The victim was allegedly persuaded to give up more than $3 million.
A psychic in Miami really should have seen this prison sentence coming.
According to The Department of Justice, “a family curse, fortune telling, and swindling a victim out of more than $3 million” landed a Florida fortune teller and her partner behind bars. Psychic Samantha Stevens, 51, was sentenced to 30 months in prison, while Michael Paul Guzman, 42, was given 38 months for “a fortune telling fraud scheme and money laundering.”
Stevens and the victim reportedly met in 2012, when the defendant “was portraying herself as a psychic/fortune teller.”
“Stevens gained the victim’s trust and convinced her that a curse had been placed on her and her family,” reads a press release from the DoJ. “Stevens claimed she needed to perform rituals on large sums of money in order to lift the curse. Failure to do so — the victim was led to believe — would result in harm to her and her family.”
Jade Janks Interiors/Facebook
Prosecutor: Woman Killed Stepfather After Discovering Nude Photos of Her on His Computer
Throughout the course of the scheme, the victim handed over more than $3 million, which was allegedly used on vehicles, property and gambling. Stevens is accused of ceasing communication with the victim “after she could no longer pay for the rituals” to cleanse the money. It was then the victim reached out to law enforcement. In addition to their prison sentence, the defendants must also return $3.198 million to the victim.
According to court docs, lawyers for Stevens tried to have the case thrown out because she claimed there was never a promise the “cleansed” money would be returned to the victim. They also argued their client’s behavior was protected by the Religious Freedom Restoration Act.
The Miami New Times reported Stevens argued the ceremonies were part of her Romani heritage and compared her taking the victim’s money to donations or contributions to Christian leaders from church members. The judge, however, said “there are plenty alternatives for Stevens to practice her religion without engaging in a scheme to defraud.”
Stevens and Guzman reportedly struck a deal to avoid longer prison sentences.
Philadelphia Police Department
Philadelphia ‘Boy in the Box’ Finally Identified 65 Years After He Was Found Beaten to Death