EDMONTON — Fortune tellers who claim they can ward off witchcraft and black magic are appearing in the Edmonton Police Service’s crystal ball.
Investigators have been getting complaints since April about bogus psychic readers and astrologers who have duped thousands of dollars out of their victims.
“It is difficult to track these alleged fraudsters,” explained Const. Harpreet Jhinjar, Edmonton Police Service. Police said such criminals often have visas and disappear quickly.
People have paid between $2,000 and $15,000 to these self-proclaimed fortune tellers, police said. In one case, a family paid $85,000 to fraudsters who then fled the country.
Edmonton police and the Canada Border Service Agency are working together to find and deport other scammers. There have been similar frauds in other cities including Toronto, Vancouver, Calgary, Winnipeg and Saskatoon.
Investigators explained people occasionally seek out astrologers and psychics to help with family and business issues, which then makes victims hesitant to go to police after being scammed.
“You do not have to feel embarrassed. These fraudsters are experienced and have stolen money from a lot of people,” said Const. Jhinjar.
“If you have been scammed, it’s important to report the incident to police immediately so there is a higher chance of locating the suspects.”
Signs of astrology and psychic fraud:
- Unrealistic promises to solve personal and financial problems.
- Request for a small amount of money upfront for performing healing rituals.
- Gain your confidence and present a plan requiring thousands of dollars as offerings (for prayers, chain of rituals etc.).
- Claim to remove “black magic and/or witchcraft.”
Anyone with information about this fraud is asked to contact the Edmonton Police Service at 780-423-4567 or #377 from a mobile phone. Anonymous information can also be submitted to Crime Stoppers at 1-800-222-8477 or online at www.tipsubmit.com/start.htm.
With files from The Canadian Press