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Duped by spiritual leader

jamaican suspected of scamming antiguans out of thousands of dollars

ST. JOHN’S — Two local women allege they are among scores of people who have been duped out of hundreds of thousands of dollars by a woman who claims to be a spiritual healer and exorcist.

“This woman has robbed me, lied to me and abused me,” Vera Charles (not her real name), 35, said of the well-known spiritualist, whom she said swindled her of almost $50,000.

“I really trusted her, thinking she was a child of God.”

Charles’ tale goes back to 1999, when she was introduced by a friend to the spiritual healer, a Jamaican, who began her proselytising in Gray’s Farm, where a number of young people gathered every evening for prayer.

At these meetings, however, Bible-reading was not encouraged because, the healer said, God never died. Church-going was also forbidden because “the preachers were lying”.

Charles said she was so captivated that she and her boyfriend soon moved in with the woman, along with three other young men, all in a one-bedroom house.

Some time in 2002, Charles said she had a falling out with the spiritual healer and went back to live with her mother, but she kept in touch. The spiritualist then moved to Five Islands.

Charles said before long, she was invited back to live with the Jamaican, this time in Bolans, where she shared a rented house.

“All this time my boyfriend was still giving her his pay cheque every week,” she said. “She told me, ‘The Lord will bless you mightily’.”

Charles said the woman claimed that God had showed her a system whereby “she would collect all our pay cheques and she would pay our bills; and if we need anything, she would buy it. She has been collecting everybody’s week’s pay; sometimes more than $5,000 per week.

It was around that time she mentioned to the woman, whom she thought of as her mentor, that she had $27,800 saved in a Scotia Bank account.

“This is when she said to give her the money as she was going to buy a piece of land and build a house for us all to live on. So I withdrew all the money and gave her,” she stated.

According to the victim, not only did she hand over this money, she also gave the woman her credit union passbook from which she allegedly withdrew, over time, $21,715.

“I had no idea she was withdrawing the money,” Charles claimed. “When I gave her the book she told me she wanted to start an account where she could get loans. I only noticed when she gave me back the book that all that’s left on the account is $64.10.”

Charles said she has since parted ways with the woman, after she left for Jamaica in September of this year, and she (Charles) compared notes with the other victim, a 48-year-old woman, who was scammed of $87,000.

Victim No. 2 said she decided to quit when the healer returned from Jamaica in September and she realised she had nothing, not even food in her house; her children had been estranged from her; and that she was out of pocket by at least $87,000.

Phone calls to the spiritual healer for comment went unanswered. (Antigua Observer)

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