Mentor, OH- I previously wrote about a scamming ‘psychic’ named Gina Miller. Read Scamming Psychic Gina Miller Conned Clients By Lying To Them. Now that police have arrested her, more and more information about her despicable practices has come to light. Take, for example, the case of the 47-year-old man from Chardon.
He desperately wanted to help his son and walked into ‘Gina’s Psychic Studio in 2000. Little did he know that this relationship he developed with her would cost him his leg, both literally AND figuratively! The man’s son was in prison, and he wanted to do anything he could to keep him safe while there. Miller told the victim, now 64, that she could do special “work” to keep his son safe but that it would not be free or cheap.
Over several years, Miller took over $265,000 from him as she gained more control over his life. He even trusted her enough to drink a “special tea” from her homeland to control his diabetes. He listened to her instead of consulting a physician when she advised him to do that. Unfortunately for him, this special tea did nothing to cure his diabetes. The victim became very ill a few years later, and doctors in the emergency room had to amputate his leg to save his life.
Miller Bought Herself A Nice Life With Victim’s Money
He was just one of over a dozen victims whose vulnerabilities and fears Miller preyed on. Combined, she scammed her clients for more than $1.4 million. She would scare her customers by telling them that death, financial ruin, and illness would come to them and their families if they didn’t give her money. Miller used the money she scammed from her victims on a lavish lifestyle for herself.
She bought herself luxury vehicles, jewelry, designer clothing, trips to Disney World, and embroidered fur coats. She even convinced her victims to lease expensive Cadillacs for her, threatening the safety of their loved ones if they didn’t comply. Miller was scamming customers left and right for over 14 years, from mid-2001 until late 2015. For this, a judge sentenced her to eight years in prison on April 27th of this year.
“When I first saw the police report, I was appalled at how [Miller] could take these people, who had delicate issues, and consciously take advantage of them,” said Lake County Prosecutor Charles Coulson. It makes me feel certain she deserved every bit of her prison sentence.” Despite numerous victims, it was hard to get interviews with them because, quite honestly, they were embarrassed. They were embarrassed at the enormous emotional and financial loss they endured by trusting Miller.
Victim Decides To Tell Police About Miller
The investigation into Miller began on March 30th, 2015, when a woman from Concord Township called the Mentor Police Department to report that a psychic reader had scammed her. The now 72-year-old woman had seen Miller at Gina’s Psychic Studio for six months, giving her about $106,000. The scamming psychic told the woman she would need to pay her to have a curse that her sister and mother had placed on her removed.
She made the woman afraid not to pay her by telling her that her son would die in a car crash and her house would burn down if she did not do so. The woman kept her visits with Miller a secret, and her husband only found out after finding a tax statement for an IRA withdrawal in the mailbox. The woman then reported her to the police, and detectives opened an investigation. The investigation led to over a dozen other victims with similar stories.
They all said Miller conned them out of thousands of dollars. Louis Carlozzi was Miller’s defense attorney. During the sentencing hearing, he told the courtroom that Miller was from Roma and that it was part of the traditionally nomadic ethnic group’s culture to tell fortunes. He stated that her family had trained her to be a fortune teller since she was three. However, prosecutors for Lake County objected to her attorney’s characterization. Instead, they described her as a con artist.
How Did Miller Get Her Start?
Investigators learned that Miller took over a business that used to be run out of a small storefront by her mother-in-law. She reopened it as Gina’s Psychic Studio over 20 years ago on Mentor Avenue. Miller lived with her partner and sons at the house she bought in Madison Township with profits from her business. When investigators contacted Miller’s partner’s brother, he described himself as a “gypsy,” another name for Roma.
He also described himself as a “good gypsy” and Miller as a “bad gypsy” who “scammed little old ladies out of money.” In their report, detectives said that Miller was able to run her scam by targeting clients at the “lowest of low in their lives and desperate for answers.” She would tell them they had very dark auras that needed correcting. This “darkness” in their auras was due to a made-up “curse” that she could supposedly lift.
She would tell them she would have to do what she called “the work” to lift the curse but that it would be expensive. When asked by detectives what “the work” entailed, none of the victims could describe it because they had never witnessed anything. They later realized that she never actually did anything like what she promised.
She would pressure her clients by insisting that she had to do “the work” immediately for it to be effective. Miller told them that if they waited, the consequences would be dreadful. She would charge the clients several hundred dollars for crystals to supposedly improve their fortune. Over time, her demands grew to ask them for thousands of dollars and costly items. This pattern would continue until the customer was financially broke.
Private Investigator Bob Nygaard Steps In
A diamond ring, kitchen furniture, Rolex watches, nine cellphones, a 40-inch flat-screen television, Chanel and Louis Vuitton handbags, a Corvette, and two Cadillacs are some expensive items she requested from her clients. Miller could tell when a client wouldn’t have the funds to pay for her “work” and avoided them. She didn’t consult with them when they sought her assistance.
She would also abandon and avoid paying clients when she took everything from them, and they had nothing left to give her. When they began their investigation, the Lake County Prosecutor’s Office hired a private investigator. This PI was Bob Nygaard, and he specializes in fraudulent psychic scams.
