Chicago police arrest 'psychic' who claimed to cleanse cash, bad luck

Chicago Sun-Times/December 25, 2008

By Alan Schmidt

Gina Reed, 35, of Arlington Heights was arrested by Chicago police Dec. 17 on a count of felony theft by deception. She is accused of posing as a psychic reader, allegedly telling her clients she could reverse the troubles in their lives by blessing their money.

One of those clients, a 46-year-old woman, told police at the Jefferson Park (16th) District on Nov. 22 that she had given Reed $10,000 in August 2007 while Reed was operating her business out of a house on the 8400 block of West Castle Island Avenue in Chicago.

The self-proclaimed spiritual advisor's advertising included flyers boasting that "You May Have Seen Her on TV," police said. She allegedly convinced the victim that -- with the cash placed in her possession -- she would be able to drive away any evil spirits tormenting her client's life. The woman recalled that Reed said she must conduct a ceremonial blessing or cleansing of the cash, but promised that the victim would see her money again.

She tried numerous times to recover the funds from Reed, but without success, police said.

According to a police news release issued Dec. 18, "Reed eventually canceled her telephone number and moved out of the home," and made no attempts to contact the victim.

Chicago police identified her current residence as the 500 block of South Arlington Heights Road, and said she posed as a psychic reader, as part of a group of Eastern European Criminal Travelers.

An investigation, conducted by Chicago's Grand Central Area (5) detectives, found a number of other victims, including a 47-year-old woman, who also filed a report in the 16th District, telling of similar experiences at the Castle Island Avenue residence.

The 47-year-old victim told police that she had been a customer of the woman -- known to her as "Stephanie Santini" -- since finding a flyer on her vehicle in August 2006. She told officers that the fortune teller asked for $10,000 in a briefcase so she could bring the money to a shrine in Indiana.

Later this second victim got suspicious and went to the house to ask for it. When she got there the house was empty and a for-rent sign was planted on the front lawn. Other victims went there for the same reason, hoping to have their cash returned them, only to encounter a similar sight.

Police said four victims have come forward so far, reporting a total loss of $98,000.

The victims were all duped into believing that they -- and in some cases their loved ones, too -- faced terrible hardships or health risks that could only be avoided with the psychic reader's spiritual intervention, police said.

With the leads gathered from the investigation, detectives tracked down Reed and took her into custody for a series of lineups, held on Dec. 17, where she was identified as the fortune teller by victims.

In addition to operating at he West Castle Island Avenue address, located in the Forestview subdivision of Chicago, southwest of Norridge, police said Reed also had operations on the 1800 block of North Clybourn Avenue in Chicago and on East Northwest Highway in Arlington Heights.

To see more documents/articles regarding this group/organization/subject click here.