The suspects used scare tactics to get victims to deposit their money and valuables for cleansing, which they claim never got back.
By H. Nelson Goodson
August 21, 2011
Fort Lauderdale – On Tuesday, ten members of a gypsy family were indicted by the Southern Florida District U.S. Attorney’s Office for operating an elaborate scheme to scam victims by using scare tactics that included financial hardships, illness, evil spirits and hauntings, according to the federal indictment. On Friday, eight suspects appeared in federal court for pre-trial and were charged in a 61-count indictment for conspiracy to commit fraud, mail fraud, wire fraud, money laundering and others charges. If convicted, the suspects face up to 20 years in federal prison for each count.
The federal investigation began with a complaint from a victim who lost $3,000 in 2007 and the suspects eventually scammed $40 million from more than a dozen victims. The federal investigation involved the Secret Service, Internal Revenue Service, local police and called it “Operation Crystal Ball.” The suspects used media outlets to advertise their services as spiritual advisers, fortune tellers and psyhic readers.
The Sun Sentinel Newspaper reported that one of the victims was Jude Deveraux, author of dozens of New York Times bestseller books who was scammed for $20 million. Another victim was from Japan who turned over $496,000 to the suspects.
The suspects convinced the victims to give them their jewelry, money and other valuables to be cleanse from evil spirits and promised to return the valuables back once they were cleansed. If the victims failed to get their valuables cleansed, they could face consequences from evil spirits and family members would get ill. Instead, the suspects used the money to financed their life styles.
Those indicted were Michael Marks, 33, Nancy Marks, 42, Ricky Marks, 39, Rose Marks, 60, Rosie Marks, 36, Vivian Marks, 21, Donnie Eli, 38, Victoria Eli, 65, Cynthia Miller, 33, and Peter Wolofsky, 84.
Wolofsky is scheduled to appear in a West Palm Beach court next week, Nancy and Ricky Marks were arrested in New York, a federal warrant has been issued for Victoria Eli who remains at large and the rest of the suspects were taken into custody in Fort Lauderdale on Tuesday by the feds.
Federal indictment against the 10 suspects (PDF) http://1.usa.gov/mWwOCK
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