The next day, she told her family about the psychic. All told, Mahalanobis had handed over more than $130,000.

Sandy Williams nudged her car off West Glades Road in Boca Raton. Atop a beige strip of storefronts housing bath and flooring companies, the word "Psychic" was written in flashy script. Inside, Williams (who asked that her real name not be used) found a tall, 40ish, olive-skinned man in a suit and tie sitting on a couch.

"Come in, love," he purred.

Pat Kinsella
Pat Kinsella

It was September 2012, and Williams, a black-haired divorcée in her early 60s, had recently retired from teaching. Her father had also died. Unmoored, she was contemplating a move. A psychic might help her gauge her options.

The man introduced himself as "Trinity." Williams asked the price for a reading.

Eighty dollars.

The woman climbed back into her car, drove to an ATM, then returned with cash. Trinity next told Williams she needed to fetch a white rose to disperse negative energy. Again, the woman left and went to Publix.

She wasn't back long before Trinity dispatched her to the beach to fill half a bottle with ocean water. Back at his office, the psychic mixed oil into the bottle, then instructed Williams to shower with the solution in the shop's bathroom. Williams finally declined, halting the routine. But when she got home, she brought the oil into the shower.

The pair began meeting regularly, and the older woman stepped wherever Trinity pointed, like she was on autopilot. "I was numb to all of this that was going on," she says now. "I was doing something because he commanded [me] to do it."

On one visit, he sent her to the bank to withdraw $600. The psychic separated the bills into three stacks — for the past, present, and future — then tied red ribbons around each. Because money was the root of all evil, he commanded his client to take the cash home, place it in a white pillowcase, and throw pieces of paper with written phrases such as "free me" and "release me" inside.

Next, Trinity revealed that Williams' beloved dad was trapped in purgatory. The only way to spring him was through spiritual rituals. Although Williams had grown up in the Jewish faith — which doesn't even recognize the concept of purgatory — "it was comforting to know that I was going to help with getting him out," she says now. Over the next few months, Williams says, she funneled both large-scale bundles of cash and smaller increments in the form of gift cards.

In October, the pair drove to Boca's Town Center Mall. At Mayor's Jewelry, Trinity instructed Williams to purchase a $28,900 gold Rolex watch. By sacrificing it, they'd release her father. Trinity took the purchase home, telling Williams he'd either throw it in the sea or smash it with a hammer.

Williams worried that she was shoveling her life's savings to a bizarre stranger. When in Trinity's presence, however, the psychic dialed down her anxiety, always explaining that the pair was just about to "finish the work." But in October, Trinity delivered more bad news: She had cervical cancer. They must construct a gold shield inlaid with diamonds and rubies to keep Satan at bay.

By then, Williams estimates, she'd handed over more than $70,000. By mid-November, when she walked into the Boca Raton police station to file a report, she'd given the psychic another $70 grand. Williams was left with just $1,000.

In August 2009, 19-year-old Tamara Wilson (not her real name)stepped inside her shower and poured a jug of milk over her body.

A curvy woman with a rocky sea of stylish curls, she gave off a canny, no-bullshit attitude. Still, emotional doldrums were melting her down. She was living at home with her mother. After a string of bad grades, her college was close to pulling her financial aid. A hot-and-cold relationship was causing her heartache.

Also, she was wracked with body issues, wishing for one of the runway figures she watched parade through New York's fashion world — where she hoped to work one day. But those big life goals seemed to be pulling out of reach. "I was in a dark place in my life," she says. "When you're in a vulnerable state, you see everything as a possibility."

A search-engine cruise turned up the number for a free reading at A soft voice on the other end identified herself as Nadine. Wilson unloaded. The psychic detected a dark presence and felt Wilson's boyfriend was cheating. Rituals could help.

A skeptical Wilson demanded to meet the psychic in person. Nadine declined but said she could instead meet with a young psychic whom she'd personally trained.

At a house in Hollywood, Wilson met Hillarie, a 17-year-old blond cheerleader type draped in designer Seven jeans and Tory Burch sandals. The younger psychic channeled Nadine.

"You should already be in New York in fashion," she reported.

Those words were like a shot of heroin. Like beauty coaches and spiritual healers combined, the psychics promised to steer Wilson to her goal.

The initial consultation cost $400. As she handed over the money, a corner of Wilson's mind barked out in protest.

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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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