A self-proclaimed fortune teller in Florida has been sentenced to three and a half years in prison and ordered to repay $1.6 million after concocting a “fortune telling” fraud scheme in which she convinced a Houston woman that her family was cursed, federal authorities say.
Sherry Tina Uwanawich, 28, scammed a Houston woman, identified only as “V.G.” in court papers. She reportedly met the woman in 2007 and said she was “a psychic/fortune teller”, according to court papers.
Uwanawich was sentenced last week to 40 months in prison by U.S. District Judge Rodolfo A. Ruiz, according to a statement on Monday by the U.S. Attorney’s Office for Southern District of Florida.
“Uwanawich gained the trust of the victim and convinced her that a curse had been placed on her and her family,” according to a statement made by federal prosecutors earlier this week.
“The defendant claimed she needed large sums of money to purchase items, such as crystals, candles and the like, which were needed for meditation work in order to lift the curse. Failure to do so, the victim was led to believe, would result in harm to her and family.”
The scammer enriched “herself by obtaining money, jewelry, and other valuables based on false pretenses” as she “representing herself to have God-given powers that enabled her to help people afflicted with curses,” according a grand jury indictment.
The victim was talked into making direct deposits into Uwanawich’s bank accounts and the con artist also received money in Western Union wire transfers, the indictment said.
“The defendant would instruct the victim not to talk about or tell others about their meetings or the large sums of money that the victim was furnishing to the defendant, claiming that this would ruin the ‘work,’ ” according to the indictment.
Uwanawich, who also went by the names “Jacqueline” or “Jacklyn Miller,” pleaded guilty to wire fraud and was sentenced to 40 months behind bars by U.S. District Judge Rodolfo A. Ruiz, prosecutors said. She also must pay restitution.
The scheme ended in 2014 when Uwanawich told her mark there had never been an actual curse, according to the report.