Florida Fortune Telling Family Allegedly Swindled $40 Million from Victims

Fortune tellers allegedly told victims money, jewels needed to be 'cleansed.'

ByABC News
August 17, 2011, 11:34 AM

Aug. 17, 2011 — -- Misfortune has fallen upon a family of fortune tellers in Florida and New York who have been charged with swindling $40 million over the past 20 years from customers looking to cure illnesses, end spells of bad luck or mend broken relationships.

Since 1991, the family has been telling customers that "money is the root of all evil," according to an indictment released Tuesday, convincing people to hand over huge sums of money, jewelry and other valuables that needed to be "purged" before being returned.

And for 20 years, the alleged scheme worked.

The indictment claims the family amassed a Florida home, a yacht and over $1.8 million in gold coins. The rundown also identifies 14 cars—including four Mercedes Benz, a BMW, a Rolls Royce and a Bentley. Two Harley Davidson motorcycles were also part of the loot list.

Fortune Telling Fraud Netted $40 Million, Cops Charge

The Florida relatives arrested Tuesday were 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, were arrested on Tuesday.

Police, who dubbed their investigation "Operation Crystal Ball," are still searching for family member Victoria Eli, 65, who lives in both Florida and New Jersey. A co-conspirator named Peter Wolofsky, 84, was also arrested. Wolofsky was charged with laundering money on behalf of the family through his own business.

The family members are all related either by blood or marriage and many used false names in their practices.

The 61-count indictment includes charges of conspiracy, mail fraud, wire fraud and money laundering.

The allegedly fraudulent psychics performed Tarot card readings, palm reading, astrology readings, numerology readings and spiritual readings.

The indictment alleges that 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."