They didn’t see that coming? Psychic ring who threatened customers with hauntings charged with fleecing $40m over 20 years

Mail, UK/August 17, 2011

It looks like one particular group of fortune tellers need to brush up on their skills – because they failed to predict their own arrest.

Ten ‘psychic readers’ from Fort Lauderdale in Florida allegedly conned customers out of $40million (£25million), telling them that unless they handed over cash and valuables, they would be haunted.

Police swooped on the soothsayers, who are all related by blood or marriage, after a huge cross-state investigation dubbed ‘Operation Crystal Ball’.

Facing charges are Rose Marks, 60, Nancy Marks, 42, Cynthia Miller, 33, Rosie Marks, 36, Victoria Eli, 65, Vivian Marks, 21, Ricky Marks, 39, Michael Marks, 33, Donnie Eli, 38, and Peter Wolofsky, 84.

They all billed themselves as fortune tellers, clairvoyants and spiritual advisers and operated from shops in Fort Lauderdale.

The authorities said that many customers came to them as a desperate last resort, for instance hoping that they could be cured of a disease or put in touch with a deceased loved one.

It’s alleged, however, that they were then warned that only by parting with money and possessions could they avoid being haunted or befalling terrible bad luck.

Customers were promised that their money would be returned once it was cleansed of evil spirits, but according to the indictment it was kept for personal used by the fortune tellers.

The indictment said: ‘These defendants represented to their clients that in order to excise a curse or evil spirits and the illnesses they caused, the clients had to temporarily give large sums of money so they could cleanse the money of the curse or evil spirits, with the promise of returning the money and other valuable items to the clients. The defendants never returned the money.’

The defendants are facing 47 counts of wire fraud and face up to 20 years in prison if found guilty.

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