A South Florida woman claiming to be a psychic has been sentenced to federal prison along with her partner for orchestrating a "family curse, fortune telling and swindling a victim out of more than $3 million," prosecutors announced Thursday.
The fraud ran for several years and only ended after the victim could no longer afford to pay for money-cleansing rituals, the Department of Justice said.
Samantha Stevens, a self-professed spiritual consultant, was sentenced to two years and six months in prison in October. Michael Paul Guzman, was sentenced last month to three years and two months, according to court records. Both had pleaded guilty to money laundering in Miami federal court as part of a deal with prosecutors. Stevens, 51, and Guzman, 42, also agreed to pay nearly $3.2 million in restitution to the victim.
According to court documents, Stevens was portraying herself as a psychic and fortune teller in 2012 when she met a victim in Miami. Stevens gained the victim's trust and convinced her that a curse had been placed on her and her family.
"Stevens claimed she needed to perform rituals on large sums of money in order to lift the curse," prosecutors wrote. "Failure to do so—the victim was led to believe—would result in harm to her and her family."
Stevens and Guzman spent the victim's money on vehicles, property and casino gambling, officials said. The relationship between Stevens and the victim lasted until 2016, when Stevens cut off communication after the victim no longer could pay for the rituals. Once Stevens severed the relationship, the victim contacted federal law enforcement.
According to the Miami New Times, Stevens argued in court that the ceremonies she performed were an expression of her religion and the client "received exactly what she bargained for."
The judge was not persuaded.
This is not the first time self-proclaimed psychics have been sentenced to prison in Florida. In 2020, a woman and her daughter were sentenced for "defrauding two victims with their spiritual scams" and in 2019, a woman was reportedly sentenced to more than three years in prison for a "fortune telling" fraud scheme. In 2014, a South Florida woman who claimed to be a psychic with the ability to positively influence terminal cancer was in prison.
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