ORLANDO, Fla. - An Orlando area mother, duped into giving a fortuneteller more than $100,000 to help lift a curse, has had that small fortune returned.
Priti Mahalanobis was allegedly lured into the ordeal by Peaches Stevens, who advertises under the name of Mrs. Starr.
Stevens told her the curse "would affect us in the areas of love, health and money" and would harm her children, as well, Mahalanobis told Local 6.
Instead, she said, "I got financial devastation and a lot of mental turmoil" after admitting to family she had provided more than $135,000 in cash and jewelry to Stevens, mostly to purchase "tabernacles," small tent-like structures that Stevens said would help lift the curse.
After talking with family, Mahalanobis contacted private investigator Bob Nygaard, who specializes in confidence scams. He helped prepare evidence used by state investigators to charge Stevens with three felony counts involving "scheme to defraud."
The charges were dropped after Stevens repaid Mahalanobis.
"I was very, very fortunate that we were able to receive full restitution," Mahalanobis said. "Usually it never even results in legal action whatsoever. Usually the victims just walk away feeling helpless, feeling humiliated and many times it even breaks up their families."
She is now trying to counsel others who have fallen for similar scams.
Stevens, 30, whose business and home numbers have been disconnected, could not be reached for comment.
Copyright 2012 by ClickOrlando.com. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.