A 27-year-old Toronto woman faced allegations of witchcraft after police said she convinced a man to give her more than $600,000 by promising she could ward off "evil spirits," police in Canada said.
Samantha Stevenson faced charges of "pretending to practise witchcraft," fraud and possession of property obtained by a crime, York Regional Police said in a statement posted on Facebook.
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Police began an investigation nearly a year ago after the victim, 67, told them a psychic using the name Evanna Lopez "convinced him that to rid himself of evil spirits in his home he had to sell the house and transfer the money to her account, where she would hold it until the spirits were removed," police said in Thursday's statement.
"The suspect did not return the money and instead told the victim she needed an additional $6,000, which she would burn, in order to ward off the spirits," police said. "The victim sold his car to comply with her instruction and used credit and other sources to pay for several additional demands for money."
The man, whose name was not released, said the alleged fraud took place during a recent four-year span.
York authorities said the allegation of witchcraft is not based on religious affiliation but rather "specifically deals with individuals who fraudulently portray themselves as having fortune-telling abilities or pretend to use witchcraft, sorcery, enchantment or conjuration in order to obtain money or valuables from a victim."
Similar scams, police said, have been making the rounds.
"The suspects typically warn the victim that they are surrounded by evil spirits and that a family member will die very soon if the spirits are not removed," York Regional Police said. "In some cases, the suspects ask for payment in large amounts or advise the victim that they must bless their valuables by obtaining all the cash and jewelry the victims own."