Sunnyvale, CA.- A supposed “psychic” is currently under arrest at a jail in South Florida and is waiting to be transported and sentenced in Santa Clara County, California for a psychic scam she played on an already superstitious woman who had just gotten divorced and was in a vulnerable state. The victim ended up losing over $800,000 over the period of ten years, the whole time believing that she was paying for protection against misfortune and voodoo curses.
Santa Clara County authorities issued an arrest warrant for the psychic, 33-year-old Peaches T. Miller, and not long after the warrant was issued, Broward County police in Florida arrested her. The arrest warrant was issued for suspicion of grand theft and extortion, accompanied by an “aggravated white collar crime” enhancement due to the fact that the amount she scammed from the victim exceeded half a million dollars. Miller will have a hearing on Thursday the 25th and if the court approves her extradition, it will be less than two weeks until she is transported to California.
Psychic scams have been rampant all over the nation, in cities such as Chicago, Boston, and New York, but it seems that San Francisco has a higher number of incidents than others. For example, just last year in San Francisco, scammers managed to bilk over $2 million dollars from victims in a string of cases. However, in those incidents, there were usually several people involved in the scamming and in the case of Miller, it appears that she was working alone and managed to get the same amount of money over a period of time as someone who is working as a team.
Cherie Bourlard is the deputy district attorney for the county of Santa Clara and she stated that people everywhere should use this incident as a warning if they are thinking about consulting a psychic or fortuneteller for non entertainment only purposes because this is just one of many psychic scams she has dealt with.
The court documents state that Miller’s Sunnyvale victim, who due to privacy issues chose to remain anonymous, had just gone through a nasty divorce in 2002 and was also having a custody battle over her daughter when she decided to respond to an ad she saw in the magazine India Abroad for psychic services by “Psychic Shanna”. She describes it as a moment of weakness.
The name Shanna is one that Miller made up and used for her psychic services.
The victim said that her decade long relationship with Miller began with a simple over the phone reading which cost her $175. She states that she got brainwashed by Miller and continued seeing her over the following days, which turned into weeks, which turned into months, and then ultimately turned into years. She states that Miller fooled her into believing that her ex-husband was afflicting her with voodoo curses and she made her believe that Miller was the only person who could save her from that.
Miller then allegedly tricked the victim into purchasing expensive materials needed to cure her; such as mirrors, tassels, tabernacles made of silver and gold and brought in from Spain and Italy. She told her that she needed these items in order to work the evil out of her life. The victim complied and she ended up spending about $838,390 on items and on Miller.
Aside from making the woman think that her ex-husband had curses on her, she also convinced her that he was abusing their daughter and that if she wanted to be granted full custody of the daughter and to be rid of the negative energy, she could not “question the Spirit in this work”.
The court documents state that from February 2002 to November 2010 the woman wired Miller money on a regular basis, amounts ranging from several thousand dollars up to $70,000. Miller promised her that the money was going to be returned to her after it is “blessed” and put in coffins. The victim was so brainwashed by Miller that she even took out home equity loans and extended her credit so that she could keep up with her mortgage.
“I was so thoroughly under Miller’s control that I didn’t make any decisions in my life without first obtaining her approval,” she stated. Miller even had a say in the victims’ decision to move to a new house.
“There’s a common thread of gaining a victim’s complete trust through carefully managed manipulation,” said Bourlard.
Miller continued the manipulation going when she demonstrated “good faith” to the victim by returning $15,000 to her when she was in heavy financial trouble. According to Bob Nygaard, the private investigator hired to help build the case against Miller, this “good faith” showing kept the scam going for even longer.
The gig was finally up when the victim got suspicious of Miller and hired Nygaard. She became suspicious when Miller decided to hire a lawyer so that he can set up a payment arrangement for the repayment of all her money. Nygaard believes that her doing that was a ploy to convert what would have been a criminal case into a civil matter. It is believed that Miller did all of this because she was aware of the fact that the victim’s daughter was reaching adult age and the custody battles would be ceasing soon; up until then, Miller had been using that to keep the victim coming back and spending more money.
“It’s more than $800,000. We could not just walk away from this case, we had to do something about it,” said Bourlard.