Crimes of Persuasion

Schemes, scams, frauds.

Psychic and Fortune Teller Scams That May Involve Gypsies

Fortune Tellers

I See Bad Things Happening

A fortune teller in New York utilized a common industry scheme to defraud her "client" out of $200,000 in inheritance money by claiming that the money, given to the victim from a relative, was evil and had to be cleansed. She conned the victim into believing that the source of her personal and professional unhappiness was the "evil" in the inheritance money.

She convinced her client that she could cleanse the money of evil spirits at a cemetery and, thereafter, would return the money so the victim's life would get back on the right path. This late night ritual usually involves a man's white handkerchief and an egg which absorbs the evil spirits.

The victim first met the con outside a restaurant where she was sitting at a table offering tarot card readings for $15. The victim believed the initial reading to be accurate with regard to her life, her children, her husband and her father, and thereafter agreed to regular meetings.

During the meetings, she was befriended and revealed more about her life, including that she had received a substantial inheritance. She was told she needed to "purify" herself so that she could resolve issues concerning her work, love life, and her children. Often this takes the ritualistic form of burning "special" candles which supposedly cost around $100 each.

Over about eight weeks she was directed to make cash withdrawals to purchase items, such as gift certificates and jewelry, that the con would use for all sorts of "ceremonies." Later, she directed the victim to provide monies to her in the form of cash so that she could "clean" the money and "rid it of evil."

After receiving over $160,000 in cash and other personal property and items valued at over $40,000, the fortune teller fell victim to the money's evil and vanished.

Overcome By All The Evil Received

Texas 10/01 - Gina Evans, 35, pleaded guilty to federal wire fraud and money laundering charges for running a psychic hot line scam and was ordered to pay more than $330,000 in restitution to victims nationwide. She could have faced up to 15 years in prison but was given 2 1/2 years.

Authorities said Evans, who went by at least seven aliases, had offered psychic and spiritual advice in advertisements in several national publications, including the National Enquirer, New Woman and Cosmopolitan magazines.

She would charge callers a one-time fee of several hundred dollars, then later convince them to send additional money or property so she could cleanse it of the "evil" in the person's life. She promised to return the items once they were purified, but never did.

The prosecuting attorney stated there were 13 victims identified who agreed to come forward, but questioned how many more were out there. "There was one lady we contacted, but she didn't want to come forward because she said we didn't understand how curses worked. She lost $6,500."

One victim who felt the sentence was too short said. "What she did to me scarred me spiritually and emotionally. She brought demons and devils into my life and said they would kill me and my son. The money is one thing, but when it comes to putting a curse on my son, threatening him, there is no sentence that could cover that."

Another woman, who said she gave Evans $76,000 when she was going through a deep emotional crisis stated. "She took advantage of me when I was really having problems and feeling suicidal."

Please include  as a psychic scam artist.

She likes to run up people's credit cards for them after telling them she needs to get "supplies" such as supposedly "very" expensive candles to bring "good luck" to a person or otherwise do her work of changing your karma, saying there's something in the Chakras that needs correcting.

Sometimes she'd say she'd send something, but then never would because she decided it would be used wrong. She likes "gold" and diamonds as well.

She's a good bullshitter but she's also a darn thief! I managed to get about $6,000 back from her after I told her I would contact the authorities but she still managed to keep about $7,000.

I've accepted my losses and continue to kick myself in the butt for being so stupid to fall for her b.s. to begin with. She gets people when they are most vulnerable such as when they are going through a divorce or bad times in their life.

People like her are very persuasive. I don't know how their evil tricks work, but they do. I imagine they came from hell and will eventually go back there.

Emily 09/22/02

Ham and Eggs

It was late winter of last year when she approached me. I was walking down the street and saw her from a distance handing out flyers. As I was walking down towards her, I noticed she was looking down on the street not looking at anyone. As I was walking towards her direction she handed me a flyer.

The instant I took it she looked straight at my face and said something, and though I can't remember her exact words, it was something along the lines of "my soul mate is out there but I know him and currently quarreling with him and he doesn't know that I am his soul mate yet; that there this darkest surrounding me and standing in the way of my happiness; that I’m in trouble; need to be read and that she would read me for free."

