Sunnyvale, CA.- A supposed “psychic” is currently incarcerated in a South Florida jail for a psychic scam. She is waiting to be transported and sentenced in Santa Clara County, California.
The con artist 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 ten years. The whole time she believed 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. Not long after the warrant was issued, Broward County police in Florida arrested her. A judge issued the arrest warrant for suspicion of grand theft and extortion.
It was accompanied by an “aggravated white-collar crime” enhancement because the amount she scammed exceeded half a million dollars. Miller will have a hearing on Thursday the 25th. If the court approves her extradition, they will transport her to California in less than two weeks.
Psychic scams have been rampant all over the nation in cities such as Chicago, Boston, and New York. For some reason, it seems like San Francisco has a higher number of incidents than others. For example, just last year, scammers managed to con over $2 million from victims in a string of cases there.
However, there were usually several people involved in the scams in those cases. In Miller’s case, she was working alone, and somehow, she managed to steal equal amounts of money over the same period as those working with a team.
This Type Of Psychic Scam Can Happen To Anyone
Santa Clara Deputy District Attorney Cherie Bourlard hopes people everywhere use this incident as a warning if they’re considering consulting psychics or fortune-tellers. This case is just one of many psychic scams she’s dealt with in the span of her career.
Miller’s Sunnyvale victim chose to remain anonymous for privacy reasons. Court documents state she had just gone through a nasty divorce in 2002. She was also experiencing a custody battle over her daughter when she responded to an ad she saw for psychic services in India Abroad magazine.
These services were provided by a supposed psychic named “Psychic Shanna.” She describes the decision to reply to the ad as a moment of weakness. Miller made up and used the name Shanna for her psychic services.
The victim said that her decade-long relationship with Miller began with a simple over-the-phone reading that cost her $175. She states Miller brainwashed her and she continued seeing her over the following days These days turned into weeks, then months, then ultimately years.
She states that Miller fooled her into believing her ex-husband harmed her with voodoo curses. Miller also made her think she was the only one who could save her from these curses. Miller then allegedly tricked the victim into purchasing expensive materials to cure her.
She had her buy mirrors, tassels, and imported tabernacles made of silver and gold. She told her she needed these items to work the evil out of her life. The victim complied and ended up spending about $838,390 on tools and Miller’s “services.”
Her ex-husband cursing her wasn’t the only thing Miller convinced the victim of- she also made her believe he was abusing their daughter. She told her she couldn’t “question Spirit in this work” if she wanted to fix the situation with her ex.
The Scam Was Finally Brought To Light
Court documents state that from February 2002 to November 2010, the victim regularly wired money to Miller. The amounts ranged from several thousand dollars to $70,000. The scammer promised to return all the money after “blessing it” and putting it in coffins.
She had the victim so brainwashed that she took out home equity loans and extended her credit to 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,” the victim 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 by returning $15,000 to the victim and demonstrating “good faith.”
The woman told Miller she was having severe financial trouble, and Miller “helped her out” by giving her back some of her money. Bob Nygaard is a private investigator hired to help build the case against Miller. According to him, this “good faith” kept the scam going for longer.
The victim eventually became suspicious of Miller and hired Nygaard. She could tell something wasn’t right when Miller paid a lawyer to set up payment arrangements between her and Miller. Nygaard believes Miller did this as a ploy to convert what would have been a criminal case into a civil matter.
Investigators think Miller realized the victim’s daughter was reaching adult age, which would mean an end to the custody battles. Until then, Miller used this excuse 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.