A self-described fortune teller in California has been charged after allegedly conning a victim out of $50,000 to lift a family curse, according to police.
Riverside Police Department officers charged Andres Pena Meneses, 31, with grand theft and theft by false pretense after he posed as a fortune teller in Riverside.
Detectives with the department’s economic crimes unit launched an investigation into an apparent “fortune teller” business in the 2500 block of Arlington Avenue after a woman attended to have her fortune read.
The victim described the fortune-teller as a Colombian national who went by “Carlos” and convinced her she had to pay hundreds of dollars to remove parasites from her body.
Meneses, going by “Carlos,” later contacted the victim and said she needed to pay over more money in order to rid her and her family of a curse, police said.
He allegedly continued to convince the victim her children were in trouble and, through false pretenses, ended up collecting more than $50,000 dollars from the woman.
A Riverside Police Department Facebook post shared on Friday, said officers were able to locate Menses and that they had learned of his previous conviction.
The statement added: “Detectives were able to positively identify the suspect fortune teller as 31-year-old Andres Pena Meneses of Riverside.
“They also learned Mr. Meneses had a prior arrest and conviction in late 209 in Chicago for a similar fraud in which he portrayed himself as a “faith healer” and stole money from victims.”
On Tuesday, October 26, detectives served a search warrant at Meneses’s home and business in Riverside.
There, detectives located “a significant amount of cash” as well as a voodoo doll, tarot cards, altars, religious and satanic type objects as well as a small live python snake, which they said had all been used as part of the fraud.
During the search, other customers arrived and told detectives that Menses instructed them to bring their bed mattresses from their homes.
They claimed Meneses and his staff would cut open the mattress and said they had found a live snake inside as well as demonic items and letters that stated the victims’ families were in danger.
More people claiming to be victims came forward and said Menses would advertise his services on the radio and that he could cure ailments in exchange for money.
Meneses was booked into the Robert Presley Detention Center on October 26 but was released later that day after he posted $57,000 bail.
Police have asked anyone with information, or people who believe they are a victim to come forward and contact Detective Cory Camp at (951) 353-7117 or [email protected]
Newsweek has contacted the Riverside Police Department for comment.
Meneses was arrested following an investigation into alleged grand theft.
Riverside Police Department