Linda Marks allegedly scammed Boynton Beach woman out of $38,000
Boynton police said Friday they arrested the nomadic huckster, who had been serving a five-year probation for a 2002 insurance scam, for “repeat offenses” in the presence of her probation officer Thursday in Delray Beach.
“Linda Marks claims to be a psychic,” said Det. Toby Athol, who handcuffed Marks. “If that’s true, she can’t be a very good one, because she had no idea I was coming to get her.”
Athol said he obtained probable cause to arrest Marks when the elderly Boynton victim, whom police would not identify, came forward last week to file a police report.
The elderly woman found Marks through an ad in a supermarket PennySaver last summer, police said.
Marks allegedly read the woman’s fortune, telling her she was “wealthy and evil in another life, and all her money was blood money.” Marks then demanded that the woman pay her large sums of money, promising to return the cash once it had been cleansed.
The elderly woman complied. From July to October 2004, she gave Marks $38,000 because she believed she had been cursed in the earlier life.
“Then, Marks said her daughter had a terminal disease,” said Det. Athol. “So the woman mortgages her house to give Marks the last $14,000 because she’s afraid her daughter is going to die.”
After six months, the woman began phoning Marks every day to ask for her money back. Marks refused.
Athol described Marks as “a gypsy, drifting from place to place,” who owes $10,000 in rent to a property manager in Boynton. The two parties are in litigation.
Marks most recently lived at 22492 Swordfish Drive in Boca Winds, a middle-class suburb off Palmetto Park Road west of Boca Raton, but police were unsure when she moved in.
Several homeowners on Marks’s street, interviewed Friday, said they knew only that Marks was a renter who had moved in within the last three months.
“I had no idea she was arrested,” said Martin E. Perez, a realtor who lives two doors down. “She hasn’t been here very long.”
“You never really know who is next door,” said Maria Weaver, who lives across the street from Marks with her husband Les.
At the time of Marks’s 2002 conviction, she and her husband James were living in Delray and operating a business there called “The Psychic Shop” at 904 Federal Highway.
Although Marks was accused of several scams, including that she took $300,000 from a dying man, she was arrested and convicted only on charges of insurance fraud.
More than a dozen Palm Beach and Broward County residents later sued Marks, claiming she swindled them out of individual sums between $2,000 to $1.1 million in exchange for her “spiritual cleansings.” That lawsuit, like the others against Marks, is still pending in court.
“She’s a psychopath with no conscience,” said Barry Silver, the victims’ lawyer. “She’s totally willing to destroy people’s lives and take every last cent. I’ve got a woman client who had $1,000 to her name and Linda Marks took it.”
Silver’s clients are also suing the Delray police department for ignoring their complaints about the so-called “gypsy crimes.”
Det. Athol said the scam is common in South Florida “Be careful about psychics,” he warned. “If they’re real psychics, they shouldn’t have to put an ad in the PennySaver, because they know where you live lately.”
He added, “At least check with one other person about psychics, because they always say ‘it’s a secret’ and the curse won’t work if it’s let out. Especially when money’s involved.”
This weekend, Marks is being held without bond until a Monday hearing. She faces two felony charges, scheme to defraud the elderly and grand theft, charges that violate her probation for the insurance fraud.
If local residents have further information about Marks, or were victimized while she was living in Boynton, they are urged to contact Det. Athol of the Boynton police at 561-742-6152.
Apr. 23, 2005