I was so enthralled by what she had said I went with her to her home right up the block and there she read my palm. She said that someone years before had apparently placed a darkness upon me (yes, a supposed “curse”but in her own elaborate wording).

I was astonished to hear of the tough times she knew I had been going through (psychic scammers use questioning methods in order to draw out information out of a person, so they can appear as though they are psychic), that the cause of this was this curse placed upon me, how it affected my past, present and how it will affect my future even worse.

That if I wanted to be happy she had the gift and power to remove this curse placed on me and be able to do that for a “one time fee”of only $300. So I came back with the money and she told me that she would do some meditation that night at her (supposed) church on focusing on how to help me.

She told me to come back the following day and to bring back a red rose and an envelope. So I came in the following day and she told me from her meditation last night, she saw the soul of a person who placed this darkness upon me.

That this person went to someone to have this done and they used things that were not natural or holy to commit this act. She told me make three wishes and pull the petals from the rose, drop them in the envelope and write my name and birth date on it.

She said she would keep the rose and meditate on it that evening and find what she could find out and let me know the following day.

The following day, she said that based upon her mediation she found out that this person hadn’t done this to me once but nine times and that she needed to do further mediation that weekend to find out what needed to be done.

She said that I needed to bring the following week nine bills of $100, an uncooked egg, white cotton underwear, nine leaves (yes, - “the egg trick”) and the envelope. She gave me incense and told me to light and place all those items under my bed that weekend.

I said I would be able to gather the items except that the money would be a problem since I didn’t have that kind of money on me. She said to get whatever largest quantity I could find, so I managed to get $50 bills. I placed all the items under my bed and lit the incense that weekend and contacted her right after as she instructed me to.

The following Monday I came in, and though I can’t remember all the step by step details of what she did, I do recall she blessed me with some holy water (probably tap water), took the money and folded it into a shape like a star, had me recite some gibberish prayer that she was recanting, put the money on my forehead and chest and then put the money in the envelope for me to keep.

Then she did the “egg trick”having my eyes closed and having me reciting again another gibberish prayer (a way to keep you distracted so they can slip whatever disgusting gross thing onto the egg they just crack).

When I opened my eyes I found a “tiny wormy snake in the egg”cracked and placed on top of the underwear I was told to bring. Afterwards, she told me based upon her meditation that weekend and only one snake being found in the egg there was still more evil that had not been removed (“that only one evil was removed but there was 2 more evils that had not been removed”)- hence there was more work needed to be done.

At home, she told me to light a white candle halfway with my initials engraved, leave a half filled water jar under my bed and breathe into it 9 times a day, tie nine red ribbons around my fingers and toes and to bring $2,700 the next day (her explanation: $300 - three representing the trinity of the largest denomination X 9 – the many times the curse had been placed upon me) for her to remove the evil from me and transfer it to this money.

She said that afterwards I had the choice to have it destroyed before my eyes and buried in the ground where no human being would walk, or lock it in a specially ordered box for several months to be placed on an alter of her church to be cleansed and be given back to me several months later.

I told her it was going to be difficult since I didn’t have that kind of money on me.

She yelled at me saying if I really wanted to be happy I needed to rid myself of this, that I should try to get as much as I could, and to contact her through the week on the progress of the money. So I contacted her mid-week saying I could only get $900. She told me to light the rest of the candle and contact her on Sunday to set up a day. I contacted her on Sunday and then throughout the week until she said she was available to do it the following week.

So I came to her home the following week and had her destroy the all money including the money in the white envelope by having her rip the money before my eyes, or at least under my throat, while she had me recite another prayer (another method they use - she had ripped some but not all of the bills as she crumpled them and left them to fall to the ground, the impression and sound that they were all being ripped when in fact they weren’t). Then she had me write up and sign a contract stating that I was loaning her the money.

She then told me to come back the following day with the leftover candle wax so she could mediate with it and to pick up a package of crystals, incense and holy water that she had ordered for me to use that weekend.

When I came in the next day, she did some sort of ritual cleansing on me and the only thing she gave me consisted of incense and some water mixed with incense to bath in (which I never used and threw away) and that the crystal she specially ordered would arrive in a few weeks and to contact her again that weekend.

