A 27-year-old Canadian woman is facing witchcraft and fraud charges after allegedly conning a 67-year-old man of $450,000 in what authorities are calling an “evil spirit blessing scam.”
Samantha Stevenson, of Toronto, has been charged with “Pretending to Practice Witchcraft,” according to a Thursday release from York Regional Police in Ontario.
Stevenson, acting as a psychic, allegedly convinced the victim that she could help rid him of evil spirits if he transferred large sums of money to her, police say in the release. Stevenson, who used the alias Evanna Lopez in the scheme, did not return the money, police say.
The man sold his home several years ago and transferred the money to Stevenson, police say. Stevenson later requested more money, purportedly to burn in an effort to “ward off the spirits,” police say. The victim allegedly sold his car and used credit cards to pay Stevenson that money.
In total, the victim lost more than $600,000 Canadian dollars, or approximately $450,000 in U.S. currency, police say.
Stevenson faces numerous charges, including “Pretending to Practice Witchcraft,” fraud and possession of property obtained by crime.
Canada’s criminal code allows for individuals to be charged with a witchcraft-related offense when they “fraudulently portray themselves as having fortune-telling abilities or pretend to use witchcraft, sorcery, enchantment or conjuration in order to obtain money or valuables from a victim,” police say.
“This charge is not connected in any way to any religion,” the release says.
The charge is used infrequently and is closely related to other fraud charges, Global News reports.
Police say there have been multiple reports of “evil spirit scams.” Often such frauds involve multiple suspects who convince victims that they are “surrounded by evil spirits and that a family member will die very soon if the spirits are not removed,” police say.
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