Nygaard discovered that Miller would use careful psychological manipulation to attract clients “highly susceptible to her nefarious schemes to defraud.” In a report for the prosecutor’s office, Nygaard wrote, “Miller pretended to be a confidante and friend to her victims. But she was all along a wolf in sheep’s clothing, preying upon the vulnerabilities of her fellow human beings and financially exploiting them.”
Nygaard concluded his report by saying that Miller developed a false sense of hope in clients who turned to her during times of struggle. She made it her goal to isolate them from their friends and family so she could maintain influence over them.
Miller Hooks Client Then Takes Advantage Of Her
Another one of Miller’s victims was a woman from Eastlake. She met Miller for the first time while grieving her father’s death and looking for her missing cat. The woman is 50 now, but the statement doesn’t specify when she began seeing the scamming psychic. Miller promised the woman she would help her find her cat and charged her $50.
It just so happened that the cat returned home that same night. “She had me, at that moment, in her hands,” the woman wrote in the statement to investigators. “I was totally believing her.” Over the next several months, the woman paid Miller roughly $3,700. She was frightened by Miller’s gloomy predictions, and convincing her to perform rituals wasn’t hard.
For example, during one of their visits, Miller convinced the woman to dig graves in her backyard and bury figures made of wax that were supposed to represent her children and husband. If the woman complained about being unable to pay her anymore, Miller would make her feel guilty by asking her if she was “too cheap to save her children’s lives.”
Victim Speaks Up About Being Blackmailed By Miller
A woman from Painesville, who investigators listed in their report as a confidential informant, stated that over 20 years, she gave Miller about $344,000. She finalized her divorce in April of 1999 when she met Miller. Miller told her that for less than $200, she could help her find a new partner. In her statement, the woman wrote, “That began years of continuous blackmail for more money.”
She told investigators that Miller would threaten her with sinister predictions if she stopped paying her for “the work.” Among these predictions were that her father would die of prostate cancer, her grandson would die, and her ex-husband would die in a motorcycle crash. According to prosecutors, the scare tactics worked.
Over the years, the payments added up to extremely high amounts. Miller even got the woman to purchase two expensive watches and furniture and lease two cars for her, including a 2015 Cadillac Escalade. “She told me she had to have [the money] or tragedy would strike my kids and grandkids,” she told investigators.
Victim Is Told Her Mother Is In Purgatory And Miller Can Help Her
A different woman from Willoughby met Miller in 2010. Her 82-year-old mother had just passed away, and Miller told her that her mother’s soul was in limbo because the woman’s ex-husband was supposedly in a cult, and he cast spells on her and her family. Miller told her that if she paid $8,200, she could help her mother’s soul pass on from purgatory by performing work.
In her statement to investigators, the woman wrote- “She [made] me put the money in my right hand and say, ‘let this money be used to help my mother.’” She told the victim that she must remove a darkness in her life or she would die. To convince the woman to buy her a $7,800 Rolex, Miller told her that “her timing was off” and a new Rolex was the only way to fix the issue.
According to what she told investigators, Miller ended up ripping the woman off for more than $200,000 and two houses by the time everything was all said and done. The only thing the victim ever received from Miller was two colorful candles designed to “cleanse the darkness” surrounding her.
Miller’s Victim List Grows Longer
These are just a few of Miller’s victims over two decades. There are many others, though, including a Russian man who lost his wife to cancer in 2011 and went to Miller for help finding a wife. She told him he was cursed, charged him $142,000, and got him to buy her an $8,700 Rolex because his “timing was also off.”
Then there’s the mother of a son in the Air Force who saw her in 2001. Miller told her that her son was in grave danger at the hands of the US Air Force. She told her she’d have to keep paying her if she wanted to save him. Over fifteen years, the mother lost her house and several hundred thousand dollars and even drained her 401k for Miller.
She bought Miller a Harley Davidson motorcycle and leased a 2004 Cadillac Deville and a 2015 Cadillac ATS for her. The victim was so broke that she began living on tuna, eggs, and peanut butter. She also stopped driving her car as much because she needed to conserve gas to get to work.
Lastly, the woman from Concord Township paid Miller over $548,000. Miller told her that her long-lost German relatives had placed a deadly curse on her. She had been a customer of Miller’s mother-in-law and continued going to the shop when Miller took over.
Miller Gets Her Day In Court
When the Mentor Police Department received their first complaint, they began investigating the psychic shop. An Ohio Bureau of Criminal Investigation agent went undercover as a prospective client to get firsthand evidence of Miller’s tactics. Detectives discovered expensive brand-name clothing, shoes, purses, and other items in Miller’s house during a 2015 raid. They also raided her psychic studio and found more evidence.
Initially, Miller faced over two dozen charges relating to the scam. However, she pleaded guilty to one count of aggravated theft, a felony punishable by up to eight years in prison. During her sentencing on April 27th, Miller said she regretted her actions. “I would just ask that you give me mercy,” she pleaded to Judge Vincent A. Culotta.
Lake County prosecutor Coulson agreed with Judge Culotta’s sentence of eight years in prison, the maximum sentence possible. “This was a conscious, deliberate use of psychology against these people. She convinced them they needed to give her money to protect the people they love,” he said.