But then that weekend, realizing what I had done, I came to my senses and called her requesting she give my money back and she said she would. Later that weekend she called me saying she had only half of the money and to pick it up on Monday and that she would give me the rest later on.

That Monday, I went to her home and picked up the money. She said to check later on this week or next to see if “the church”could give her the rest of the money. So for three weeks, I called and called. Mostly phone tagging her, with her each time giving me excuses that the church wasn’t able to give her any money and she very busy and to call again later, in the hope that I would eventually give up in the end.

Realizing I wouldn’t give up, she finally relented saying she had the money for me to pick up. I did so and never spoke to her since.

As you read this you might have thought that common or instinctive sense would have told me to stop my involvement when things started to get shady.

Believe me, I contested and was suspicious every time money was asked. But like most people who tell of their account of being a victim of a psychic scam these psychic scammers are very skilled in convincing you that they have the gift and power to help you, and the ability to extract information from you.

Their overall objective is to emotionally control and psychologically take advantage of you by tapping into your vulnerability and fears – which is frightening!!

They try to win your trust and loyalty to get you to confide in them, so they can use that information (whether emotional or financial) against you. They profess to know the cause of your problems and that they have the power to help you, and will do whatever needs to be done (in most cases asking for money) to benefit you in the end.

They make sure that they put their hooks into you to convince you to still want to be involved in their scheme by enticing you to come back for more.

In my case, this fraudster had me call her constantly and every weekend to let her know how I was doing. She would occasionally provide me with bits of information regarding the person who “supposedly”cursed me and promised to later find out exactly who it was (which she never did!!). She was very convincing, wanting me to believe, and have faith in what she was saying and the power of what she could do.

She seemed empathetic in listening to my concerns and problems. Stating that there was no pressure to this if I didn’t want to do it, allowing me to think it over and that even if afterwards, if I had doubts about it, she would give me the money right back. From the basis of that I assumed she was the genuine thing.

Her name is supposedly "Laura or Arroyo" and she resides at her place of business on West 24th Street in NYC.

She is in her 30’s and says she is of Greek descent with Mediterranean or Hispanic features, but she capable of changing her appearance. Her blond hair apparently seems to have been bleached at the time that I had been approached by her.

I later found out she occasionally displays a fold- out advertisement sign of her supposed services or hands out flyers at the end of the corner walk where she resides.

Except for the $300 fee she charged and refused to give back, I was able to get all of my $1,600 back. An ordeal, beginning to end, of about a month.

Flat Iron District Victim 03/29/03

04/03 North Jersey - Karen R. Mitchell, 32, of Allendale has to answer charges of theft by deception for claiming to be a psychic and bilking a client out of nearly $24,000 over two years.

The client told police the scam began on her first visit when Mitchell said she needed more time for a séance and asked her to get more money from an automated teller machine.

At one point she and the soothsayer traveled to New York City to buy a $12,000 Tourneau watch so they could "turn back time."  The watch was among jewelry and clothing that police say persuaded the woman to buy.

In other instances, the client was persuaded to buy clothing to dress up figures to look like people from her past.

Woman jailed in scam as psychic - VICTIM, 19, WAS PRESSED TO PAY TOTAL OF $15,000

By Jessie Seyfer - Mercury News 12/06/03

A self-proclaimed psychic based in Half Moon Bay was sentenced to two years in state prison Friday for demanding that a 19-year-old woman pay her $15,000 to ward off predictions that the woman's family members would die.

Janet Adams, 41, operated as a palm reader and psychic at a booth at the annual Half Moon Bay Pumpkin Festival and got to know the victim through a friend, said San Mateo County Deputy District Attorney Kathryn Alberti.

"This 19-year-old was very innocent, very vulnerable," Alberti said.

Over several months, Adams would make predictions that the woman's family members were about to die, and would tell her that she needed to pay or the predictions would come true, Alberti said. The victim had access to a parent's bank account, and also charged payments on her credit cards, Alberti said.

The requests for money came almost weekly until the woman became suspicious and reported Adams to police last fall, when she was arrested in San Mateo.

