TAMPA, Fla. (WFLA) — A pair who led a fortune-telling fraud scheme that collected millions of dollars was sentenced to prison, according to an announcement from the U.S. Attorney’s Office Southern District of Florida on Thursday.
Authorities said 42-year-old Michael Guzman, and 51-year-old Samantha Stevens were sentenced to 38 months and 30 months respectively for swindling more than $3 million out of a victim.
According to court documents, Stevens portrayed herself as a psychic/fortune teller in 2012 when she met a victim in Miami.
Prosecutors said Stevens gained the victim’s trust and convinced her a curse had been placed on her and her family. Stevens then claimed she needed to perform “rituals” on large sums of money in order to lift the curse.
If she didn’t perform the ritual, the victim was led to believe she and her family would be harmed.
The relationship between Stevens and the victim lasted several years allowing the fraudsters to spend the victim’s money on a variety of things from vehicles, to property, and casino gambling.
Authorities said the victim was persuaded to give up more than $3 million.
When the scheme came to an end in 2016 when Stevens cut off communication with the victim because she could no longer pay for the rituals. Once Stevens severed the relationship, the victim contacted federal law enforcement.
In addition to their prison sentences, the fraudsters were ordered to pay $3.198 million in restitution to the victim.