What’s strange about this story is how much it resembles a previous story I wrote about three years back….
Today’s story as Gothamist tells it:
“A 22-year-old Hell’s Kitchen resident claims a midtown Manhattan fortune teller bilked her out of more than $200,000. Jiawei Li, 22, first got involved with 26-year-old Amanda Ufie (a.k.a. Amanda Petro) in January 2012. Over a ten month period afterwards, Li gave her $217,040 worth of ‘property, cash, gift cards and other means’ because Ufie ‘claimed to have the power to cleanse this individual of a curse and solicited the money to cleanse said curse’.”
Gothamist goes on to make the point that going to fortune tellers of any kind is more or less ridiculous. My take is slightly more reserved in that, while I find your average “fortune teller” to be full of shiz, I find the vitriol against these things to be a cover for latent hysteria regarding anything that does not fall neatly within the model of Western science. Crazy? I don’t think so!
Because there is a certain level of stigma against “spiritual” pursuits by those baring strictly secular sensibilities, theft involving the occult (or what is propurted to be the occult) is seen a somehow unique. For my money, theft is theft. If you use the pretense of a “cleansing” to procure the bank account of someone or “an investment,” and both are based on dubious claims, than both are matters of theft.
The question, of course, is whether or not so-called “fortune telling” is by its very nature dubious. If that were the case, charging anything for its services would be a crime. And yet, it isn’t. You can pay to have your palm read all over the city. It seems, however, that once the amount of money reaches a certain level, fortune telling shifts into fraud.