Robberies' Near Chinatown

"When all was said and done, the victim handed over to these women $160,000 in cash"

Boston Police are warning of possible "hypnosis" robberies near Chinatown--particularly targeting elderly women.  The scam, which many consider unlikely, has also popped up in New York, San Francisco, and Philadelphia, and has allegedly already claimed the life savings of one woman.

What does the scam entail? Supposedly, victims are approached by a number of hypnosis-competent individuals, and then "hypnotized" into willingly turning over their valuables.

CBS elaborates:

...the victim claims three young women approached her on the street. One of the women asked her a series of questions – all in Cantonese — about her family.

In the span of just a few minutes, the victim alleges the women hypnotized her without her permission and convinced her to go back home and put all of her valuables in a bag.

When all was said and done, the victim handed over to these women $160,000 in cash and jewelry.

But what do professional psychotherapists have to say on the matter?

...Lorna McKenzie-Pollock uses hypnosis on some of her clients. She says no one can be hypnotized to do something they don’t want to do.

“I’ve been doing hypnosis for about 20 years,” [she explained], “and I could never get someone to part with $160,000 . . . unless they wanted to give it to me.”

She says it is actually not impossible for someone to be hypnotized on the street by a stranger, as is alleged in this case. But more likely, she feels, is that in the Boston scam, the woman was just conned out of her cash by some very artful criminals.

“In order to really hypnotize somebody,” says McKenzie-Pollock, “they have to kind of trust you and you have to have some kind of rapport with them. And it sounds like these women did that...they asked her the right questions and kind of developed rapport with her. What happened next, I’m not really sure. I don’t think it was hypnosis but it was something pretty powerful.”

Do you believe it's possible to be "hypnotized" into turning over your valuables, or is it just part of a larger scam?

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