A mother and daughter joined forces in Florida to con a Boynton woman out of her life’s savings. They convinced her that she needed to pay them to remove a curse. The duo convinced the victim that an abusive ex-husband had cursed her money and that she needed to hand it over to them so they could remove the evil spirits from it.
The 62-year-old woman trusted the duo and gave them over $1.4 million before realizing they had conned her. “They fed on my vulnerabilities like psychological terrorists,” the woman told a federal judge on January 17th in court. She is being identified as Ms. O for the time being. “They have put me in a state of destitution from which I will never recover,” she added.
The psychic scam pulled by the mother-daughter duo is commonly used by frauds who pretend to be genuine psychics. Unfortunately, it has worked to trick thousands of victims throughout the years. It also gives legitimate psychics a bad name and reputation. This bad reputation is a shame as there are authentic psychics who are gifted with unique abilities and who can shed light on important issues.
Unfortunately, these scams are hard to prove, and the justice system either ignores them or doesn’t consider them serious. However, thanks to the work of people like private investigator Bob Nygaard, more psychic scammers are getting arrested and sentenced. Such is the case for 74-year-old Annie Vwanawick and her daughter, 44-year-old April Miller. A South Florida federal court sentenced them for similar psychic crimes.
The Scammers’ Excuses Didn’t Faze The Judge
The scamming duo requested that the judge let them stay out of jail to raise money and repay Ms. O and a man from Boca Raton whom they conned $9,000 in a similar scam. The judge, U.S. District Judge Kenneth Marra, denied their request and ordered that they serve prison time for their crime. The women’s defense attorneys, Melanie Malave and James Lewis, claimed they were part of a large, far-spread gypsy culture that forced them to become fortune-tellers.
According to the attorneys, the women’s families would’ve exiled them if they had refused to carry on the family business. This claim did not affect Judge Marra’s decision, and the women’s pleas for mercy did not faze him. “Can you basically steal $1.5 million from someone and get a non-incarcerative sentence?” Judge Marra asked the women. “Would that promote respect for the law? Is that just punishment?” He answered his question by saying, “I don’t think so,” and passed down his sentence.
He sentenced Vwanawick, who also goes by Grace Uwanawich, to a 3.5-year sentence. I found out Vwanawick has been arrested for similar fortune-telling scams as far back as the 70s. He sentenced the daughter to two years, and they were both ordered to report to prison on March 23rd, 2020. Ms. O had previously asked the judge to lock the mother and daughter up for 20 years. She was disappointed in the sentence they received, feeling it wasn’t nearly enough punishment for what they did to her.
“I will be the one sentenced to live out the rest of my life in poverty because of what they’ve done to me.”
The Mother-Daughter Team Play The Same Trick On All Victims
Nygaard agreed the punishment was insufficient. He’s brought down his fair share of scamming psychics and is very interested in the justice aspect of the crimes. “This crime will never stop unless you take the incentive out of it. This sentence doesn’t deter crime,” Nygaard said. He means that even though the women repaid $97,000, they kept at least $1.3 million. He feels that spending three years in prison in exchange for $1.3 million is a deal that many people would be willing to make.
Marra stated that the maximum sentence recommended under federal guidelines was about four years. He knew he couldn’t go over that six years, let alone 16, as Ms. O had hoped. Like Ms. O, the other victim, a man identified as Mr. A, said he was at the lowest point when he met the scammers. He said that when he first began talking to Vwanawick, his wife had severe health problems, and his business struggled to stay afloat. The duo told him they saw a dark force surrounding his family and that only they could lift the curse.
They told him that since they were “white squaw of the Cherokee Indian Tribe,” they could cleanse his money. Since Mr. A was vulnerable, he trusted them, gave them what they asked for, and hoped his life would improve. Ms. O said she was told the same thing. They told her her future looked bleak and disastrous but that they could change it. She was in the middle of a divorce when they entered her life. Her husband was an abusive alcoholic, and she was willing to do anything to improve her life. This was her mindset when she met them in 2010 at a nail salon.
So How Did They Scam Their Victims?
At first, the women asked for cash to buy crystals, candles, and other religious relics, but that quickly turned into requests for large cash payments for their services. She was in a weakened state and the women they knew that. Ms. O began withdrawing tens of thousands of dollars from her bank account for them and even gave the pair almost $50,000 in jewelry at their insistence.
Of course, the mother and daughter promised to return the cash and jewelry after they had cleansed it of the evil spirits. When Ms. O showed hesitation at their requests, the scammers told her, “I swear to you, in Jesus’ name, we want nothing from you.” This promise put her mind at ease, and she trusted them. Sadly, when Ms. O asked for her money back after some time had passed, the women’s attitudes toward her changed, and they began mistreating her.
At one point, Ms. O decided to record her conversation with the pair to have proof for the FBI. In one recording, Vwanawick says, “You must be very stupid” when asked to return the money. Ms. O tried to get the pair to give her a receipt every time she gave them money or jewels, but they told her they couldn’t write and that it was also against their culture.
This excuse didn’t keep her from keeping her own record, though; she kept a detailed log of everything she handed over to them. The duo pleaded guilty to conspiracy to commit wire fraud in court and admitted to the crime. When the judge told them how much they were accused of stealing, they argued against the number. They claimed that, at the very most, they ‘only’ took $800,000 from both Mr. A and Ms. O combined.
Florida Seems To Be A Hotspot For Scamming Psychics
Despite their arguments, Judge Marra ordered them to pay $1.4 million in restitution but acknowledged that he didn’t believe they would ever repay it. Florida is no stranger to arresting scamming psychics. In 2014, a West Palm Beach jury convicted a Fort Lauderdale psychic named Rose Marks of over a dozen crimes. She was found guilty of defrauding almost $18 million from unsuspecting victims.
This case got a lot of attention because one of those victims was best-selling romance author Jude Deveraux. Other members of Mark’s family were also involved and prosecuted in the case, but Rose received the harshest sentence and is serving a 10-year term. At the beginning of 2020, a woman running a psychic scam out of her homes in Palm Beach and Broward County named Sherry Tina Uwanawich was also sentenced.
The 28-year-old supposed psychic (unrelated to this Uwanawich) was sentenced to almost three years in prison for her $1.6 million psychic scam. Although the sentences don’t seem long enough for the amount of money stolen, it’s refreshing to see this type of crime get more attention. People are noticing the real threat of fake psychic scammers and becoming more aware of what to look for. I’ve learned who I can and cannot trust after being conned by a mother-daughter team.
Even though these frauds give psychics a bad name, authentic psychics don’t operate this way and are trustworthy. I’ve done a lot of research and use the psychics on my reviews page when I need help. These online psychic networks vet, test, verify and monitor their psychic advisors. They abide by certain ethics and never use dirty tactics to get money. Check them out below if you’re looking for someone honest you can turn to for guidance and advice.