FORT LAUDERDALE, Fla., Aug. 17 (UPI) — Florida authorities say a family of fortunetellers is charged with fraud for allegedly swindling $40 million from desperate people who came to them for help.
Federal charges were filed against nine people running businesses in Fort Lauderdale, alleging that over two decades they defrauded people who came to them hoping for help to cure illnesses, change their luck or save a marriage, the South Florida Sun Sentinel reported Tuesday.
Beyond offering false hope, authorities said, the self-described psychics told victims they and their families would be cursed unless they handed over money and valuables, telling clients money was the “root of all evil.”
“Often times, 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,” an indictment reads. “The defendants never returned the money.”
Authorities say all nine suspects are related, either by blood or marriage.