Swedish police catch 'clairvoyant' con-artist
The Local/dl · 30 Mar 2011, 12:28
Published: 30 Mar 2011 12:28 GMT+02:00
The woman claimed to have contact with the spirit world and an ability to exorcise demons. She also dispensed with advice on relationships.
In the process, the woman managed to defraud her customers of huge amounts of money.
Ursula Engstrand, now 74, was swindled out of close to a half million kronor by the fake psychic back in 2005 and 2006.
They spoke several times a week on the phone, with the clairvoyant eventually achieving such a dominant position in her relationship with Engstrand that she convinced her elderly client that if she did not do as she was told she would fall victim to an accident.
“It was brainwashing. She sent papers up to me and told me to sign them. I didn’t dare disobey her,” Engstrand told the Gefle Dagblad newspaper at the time.
The 48-year-old went on to buy cars and took out loans in the Engstrand's name valued at 450,000 kronor ($70,000 kronor).
The wheelchair bound Engstrand, a resident of Gävle in eastern Sweden, eventually had her house reposed because of the debts racked up in her name by the 48-year-old woman.
The crooked clairvoyant also succeeded in fooling a millionaire out of more than 3 million kronor after the wealthy woman made contact with the 48-year-old through a newspaper advertisement.
While the woman’s first conversation cost only a modest 400 kronor, the second session set the well-heeled woman back a whopping 25,000 kronor.
The mind reader then convinced the woman to hand over 200,000 kronor for a trip to “the holy land” so the psychic could make offerings to the spirit world.
In 2003, the millionaire forked over another 175,000 kronor and in return received a glass spray bottle filled with “holy water” and a handful of pigeon feathers. Spraying the holy water around her house, she was told, would protect her from bad luck.
While an arrest warrant was first issued for the 48-year-old several years ago for suspected scams carried out far back as 2002, she managed to go underground and evade capture until police finally arrested her on Monday.
According to prosecutor Åke Olsson, the arrest was uneventful. As charges have already been filed against the woman, the next step in the 48-year-old's case is a trial in Solna District Court outside of Stockholm where the soothsayer's victims will be called to testify.
"As I see things, we're looking at several years in prison," he told Gefle Dagblad.