As crystals, horoscopes, and other associated wellness frauds to make people feel better about their lives keep popping up, so do scammers who want to weaponize them. Last year a New York City fortune teller was arrested after conning a man out of $800,000, while another in Maryland swindled more than $300,000 from clients. But nothing compares to Sherry Tina Uwanawich, a fake psychic from Florida who now must repay $1.6 million to a woman who she convinced was cursed.
The New York Times reports that Uwanawich met the woman, an anonymous 27-year-old medical student, in a Houston mall in 2007. After giving her a psychic reading, she convinced the student her entire family was cursed. Over a seven-year period the psychic charged the student money for meditation materials, crystals, and candles, all needed to lift this apparent curse.
The victim used money and forms of payment like student loans, gift cards, clothing, a car, and even money from her father’s inheritance, the Houston Chronicle reports, giving Uwanawich hundreds and thousands of dollars over the years. In 2014, Uwanawich finally told the victim that she was faking it the entire time and said she wanted to repay the money. When she didn’t, the woman reached out to an investigator, who took it to the sheriffs office. Now, Uwanawich must pay $1.6 million in restitution and serve 40 months in prison.
Lemme just look at that number again.
Yup, still $1.6 million. $1.6 million!!!
The next time an innocent palm reader strikes up conversation, consider running away.