Kenner, LA. – A deceitful fortuneteller by the name of April Stevens told her client that “money is the root of all evil” right before she scammed $10,000 from her. In Stevens’ case, that old saying was true considering the amount of trouble she is now in because of her money greed. 20-year-old Stevens told the victim that she needed $10,000 so that it can get “cleansed” and a curse that she had on her could be expelled.
Kenner detectives arrested the Harahan native last week. According to the arrest records, she was charged with theft of $1,500 or more. The spokesman for the Kenner Police Department, Sgt. Brian McGregor, said that she is also being accused of keeping the “cleansed” money instead of returning it as she had promised to do.
The arrest reports also indicated that prior to being arrested, Stevens owned and operated a fortune-telling and psychic business in Kenner located at 3116 Williams Blvd. The victim, who wished to keep her identity hidden, told the detectives that she started visiting the psychic on a regular basis in July of 2012. The psychic told her that she was cursed and that this curse would continue to wreak havoc on her life if it was not removed. She even told her that if they don’t remove it, it could cause her a great illness and possibly even death.
The arrest report states that Stevens used age-old tricks and performed ritualistic ceremonies in order to persuade the victim that her life was in danger. Stevens was successful at convincing the woman that the only solution to her curse is to give her $10,000 so that she can take it to “the church” and cleanse it.
McGregor said that the agreement was to return the “cleansed” money to the woman after purification but after several months of not returning it, it was clear that Stevens wasn’t planning on giving it back.
The victim finally asked Stevens for her money back and was told that the cleansing process was not yet complete. After about six months, the victim finally demanded her money back, stating that she didn’t care if she was still cursed or not. At that point, Stevens gave her back part of her money- but only because the woman convinced her that she had an emergency expense that needed to be covered.
Even though the victim finally received some of her money, she decided to go ahead and report Stevens to the police. According to McGregor, Stevens was arrested for alleged theft of about $9,000.
She was jailed on February 28th and was being held at the Jefferson Parish Correctional Center but she was released the same day on a $5,000 bond. When reporters attempted to call her business phone number for more information, no one answered the call.
A lot of people are questioning why Stevens was arrested for theft when it is clear that the woman gave Stevens the money on her own free will. McGregor said that even though it was voluntarily handed over, Louisiana state theft laws state that it is considered theft when you take anything of value by fraudulent means, such as trickery, deceit, and threats.
“Here, you have an incident in which she was given something to hold, money, with the understanding that it will be returned. You fail to return the items when requested by the victim, thus permanently depriving them of their rightful property,” McGregor said.
Unfortunately, the city of Kenner is no stranger to psychics being arrested for fraud. Back in 2009, a self proclaimed psychic reader named Debra Marks was accused and arrested for taking $51,645 worth of money and jewelry from a different woman. Marks used the same “money cleansing” trick as Stevens and according to the Jefferson Parish court records, she was sentenced to five years of probation.
A relative of Debra Marks named Sonya Marks was also arrested in 2006 for swindling $30,000 from a family. Court records state that in 2007 she pleaded guilty to theft and was given six months of probation.
McGregor acknowledges that there are some psychics who take advantage of people with problems in their life. “They seek help and then are scammed out of money and or property,” he says.
Although they are not certain, Kenner detectives have reason to believe that there are other victims of Stevens’ and are urging them to contact the police department at 504-712-2200.