Fortune Telling Fraud
A crime designed to financially exploit a victim under of the guise of providing assistance. It involves gaining the victim's complete trust and, then through carefully managed manipulation, convincing the victim to give valuables to the suspect(s).
Victims of these cases are of any age and background and share a common trait of seeking help in solving a problem in their life. Problems generally fall into three major categories: Love, Money and Health.
The offense starts off innocently with a 'reading' for a nominal fee. The suspect may use a method and props such as: Religious icons, Tarot Cards, Crystal Ball, Palm Reading, Tea Leaves Reading, Coffee Grind Reading, Sand Reading, ESP Psychic Reading, and Dice etc.
During the reading, the reader elicits information from the victim, using both verbal and non-verbal clues, and then repeats it back in such a way as to reinforce the fact that the reader does, in fact, have certain powers.
In subsequent sessions, the victim is most often convinced that their 'problem' is the result of a curse that has been placed on them or their family.
The reader convinces the victim that through spiritual or physic powers she/he alone is able to remove this curse.
To prove that a curse exists, many different ploys are used. The reader performs a ritual, (using common magic tricks) which is designed to convince the victim that the evil of the curse has manifested itself in the item. For instance, a devils head that appears when an egg is broken, needles that come out of a tomato, water that turns red, a live chicken dies, a small snake or worm appears to come out of an item or the victim's body.
The reader convinces the victim that she/he 'has the gift' and can remove the curse. The curse removal sometimes entails the destruction of the cause of the curse, which invariably is money or jewelry.
In some cases the suspect takes the valuables, with a promise to return them, to have them blessed or prayed over.
In other cases, the reader convinces the victims that the valuables must be destroyed or buried with an accompanying ritual to remove the curse.
The curse removal can be carried out in one short operation or more generally is carried out over a period of months and sometimes years, taking all of the victim's liquid assets. When these assets are used up, some offenses continue by having the victim obtain more money though the use of their credit.
A long-term offense results in the total psychological manipulation of the victim, which isolates them from any independent support from family or friends and keeps them vulnerable to any suggestions given by the reader.