A 37-year-old Indian man has been charged with pretending to practice witchcraft after police say a Brampton man was defrauded of more than $100,000 in a fake exorcism for an ill relative who was told they were the “victim of an evil spirit.”
Toronto police said an astrologer and psychic known as “Master Raghav,” who was living in Toronto but visiting from India, handed out his business cards at a mall in the west-end area of Rexdale in February and March.
Police said a 44-year-old Brampton man received one of the psychic’s cards advertising a wide variety of services and set up an appointment and was informed a “sick family member had been the victim of an evil spirit.”
“So actually it’s a lure,” Const. Jenifferjit Sidhu said. “He sets up an appointment and meets this man just for $20. That’s what the initial psychic reading is, is $20.”
Police said the man was convinced to withdraw $101,000 from the bank and provide it to the psychic in an attempt to”remove” the evil spirit and heal his relative.
Murali Muthyalu was arrested Wednesday and charged with extortion, fraud over $5,000 and pretending to practice witchcraft.
The Criminal Code defines the charge as anyone who “pretends to exercise or use any kind of witchcraft, sorcery, enchantment or conjuration.”
It also covers anyone who attempts to “tell fortunes” or pretends to have knowledge of “an occult or crafty science” to discover where something lost or stolen may be found.
Sidhu said the exorcism was not successful and the alleged victim then reported the incident to police.
“If it’s your family member you’ll do anything for them,” she said. “She is still sick, that’s safe to say. She was sick prior to and she’s still sick.”
Police are asking anyone who has had dealings with Muthyalu or his alias of Master Raghav to contact police at 416-808-5500 or Crime Stoppers anonymously at 416-222-TIPS (8477).