A new warning has been issued about faith healers who promise cures for everything from illness to financial difficulties – all with a hefty bill attached.
A woman has told the Leicester Mercury her family has been torn apart and financially exploited by a man who claims to have healing powers.
The man, whose details have been passed to the authorities, flies into the UK regularly from India and has promoted himself as a spiritual healer in Leicester and Birmingham, the woman said.
In a letter to the newspaper, she said: “He is a very dangerous man, taking money and telling families they must cut ties with each other.
“He has caused destruction in families in Leicester and Birmingham.
“Many will not come forward because they are embarrassed that he has given them false hope.
“He comes across very sweet.
"Anything that is happening in my life is because of ‘black magic’.
“It’s lucky I have come out of his trap.
"My family has cut ties with me. He has a stronghold on them.”
The woman did not say how much money she or her family had given to the crook.
The man’s methods appear to mirror those of con artists highlighted by Leicestershire Police and trading standards officials at Leicester City Council on a number of occasions in the past few years.
Typically, such so-called 'healers' claim to be able to lift curses, ensure success in business and cure illnesses from cancer to depression.
There are documented cases in the city of families and individuals handing over tens of thousands of pounds for bogus cures which come in the form or prayers or potions.
Many of the con artists advertise their services in foreign language newspapers or by putting business cards through letterboxes or leaving them on car windscreens.
Leading members of the city’s faith groups have previously echoed the warnings made by the authorities.
The Leicester Mercury passed the woman’s letter and a photograph of the suspect to trading standards earlier this year.
They have investigated her report, but are not aware of any complaints relating to his conduct.
However, a city council spokeswoman said: “That doesn’t mean he hasn’t been active in Leicester. It’s just that the people who tend to fall victim to these individuals are often ashamed to admit they’ve been duped or they’re reluctant to come forward with hard evidence.
“We suspect that these ‘healers’ are prevalent in certain communities, preying on people’s beliefs and superstitions and targeting those who may be ill or vulnerable.
“Our advice would be to never give money to them.”
Leicester City Council’s trading standards team monitors leaflets and business cards circulated in the city, as well as adverts in some foreign language papers.
Manager Ron Ruddock previously told the Leicester Mercury: “Many of the problems faith healers claim to be able to resolve cannot be measured for their success.
“If [their 'cures'] don’t work, they will give excuses or simply ask for more money to keep doing it.
"They may say it hasn’t worked because the customer didn’t believe in it enough.
“Faith healing is no more than an upfront fee scam but with a different front – it is a con that has been going on for hundreds of years in one form or another.
“This type of scam preys on the most vulnerable people, and will offer to cure diseases or to mend broken relationships.
“Anyone with health problems should visit their GP. We would be very worried about people relying on a faith healer instead of proper medical care.
“For example, a faith healer advertising that he or she can cure cancer is an offence under the Cancer Act 1939, and we would contact any healer offering that to explain the law to them.
“There are genuine organisations out there for people who need help with their health or any other aspects of their lives.
“Do not line the pockets of fraudsters who make false and empty promises.”
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