Adams was convicted last year of running the same scam on a San Mateo piano store owner. In that case, she operated under the name Kimberly Johnson, and managed to convince the owner to give her a total of $100,000, Alberti said.

Women Accused of Satanic Ritual Fortune Teller Scam

08/06 - MILFORD, Conn. -- (AP) Police have arrested two Stratford women accusing them of scamming a woman out of $145,000 through some bizarre rituals including drinking rooster blood.

Maria dos Santos, 52, and her daughter, Shirley Iannucci, 30, were arrested by police Tuesday on charges of first-degree larceny and conspiracy.

Police said the two women had become friendly with the alleged victim who was going through a divorce last year.

According to court documents, the alleged victim feared for her life after dos Santos told her that "God was going to kill her." The city woman called police in January, the day after dos Santos performed a satanic ritual in her West River Street home that included drinking blood from a dead rooster, according to the arrest warrant affidavit.

Dos Santos persuaded the victim to let her handle all of her financial affairs while the divorce was pending, according to court documents.

Both women were released after posting bond.

Psychic arrested in scam - bilks woman of $30,000, cops say

11/06 - (Illinois) A LaPlace woman claiming to be a psychic, who police say bilked a woman distraught over a relative's bad health out of $30,000 in 2003 and 2004, has been arrested, ending a nearly 18-month search.

Sonya G. Marks, 24, who goes by Sister Savannah and Madam Savannah, was booked with theft Thursday afternoon.

Marks told the Chicago woman in December 2003 that it would take $10,000 to remove the "evil" in her that was causing the sickness to her family member, said James Gallagher, Kenner Police Department spokesman. He said the sick family member originally went to Marks seeking help.

Gallagher wouldn't release details about the family, but a Jefferson Parish Sheriff's Office arrest report said Marks told the woman that her brother had a curse on him that would cause his leg to be amputated unless the sister gave Marks money.

In January 2004, Marks again met with the woman and told her an additional $20,000 was needed to fight the evil.

After she received the money, Savannah told the woman that things would get better, Gallagher said. Marks mailed her a lucky pouch and angel pin to wear, a white candle to light every day and holy water to bath in on Sundays, Gallagher said.

But the woman's family member was hospitalized in February 2004, and she asked for her money back.

Marks refused, saying that too much work had been done.

The Chicago woman filed a police report with the Kenner Police Department in October 2004 and a warrant was issued for Marks' arrest in May 2005.

Gallagher said Marks, 1050 East Airline Drive, LaPlace, was able to elude police because of Hurricane Katrina and because she kept moving her storefront to different Kenner locations. He said her relatives and friends weren't cooperative in helping police find her.

Marks was released from jail Friday on a personal surety bond.

No one answered the door Friday afternoon at her new office building in the 1900 block of Williams Boulevard. A woman who answered the phone number given on a Madam Savannah sign said a reporter had the wrong number.

The sign advertised Savannah as "a palm and card reader, healer and advisor."

By Mary Swerczek Sparacello, The Times-Picayune


UK - 01/08 -Trading Standards officers have warned people to watch out for an "insidious" scam which preys on people's religious beliefs.

Lincoln residents are being bombarded with leaflets, supposedly sent by a "world famous psychic healer" called Karina Natalia.

Ms Natalia claims that she has chosen the recipient of the letter to receive her prayers of "wealth, luck and happiness" when she makes a pilgrimage to Lourdes in France.

She claims those prayers will be answered to the tune of £75,000 if the letter recipient is lucky.

The letter does not ask for money, but it does ask people to fill in the questionnaire on the back.

The personal details requested include the recipient's full name, date of birth and place of birth.

This is nearly enough information with which to open a bank account.

And the sender also asks for information on pets', partners' and spouses' names - the information a lot of people use as bank and e-mail account passwords.

The owner of Arrow Cycles in Newark Road, North Hykeham, Carole Thompson, received one of the letters.

"I thought this was pretty disgusting in the way it focuses on religious belief and people's feelings for their loved ones and pets," she said.

Lincolnshire trading standards divisional manager Mark Keal said: "It is pretty insidious the way they target people like this.

"We get a lot of these scams, some are very aggressive and almost scare people into offering up information, others are a little more persuasive and subtle like this one."

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