These sort of charges always make me feel uneasy.While this case seems pretty straight forward—at least in the instances where valuables were never returned to the customers—I can’t help but feel that fine line between working with a willing participant on matters “unseen” and taking an uninformed and coerced patron for house and home.
Here’s how the story breaks down:
Since 1991, the family has been telling customers that “money is the root of all evil,” according to an indictment released Tuesday, convincing people to hand over huge sums of money, jewelry and other valuables that needed to be “purged” before being returned. [ABC News]
So far I don’t see anything so horrible about this. For those f us who feel that objects can take on certain energies, be they good or bad, having an object “cleansed” isn’t something to get all worked up about.
The indictment claims the family amassed a Florida home, a yacht and over $1.8 million in gold coins. The rundown also identifies 14 cars—including four Mercedes Benz, a BMW, a Rolls Royce and a Bentley. Two Harley Davidson motorcycles were also part of the loot list. [ABC News]
While this list of goodies seems to infer that the family, by their very affluence, is in some way inherently guilty, I still have to say that the amassing of lavish toys does not a criminal make (unless of course you’re an anti-capitalist anarcho-marxist, in which case yes it does). But I digress…. Here’s where it starts to get sticky:
The indictment alleges that the family “told clients that they and their family members or friends would contract terrible diseases, suffer horrible financial hardships, and endure terrible catastrophes, and that loved ones who were already sick would not recover, and that their lives would remain haunted by evil spirits if they did not cleanse their money of those evil spirits.” [ABC News]
Again, if you believe objects retain energies, this isn’t such an insane claim. The tricky part is defining the cleansing process….
In one instance, a woman identified as L.B. was told by Nancy Marks that she had to purchase a Cartier watch. Once L.B. bought the watch, Marks told her that “she needed to work on the watch to turn back time and bring love back to L.B.” She turned over the watch on a promise she would get it back after the work was done, but never got the watch back. [ABC News]
Well, if by “cleansing an object” you mean taking it with the fiver finger discount and slipping it into the ol’ secret box under the secret floor board, then I guess…well…. That brand new Cartier must have contracted some ill vibrations on the car ride over from the store.
In the end, I’m guessing that the case is going to be boiled down to stolen property. I mean, if a woman name “Ursula the Fortune Teller” says she wants you to give her $400,000 in gold coins to help you stop hearing voices (in the indictment), then the service either worked or it didn’t. If it did, well, have fun with your new brain. If it didn’t and there’s no guarantee in place, well, I imagine there’s not much The Man can (or even should?) do.
I know. It’s that little weasily libertarian in me muddling about….
Ah, yes! Caviat emptor. You are so right, Bob.