Woman claims she lost family heirlooms after visiting psychic
SAN ANTONIO – Palm readings, tarot cards and a window into your future. That’s the allure of a psychic. But the spiritual experience can come with a price.
Fox San Antonio investigates one woman’s claim she was scammed out of priceless family heirlooms.
Judy Rierson says she was a lonely woman looking for love who got hooked by a mystical promise.
"I felt like there was something wrong with me and I wanted to know what was wrong with me,” she says. "I saw the sign on the road that said, 'Amazing readings - solves all problems.'"
And so began her whirlwind week with a local psychic.
"She says, ‘Oh my gosh, you are full of evil spirits. Evil spirits are all inside you,’” Rierson remembers. “She says, Someone has put a curse on you.’”
She says the psychic gave her oil to rub on her body, holy water and a red bracelet to ward off evil spirits.
"So then she says, 'I need to see you tomorrow. I'm going to tell you right now: you need to bring me all your gold. Evil spirits travel through gold so if you have any gold you need to bring it to me,’” Rierson says.
She says she brought in everything, and the psychic honed in on a diamond ring and earrings that belonged to Rierson’s mother.
"And she says, ‘This is cursed and this is cursed. Evil curses. You've got to get rid of them,’” Rierson says. “I said, ‘Don't do anything with my rings.’ I said, ‘That's what you're supposed to do: get rid of the evil spirits.’”
She says she left the jewelry overnight with a warning.
“’Don't do anything with my jewelry,’” Rierson remembers telling the psychic. “I told her that. ‘I'll be back to get it.’”
And when she returned, she says the psychic denied ever having her mother’s jewelry.
"Hurt. I was very hurt. Heartbroken,” Rierson says as her eyes well with tears. "I feel ashamed because I did something so stupid. Very, very mad at myself. I've been very angry with myself."
She filed a theft report with the San Antonio Police Department. The lead detective closed the case. The psychic told her police she never asked for the jewelry, and police say there was no proof the jewelry changed hands.
Fox San Antonio took a hidden camera to a reading with the same psychic.
"You want the full reading, right?" the psychic asked.
"Yeah,” our undercover customer responded.
“There’s a lot of bad spirits around you,” the psychic said.
We’re not showing the psychic’s face or using her name because she hasn’t been charged with a crime.
The psychic told our undercover customer she needed a spiritual cleansing.
"Once you get cleansed you'll find the right man will come into your life. I see that,” the psychic said. "This cleansing that you need done, it depends on your weight. It costs a dollar a pound."
“A dollar a pound?” the customer asked.
"How much you weigh?" the psychic responded.
"I'm not sure. Like 150,” the customer said.
"So it would be $300,” the psychic said.
Our undercover customer walked away, but the encounter shows how quickly financial transactions can escalate.
"They're called crimes of intimacy. They're called affinity crimes where you build up a relationship with somebody,” says Bexar County District Attorney Nico LaHood.
His office is investigating hundreds of cases of elder fraud. He says the biggest obstacle to prosecuting these cases: no proof.
"Don't let anything of value out of your hands without a paper trail,” LaHood says. “Record things - if you can't get a paper trail, if you can't write - get a phone, get a recorder, record things."
With no legal recourse, Rierson hopes by sharing her story you’ll remember that when something doesn’t feel right, walk away.
"I've beat myself up over it. Why did I trust her?" she says. "Maybe it was meant for me to happen to me - so I would do something. I don't think I'm the only one she's done this to. I truly don't."
By EMILY BAUCUM