A Florida “psychic” who claimed to have “God-given powers” to heal must spend 40 months in prison and repay $1.6 million to a woman she convinced was cursed.
Sherry Tina Uwanawich, who moved to South Florida from Texas, met the unnamed female victim in Houston in 2007. While claiming to know the future and charging money for access isn’t unusual as far as manipulations go, taking $1.6 million from one customer can hardly be explained away as merely entertainment.
Uwanawich carried out the scheme by making up a “curse” that she then charged to keep at bay, according to the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Southern District of Florida.
According to the court docket, including the agreed upon factual proffer, the defendant was holding herself out as a psychic/fortune teller when she met a female victim in Houston, Texas in 2007. Uwanawich gained the trust of the victim and convinced her that a curse had been placed on her and her family.
Like all scammers, Uwanawich seized on a vulnerable person. But she also took advantage of a powerful motivator: fear of harm coming to the victim’s loved ones. It’s mob tactics with a decorative crystal ball.
The defendant claimed she needed large sums of money to purchase items, such as crystals, candles and the like, which were needed for meditation work in order to lift the curse. Failure to do so, the victim was led to believe, would result in harm to her and family.
The scam continued even after Uwanawich moved to Florida. It only stopped in 2014 after she admitted there was no curse. (We’re not told about the victim’s reaction…) Uwanawich also claimed to have “God-given” powers to heal other people.
There is a tendency to blame the victim in cases like this for handing over all that money, but doing so because you’re told you’re cursed or that your family will get hurt if you don’t do it suggests something far more sinister. At least the right person’s being punished now.