More victims say San Mateo 'psychic' robbed them

Palo Alto Daily News/December 23, 2008

More victims have come forward to tell police a San Mateo woman who ran a psychic and crystal vision shop persuaded them to hand over large sums of cash after she pleaded not guilty last week to swindling a senior citizen out of tens of thousands of dollars.

Police arrested 46-year-old Janet Adams on Thursday night for allegedly bilking an 85-year-old woman out of $80,330, San Mateo County Chief Deputy District Attorney Steve Wagstaffe said.

The woman first met Adams in January when she stopped by her shop in the Laurelwood Shopping Center "on a lark" for a Tarot reading. Adams convinced her to return and began shaking and crying on the third visit, Wagstaffe said. She allegedly demanded $13,000 for special prayers to prevent the woman's husband from dying of a heart attack, and the woman complied.

Later, Adams reportedly said her own husband was in the hospital and would die if the victim didn't give her $9,000 for his treatment. In the months that followed, Adams extracted thousands of more dollars from the victim with stories about needing cash for her dead husband's funeral and her son's medical treatments, Wagstaffe said.

Over the weekend, police received a number of complaints from more women who said Adams swindled them, Wagstaffe said Monday.

San Mateo police Capt. Kevin Raffaelli said police are investigating an undisclosed number of complaints.

"We received phone calls, and our investigators are still talking to individuals," Raffaelli said.

One of the women to come forward, Dianna Czellecz, contends Adams took at least $1,000 from her during a low point in her life last year.

Czellecz, 51, said she first visited Adams' shop in October 2007. Czellecz is a recovering alcoholic and was having a relapse at that time.

"When I went in her room, the first thing she said was something about my brother named Mark," Czellecz said. "How the heck would she know my brother's name? She didn't even know my name."

At the end of that session, Czellecz said Adams gave her three envelopes, one for prayers for her husband and one for each of her children. She demanded $1,000 for each.

When Czellecz said she didn't have that kind of money, Adams allegedly suggested a $300 payment for prayers and crystals, Czellecz said.

Over the next few months, Czellecz said she saw Adams four or five more times and gave her various payments of about $200 each. All of the payments were in cash.

"I was so vulnerable, and she knew it," Czellecz said. "She knew I was an alcoholic."

Adams was always well-dressed in long skirts and boots, Czellecz said, and she had bleached blonde hair and copious amounts of mascara. None of Adams' predictions came true, and a candle she gave Czellecz to ward off evil spirits turned out to be a Glade strawberries and cream air freshener, she added.

Adams, who is in San Mateo County jail on $500,000 bail, served two years for two felony convictions in 2004, and those cases involved swindling, Wagstaffe said.

"She said she would pray for me every night, and she would light a candle for me every night," Czellecz said. "I always talked to her about karma, so I just want to write: Karma kicks you in the butt, doesn't it?"

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