Psychic Peaches Stevens accused of scamming $136,000 from woman

Peaches Stevens, also known as Mrs. Starr, told a woman her there was a curse on her family that could be removed with Stevens' help, records show

Orlando Sentinel/January 25, 2012

Priti Mahalanobis, a college-educated mother of two who ran a business, was having a rough time.

Her father's company was in trouble. Her brother's marriage was failing. She wasn't feeling well.

Distraught, she went to the Meditation and Healing Center in Windermere after receiving a coupon book in the mail that included an ad for a $20 psychic reading, she said.

The woman, Peaches Stevens, also known as Mrs. Starr, told her there was a curse on her family that could be removed with Stevens' help, court documents show.

Mahalanobis was to perform rituals, bring Stevens thousands of dollars, open credit-card accounts and keep them secret from her husband and hand over $65,000 worth of jewelry to be pawned, Mahalanobis said.

Seven months later, Mahalanobis was out $135,899 in cash, jewelry and gift cards, prosecutors said. By that time, she realized she had been duped and hired a private investigator to pursue the case.

"Nobody goes to someone to be conned, to be victimized," Mahalanobis said. "Unfortunately, I put my trust in the wrong person."

On Jan. 11, Stevens, 29, was arrested on felony charges of obtaining property by fraud. Stevens, who lives in Winter Garden and was released from the Orange County Jail on $22,000 bail, Tuesday night said she could not comment on the advice of her attorney.

The private investigator, Bob Nygaard of South Florida, credits an interview Mahalanobis granted to CNN's Anderson Cooper last fall with pressuring the Orange-Osceola State Attorney's Office to prosecute the case.

Mahalanobis, who lives in the Dr. Phillips neighborhood and lost her Quiznos sub shop in Avalon Park as a result of her financial woes, admits feeling foolish about what happened. But she decided to go public to try to help others.

"I learned a lot," said Mahalanobis, who is working part-time in a school cafeteria and slowly paying off her debt. "Not to let fear or guilt control you or your actions. Also, listen to your gut, your instinct, that little voice in the back of your head. Because your mind can fool you."

Mahalanobis alleges that Stevens, whose office is steps from the Windermere Police Department, gave her several ways to purge her family's bad luck. They included:

•Putting 11 $100 bills and 11 relatives' names on a piece of paper in an envelope under her mattress and a grapefruit under bed while she slept. This purportedly was because money is the root of all evil, and the evil afflicting her family would be attracted to the money, Mahalanobis said.

•Buying seven tabernacles at a cost of $19,000 each to "vanquish the negativity, curses and evil spirits that plagued her family," a charging report states.

•Keeping her efforts to purge the spirits secret or the evil would take over permanently and nothing could then stop it.

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