Mentor, OH- I wrote about the scamming ‘psychic’ named Gina Miller previously, Fraudulent Psychic Conned Victims Into Giving Her Cars, Cash, Jewelry For More Than 20 Years By Lying To Them And Scaring Them. Now that she has been arrested, more and more information about her despicable practices have been coming to light.
Take for example the case of the 47-year-old man from Chardon who desperately wanted to help his son and decided to walk into ‘Gina’s Psychic Studio’ back in 2000. Little did he know that this relationship he ended up developing with her would wind up costing him his leg, both literally AND figuratively!
The man’s son had been sent to prison and he wanted to anything he could to keep him safe in there. Miller told the victim, who is now 64, that she could do special “work” to keep his son safe, but that it would not be free or cheap.
Over the course of several years, Miller ended up taking more than $265,000 from him as she gained more and more control of his life. He even trusted her enough to drink a “special tea” from her homeland to control his diabetes instead of consulting a physician when she advised him to do that.
Unfortunately for him, this special tea did nothing to cure his diabetes and a few years later the victim became very ill and doctors in the emergency room ended up having to save his life by amputating his leg.
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 over the years. She would scare her customers by telling them that if they did not give her money, death, financial ruin and illness would come to them and their families.
The money that Miller scammed from them was used to provide herself with a lavish lifestyle. She bought herself luxury vehicles, jewelry, designer clothing, trips to Disney World, as well as embroidered fur coats. She was even able to convince her victims to lease expensive Cadillacs for her, threatening the safety of their loved ones if they did not comply.
Miller was scamming customers left and right for over 14 years, from mid 2001 until late 2015 and 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 issues that were delicate, and consciously take advantage of them,” said Lake County Prosecutor Charles Coulson. “It makes me feel certain she deserved every bit of the prison sentence that she received.”
Although there were several victims, it was hard to get interviews from them because, quite honestly, they were embarrassed. They were embarrassed at the huge emotional and financial loss they endured by putting their trust in 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 been seeing Miller at Gina’s Psychic Studio for about six months and had given her about $106,000.
The scamming psychic told the woman that she would need to pay Miller money to have her remove a curse that her sister and mother had placed on her. She made the woman afraid not to pay her by telling her that if she did not do so, her son would die in a car crash and her house would burn down.
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 police and that resulted in an open investigation that led to over a dozen other victims with similar stories; that they had been conned by Miller out of thousands of dollars.
During Miller’s sentencing hearing, Louis Carlozzi, her defense attorney, told the courtroom that she had been raised in Roma and that it was part of the traditionally nomadic ethnic group’s culture to tell fortunes, adding that she had been trained by her family to be a fortune teller since she was just three years old.
Prosecutors for Lake County objected to her attorney’s characterization however, and described her instead as a con artist Investigators learned that Miller took over a business that used to be run out of a small storefront by her partner’s mother and reopened it as Gina’s Psychic Studio over 20 years ago on Mentor Avenue.
Miller bought a three-bedroom house in Madison Township where she lived with her partner and two sons with the profits from her business.
When investigators contacted Miller’s partners’ brother, he described himself as a “gypsy”, which is another name for Roma. He also described himself as a “good gypsy” and said that Miller was 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 that they had very dark auras that needed to be corrected. More often than not, this “darkness” in their auras would be caused by a made up “curse” that could be lifted by her. She would tell them that in order to lift the curse, she would have to do what she referred to as “the work” and that it would be expensive.
When asked by detectives what “the work” entailed, none of the victims were able to describe it because they never saw it happening. They later realized that she never actually did anything like what she promised.
She would put the pressure on her clients by insisting that “the work” had to be done immediately in order for it to be effective and that if they waited, the consequences would be dreadful. She would make the clients pay several hundred dollars for crystals that they were to carry with them in order to improve their fortune. Over time, her demands grew to where she was asking them for thousands of dollars and really expensive items. This would continue until the customer would be financially broke.
