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Sunday, September 23, 2012

In the News: Woman Falls Prey To Tarot Card Scam

"You do realize what the Queen of Cups stands for in the upside down position, don't you?"
------------James Bond, Live and Let Die

BAKERSFIELD, Calif. (KBAK/KBFX) — A Bakersfield woman admits she fell for a scam that has become somewhat common in immigrant communities, such as Lamont.

A tarot card reader convinced Claudia Mendoza to turn over $5,000 to him so he could "cleanse and bless" the money in order to ensure her success in a new business.

Mendoza says she saved the money to start a small business, such as a catering truck. She obtained a business card of Spiritual Center Botanica San Judas Tadeo, which advertises spiritual cleansing, love spells and other services to heal the soul.

Wanting to know if her business venture would be successful, Mendoza paid a visit to the business, located at a home on the 82000 block of Lana Street in Lamont. And Mendoza only knew the card reader as "don Luis."

"He impressed me, because of all the stuff he told me," says Mendoza.

The card reader was a smooth talker, says Mendoza. He was joined by his pregnant wife, and they had several children in the home. Eventually, don Luis convinced Mendoza to turn over her $5,000 to him so he could "cleanse and bless" the money to ensure her financial success.

During the time he kept the money, Mendoza says don Luis would call and assure Mendoza that everything was fine. He called Mendoza on a Saturday and told her she could pick up her money the next day.

But, when Mendoza called don Luis the next day, the call went directly to voice mail. She tried several more times with no success.

"I got a really bad feeling," says Mendoza.

Her fear was well-founded. When she arrived at the home on Lana Street, the place had been abandoned. A neighbor told Mendoza several other people had come by recently looking for the don Luis, and they too, said he owed them money.

Mendoza searched the property and found utility bills with the name
"Jose Avila" listed on a Direct TV cable bill, along with an AT&T bill. The phone number on the AT&T bill matched the phone number on the Spiritual Center business card.

The owner of the home, Manuel Soto, says he, too, never asked for his renter's full name. Soto says his renter was anxious to move in and paid a deposit, even though Soto had not yet completed work on the house.

"He left without notice and still owes me half the rent," says Soto.

The Kern County Sheriff's Office took a report from Mendoza and is investigating.

Mendoza says she now realizes her mistake and is embarrassed over being duped by such a scheme. But, she says she decided to speak out because she feels there are other victims out there.

"They don't want to come forward, they just let it go, and he's going to keep doing it," says Mendoza.


COMMENTARY:  This is an example of a very old scam that gives all readers and workers a bad name. Typically a person comes in for a reading at a fair price. However, during the reading they may be told that  that either they are cursed or a dark spirit is attached to them blocking their success, souring their relationships, keeping them from holding on to money, etc... The reader will offer to burn candles to overcome the curse, for a fee,  and the client is asked to return in a weeks time to for a follow up session. 

When the client returns, he or she is often told that the condition is worse than expected and that the client will have to purchase more candles upfront to have them burned on their behalf. In other instances, the reader will convince the client that their money is curse and needs to be cleansed or blessed in order to remove the curse. Clients are often convinced to close out all their banks accounts and hand over all their cash, bonds, jewelry, etc.... with the belief that these items will be returned after they have been cleansed. As in the case above, the client often finds out too late that they have been duped. Either the money has been switched with cut up newspaper or the reader disappears all together. In most cases, people are often too ashamed or embarrassed to report the crime. 

Folks don't let this happen to you. Always check out your psychic reader as much as possible. Most readers will be happy to offer you references upon request. A fraudulent reader does not like to be questioned or second guessed in any way. In fact, they will often claim that your doubts and resistance blocks them from helping. Once they see that you are not an easy mark, they will try to get rid of you as quickly as possible.  A real worker will not "upsell" you or try to get you to do anything that makes you uncomfortable.  If something doesn't seem right, then it probably isn't. For more information about how you can protect yourself, refer to the links below. 

Happy Hoodoo-ing.


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