Police Charge a Salem Psychic with Offering Fraudulent Curse Removal Services

Police in Salem, MA—or as it’s often referred to, Witch City,
USA—have charged a psychic studio with unlawfully providing curse
removal services. Fatima’s psychic studio, which
has been offering a Romani form of fortune-telling to tourists for
two decades, was caught violating a
city ordinance
which states that psychics may only forecast the
future and read the past. Warding off evil spirits and protecting
patrons from bad auras is strictly forbidden.

So when a New York resident issued a formal complaint against
Fatima’s, alleging that he paid a psychic $16,800 over several
weeks for placing a curse shield on him, police closed in. In an
investigation led by Detective Sergeant James A. Page, police
learned that the studio’s fortune-teller license was long expired.
They forced the studio to shut its doors and make a court

The Boston Globe

But on Monday night, when Fatima’s owner Harry Mitchell went
before the city’s licensing board to ask for reinstatement, the
lapse worked in Fatima’s favor. Page…said that without a valid
license, the shop was not technically operating under the
fortuneteller’s ordinance at the time of the cash-for-curse
incidents and therefore could not be charged with violating it.

Instead, he issued two $100 fines for operating without a
license. The board granted a probationary license for Fatima’s to
resume operation until the end of the year, provided they promise
not to meddle in curses again and work with the New York man to
come up with some kind of reimbursement.

Mitchell had
to the Salem Licensing Board earlier this week that
he had already settled the dispute with the customer and that he
would return the money.

Detective Page told the Boston Globe that while he
thought Fatima’s was making money off deception and fraudulence, it
would be difficult for police to pursue criminal charges since
“people are embarrassed and they’re not going to come forward.”

In response to the allegations, Christian Day, a local warlock
who owns two fortune-telling shops and has appeared on Penn
& Teller’s Bullshit, said:

If they’re a fraud, then we’re all frauds, and all religion is a
fraud. They’re not regulating the priest who absolves you of your
sins and tells you to put some money in the collection basket, or
the old lady who sends all her money to Pat Robertson.

If customers are looking for a reputable place to get their
palms read, they might just want to avoid Fatima’s completely: the
business has received a 1.5 star rating on both Tripadvisor
and Yelp
with reviews such as, “I had a palm reading and she didn’t even
look at my palm,” “Fraudulent Gypsies!!!,” “She told me I was
having a baby!!!! I had a hysterectamy 12 years ago!!!!!,” and
perhaps most tellingly, “Don’t waste your money. Do some

from Hit & Run http://reason.com/blog/2013/11/01/police-charge-a-salem-psychic-with-offer

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