The expensive items that she would ask for included 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.
Miller could tell when a client did not have the funds to pay for her “work” so she would avoid them when they sought her assistance. She would also abandon and avoid her paying clients when she got what she wanted from them and they no longer had more to offer.
When they began their investigation, the Lake County Prosecutor’s Office hired a private investigator who specializes in fraudulent psychic scams named Bob Nygaard to look in to Miller. Nygaard discovered that Miller would use careful psychological manipulation to attract clients who were “highly susceptible to her nefarious schemes to defraud.”
In a report that he wrote for the prosecutor’s office, Nygaard wrote that “Miller pretended to be a confidante and friend to her victims. But what she was all along was 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 that she could maintain influence over them.
Another one of Miller’s victims was a woman from Eastlake who met Miller for the first time when she was grieving her father’s death and looking to find her missing cat. The woman is now 50 years old but the statement does not specify when she began seeing the scamming psychic.
Miller promised the woman that she would help her find her cat and charged her $50. It just so happened that the cat returned home on its own that same night.
“She had me, in 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 ended up paying Miller roughly $3,700. She was frightened by Miller’s gloomy predictions and it wasn’t hard to convince her to perform rituals. For example, at some point during 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 not being able to pay her anymore, Miller would make her feel guilty by asking her if she was “too cheap to save her children’s lives”.
A woman from Painesville who investigators listed in their report as a confidential informant stated that over the course of 20 years, she gave Miller about $344,000.
She had just 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 ever stopped paying her for “the work”. Among these predictions were that her father would die of prostate cancer, her grandson would die, and that 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 and Miller even got the woman to purchase two expensive watches and furniture for her, as well as lease two cars for her, one of which was a 2015 Cadillac Escalade.
“She told me that she had to have [the money] or tragedy would strike my family- my kids and grandkids,” she told investigators.
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 purgatory because the woman’s ex-husband was supposedly in a cult cast and he cast spells on her and her family,
She was told by Miller that if she paid her $8,200, Miller would be able to help her mother’s soul pass on from purgatory by performing work.
In her statement to investigator’s, 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 also told the victim that there was a darkness in her life that needed to be removed or else she would die.
In order to convince the woman to buy her a $7,800 Rolex, Miller told the woman that “her timing was off” and that was the only way to fix the issue.
By the time everything was all said and done, the woman ended up being ripped off for more than $200,000 and two houses, according to what she told investigators. The only thing the victim ever received from Miller in return was two colorful candles designed to “cleanse the darkness” surrounding her.
These are just a few of the victims that Miller conned over the course of two decades. There are many others though, they include:
A Russian man who lost his wife to cancer in 2011 and went to Miller so she could find him a Russian bride. She told him he was cursed and charged him $142,000, along with getting him to buy her an $8,700 Rolex because again, her “timing was off”.
A mother of a son in the Air Force who saw Miller in 2001 and was told by her that he was in grave danger at the hands of the US Air Force and that if she wanted to save him she’d have to keep paying her. Over the course of fifteen years, she ended up losing her house, several hundred thousand dollars, and even drained her 401k. 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 so that she could get to work.
A woman from Concord Township who paid Miller over $548,000 after she told her that her long-lost German relatives placed a deadly curse on her. This woman had been a customer of the previous psychic shop owner, which was Miller’s partners’ mother, and just continued going to the shop when Miller took over.
When the Mentor Police Department received their first complaint, they began investigating the psychic shop. They had an Ohio Bureau of Criminal Investigation agent go undercover as a prospective client so that they could get first hand 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.
Originally, Miller faced over two dozen charges relating to the scam but she plead guilty to one count of aggravated theft which is a second-degree felony punishable by up to eight years in prison.
During her sentencing on April 27th, Miller said that she regretted her actions.
“I would just ask that you give me mercy,” she plead to Judge Vincent A. Culotta.
Lake County prosecutor Coulson said that he 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 in order to protect the people they love,” he said.