Fortune-teller family charged in huge scam

Aug. 17, 2011 at 3:25 PM
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FORT LAUDERDALE, Fla., Aug. 17 (UPI) -- A family of fortune tellers in Florida and New York has been charged with swindling $40 million from customers during the last 20 years, officials said.

For two decades, ABC News reported, the family allegedly has been telling customers seeking cures for illnesses that "money is the root of all evil."

An indictment released Tuesday said family members allegedly convinced customers to hand over huge amounts of money, jewelry and other assets that needed to be "purged" before they could be healed.

Allegedly fraudulent psychics performed Tarot card readings, palm reading, astrology readings, numerology readings and spiritual readings. The family "told clients that they and their family members or friends would contract terrible diseases, suffer horrible financial hardships, and endure terrible catastrophes, and that loved ones who were already sick would not recover, and that their lives would remain haunted by evil spirits if they did not cleanse their money of those evil spirits," the indictment alleged.

The family amassed a Florida home, a yacht and more than $1.8 million in gold coins, the indictment said, as well as 14 cars and two Harley Davidson motorcycles.

Florida relatives arrested Tuesday included Rose Marks, 60; Cynthia Miller, 33; Rosie Marks, 36; Vivian Marks, 21; Michael Marks 33; and Donnie Eli, 38.

In New York, Nancy Marks, 42, and Ricky Marks, 39, also were arrested.

ABC said police are still searching for family member Victoria Eli, 65, who lives in both Florida and New Jersey, and a co-conspirator named Peter Wolofsky, 84, has been arrested on a charge of laundering money on behalf of the family through his own business.

The indictment contains 61 counts and includes charges of conspiracy, mail fraud, wire fraud and money laundering, ABC reported.

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