With her eyes pinched shut, Priti Mahalanobis listened as a gong sounded near her right ear, then her left. A woman's voice chanted. Mahalanobis, 42, opened her eyes.

Peaches Stevens, in her late 20s with straw-blond hair and pouty lips, sat down across from her client in the Orlando office. With a knife, she slowly cut into a grapefruit that Mahalanobis had brought. The blade dipped into the fruit. A second perpendicular cut formed a cross shape.

As Stevens peeled the skin back, Mahalanobis gasped. Instead of juicy pink fruit, inside was a stringy black mass, like something hacked up from an animal's throat.

"The evil has made a home in your body," Stevens consoled her panicked guest. "Don't worry. I'm going to put this evil to rest."

Only a week earlier, in March 2010, Stevens had sailed into Mahalanobis' life with the junk mail. Flipping through a stack of coupons, Mahalanobis found an ad offering $20 psychic readings.

A prim, petite Indian woman with a husband and two children, she had been swirling with anxiety. Her sister was ill, her brother's marriage was ending, and the economy was threatening to sink her father's business. Mahalanobis herself was nervously preparing to cut the ribbon on her own Quiznos franchise. Stomach problems kept her in constant discomfort.

"I called the number," Mahalanobis recalls. "The appointment was for the next day."

The Meditation and Healing Center was located in a one-story house steps from the local police station. In their first meeting, a sympathetic listen was all it took to pick the lock on everything Mahalanobis had been holding in.

The psychic sensed negative energy. She said that for $200, she could hunt for answers through meditation. Mahalanobis agreed. As a Hindu, concepts of negative energy and meditation were familiar. "All her terminology was couched more to appeal to more people with Eastern belief systems and philosophies," Mahalanobis explains in retrospect.

But the recon from the other side was bad. The psychic informed Mahalanobis that before marrying her mother, Mahalanobis' father had been involved with another woman but rejected her. The scorned lady placed a curse on the family for three generations.

"It would affect us in the area of love, health, and money," Mahalanobis says. "Suddenly, it seemed to make sense."

With a master's degree in applied economics, Mahalanobis was trained to look for patterns in a mess of data. A curse sensibly wove together all the seemingly random bad news.

The curse could be proven, Stevens claimed. She told her client to go home and write the names of her extended family on a piece of paper. She would also need a $100 bill for each person and a grapefruit. That night, Mahalanobis placed her list — 11 people total — plus $1,100 in an envelope under her pillow as instructed. She put a grapefruit under her bed.

The next day, Mahalanobis was staring at the proof her family was cursed. They couldn't just toss the evil — which had been siphoned out of her body and into the grapefruit — in the dumpster. It would have to be put to rest in a golden tabernacle. The psychic could handle the work, but it would cost $19,000.

Mahalanobis hid and rationalized her actions. At the bank, pulling $1,000 in cash for the psychic, she noticed the teller counted out the bills in the shape of a cross — just as Stevens had cut the grapefruit. When Mahalanobis' side began to ache, it was just as Stevens had warned: Now that the evil had vacated her body, it would leave an emptiness. When she began to doubt Stevens, it was just the curse manifesting negative ideas.

The stress burned 20 pounds off her frame. Gray began creeping into her fine black hair. When friends asked why she looked ground up, she blamed the new business. But because she was rerouting its income to Stevens, her new Quiznos closed after only two months.

Three months in, Stevens had a revelation: Mahalanobis, not her father, was the root of the family curse. Seven lifetimes back, when she had been a man, she had caused much pain and suffering. The curse wouldn't let up now until seven golden tabernacles were constructed. This plot twist sent Mahalanobis scrambling for more money and rested new guilt on her shoulders. The karmic stain was on her.

Her life shrank to a single purpose — saving her family. She gave to protect the 11 lives that mattered most. The money couldn't leave her hands fast enough.

