Federal prosecutors are predicting lengthy jail time for a group of South Florida fortune tellers and spiritual advisers who were arrested for bilking customers out of over $40 million, according to an indictment released Tuesday.
Ten Fort Lauderdale "psychic readers" are facing charges of mail fraud, wife fraud, conspiracy to commit mail fraud and wire fraud and money laundering conspiracy in the 61-count indictment following a multi-agency, multi-state investigation dubbed "Operation Crystal Ball."
Facing charges are Rose Marks, 60, Nancy Marks, 42, Cynthia Miller, 33, Rosie Marks, 36, Victoria Eli, 65, Vivian Marks, 21, Ricky Marks, 39, Michael Marks, 33, Donnie Eli, 38, and Peter Wolofsky, 84.
Rose Marks, Cynthia Miller, Rosie Marks, Vivian Marks, Michael Marks, and Donnie Eli were arrested Tuesday in Fort Lauderdale, according to the U.S. Attorney's Office for the Southern District of Florida. Nancy Marks and Ricky Marks were arrested in New York. Peter Wolofsky is expected to appear in court in West Palm Beach next week. Victoria Eli is still at large.
According to the indictment, the group advertised their services as fortune tellers, clairvoyants and spiritual advisers and told victims they could remove evil spirits or curses from their lives or their loved ones.
The phony fortune tellers used magic tricks and false statements to frighten the victims into giving them large amounts of money and other valuables, claiming they would cleanse them of evil spirits, according to the indictment.
Victims were told they'd face terrible consequences if they didn't hand over their valuables, including disease, hauntings and financial hardships, the indictment said.
Though the soothsayers promised to return the money once it was cleansed, they instead pocketed it to pay for personal expenses and their lifestyle, the indictment said.
Over a dozen victims were bilked out of over $40 million, according to the indictment.
Each count carries a maximum penalty of 20 years in prison, if convicted.