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Spain police crack witchcraft con

BBC, UK
Jan. 12, 2005
news.bbc.co.uk

ReligionNewsBlog.com • Wednesday January 12, 2005

Police in Spain have arrested seven Brazilians suspected of cheating people out of thousands of euros by claiming to be clairvoyants and witch doctors.

The roving group advertised themselves as healers and spiritualists on fliers and in newspapers across Spain.

They claimed they could help deal with anything from diseases to curses in return for large sums of money.

Catalan police said the group exploited the desperation of the people who replied to their adverts.

Investigators said the “con artists” had said bad things would happen to their clients if they did not pay up.

Earnings unknown

The group spent short periods in different cities, setting themselves up in a flat which they adorned with ornaments and ritual objects to make it look authentic.

After performing the “con” they moved on to another town.

Police do not yet know how much money the gang made as many of their victims are too embarrassed to come forward.

But police said that in the northern Navarra region alone they took more than one million euros (700,000) and in Sabadell near Barcelona, seven victims paid the group a total of 60,000 euros (42,000).

Other scams are believed to have been carried out in Tarragona, Pamplona, Jaen, Oviedo and Burgos.

The five men and two women have no residency papers and are expected to be deported.

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