"What would I not give if it meant the freedom of my whole entire family?" she asks today. "At that point, if she had told me to give up my life, I probably would have done it."

One day, Mahalanobis' husband of 20 years asked why she'd spent $13,000 at a store called Zodiac Gallery. Mahalanobis cooked up a limp lie about buying herbal medicine for a sick friend. Her husband said she'd have to sell her gold jewelry to cover the debt. She'd already pawned it.

By December 2010, Mahalanobis could no longer handle the stress. On a Christmas trip to Arizona, she asked her father point-blank if he'd been with another woman before his marriage. The answer was a definite no.

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Exiliado topcommenter

What these fortune tellers A.K.A scammers do is despicable and disgusting, but some people need to grow up. Anyone who spends more than 50 cents on "psychic services" is just proving to be a gullible sucker. Gullible suckers usually end up being ripped off. It's in their nature.

frankd4 topcommenter


as for the BSO being any assistance in prosecuting frauds,  let me remind you that BSO was bought by SCOTT ROTHSTEIN, so because BSO is "for sale" and the biggest scammer used the ft lauderdale based LEOs to "serve and protect" HIM ....................... what do you expect of the BSO ?

its' the FOX gaurding the HEN house here in broward county

frankd4 topcommenter


i guess BERNIE MADOFF is the KING of all GYPSIES

...........a fool and his money is soon parted

whether its GAMBLING or SHOPPING or HOBBIES or RELIGION the money lost/spent/donated is typically IN EXCHANGE FOR something....and that something can simply be puffery

MADISON AVENUE ADVERTISING depends on puffery as do gypsies

desperate people will do desperate things and pissing MONEY away is the least of it, some commit suicide or do drugs or fall into the bottle or pursue other dangerous outlets, so going broke it low on the list HOWEVER despicable it is morally and ethically to dupe vulnerable people


No offense, but I happen to know Gypsies and not all are mystics, most in fact assimilate to whatever culture they're in and become a part of the most popular religion

And the Gypsies that use magic charge only $10 a reading. I know, I study with some of them.



I want to congratulate you on a very fascinating article.  It's hard to believe that fortune tellers can make so much money.  On The Twilight Zone many years ago, there was an episode about a couple who were in a diner, and at their table was a "fortune telling machine." After depositing a quarter, the machine would predict  the future..  At first, the couple thought this was fun, but as they kept depositing money, the machine told them very accurate things about their lives.  In the end, the couple could not leave the table.  The machine told them that if they did, they would die.  I saw that as a child, and it still haunts me.  Who knows, maybe the couple is still in the diner.




For the deep background on this story, read Jan Yoors' famous sociological study of the Rom called "The Gypsies." It's kind of old (1960s) but totally valid. 


Please explain to me how the Gypsies are different than the Catholic church? I don't see a bit of difference between the two other than Gypsies  don't molest little boys.

frankd4 topcommenter


being a GYPSIE designates an unwelcome and uninvited OUTSIDER and any inclusion signifies an illegitimate purpose - to EXCLUDE gypsies is cleansing

being a CATHOLIC means you have to be at the table in any major discussion for that purpose to be legitimate - to EXCLUDE catholics is typically illegal and socially questionable and not PC

frankd4 topcommenter


mystical faith-based organizations are the SAME in that they value continued survival including financial support from congregants and believers

the GYPSIEs take advantage of desperate people in a surreptitious way and makes people PAY to obtain their salvation

the CATHOLIC CHURCH uses the interpretations of text as a basis for its faith and salvation is earned by following a certain path and requests donations to continue funding the resources required to maintain the organization infastructure (until MARTIN LUTHER the CHURCH and GYPSIEs were similar in demanding MONEY to effect change (indulgences))

the GYPSIEs get people to FALL PREY while the CHURCH requires members to BE FAITHFUL


@Rabbi_Pedro_Goldstein Truth be told, all religions are nothing but superstition, designed to psychologically control the masses, and enrich those in charge

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