Saturday, December 20, 2008

Beautiful (Husbands, I Mean)

"A San Mateo woman who advertised herself as a psychic has been arrested for allegedly bilking an 85-year-old woman of more than $80,000 by falsely claiming that both their husbands would die if the woman didn't hand over money, authorities said Friday.

Janet Adams, 42, was arrested Thursday night and is being held in lieu of $500,000 bail at San Mateo County Jail.

Her alleged victim visited her Psychic and Crystal Vision shop in the Laurelwood Shopping Center in San Mateo 'on a lark' in January for a tarot reading, said Steve Wagstaffe, San Mateo County's chief deputy district attorney.

Adams persuaded her to make return trips, Wagstaffe said. On her third visit, Adams began to shake and cry, telling the woman that her husband would die of a heart attack if she didn't immediately pay $13,000 for 'special prayers,' the prosecutor said.

The woman promptly went to the bank and got the money, authorities said.

At the woman's next visit, Adams told her that her own husband was in the hospital and needed money for treatment or would die, Wagstaffe said. The woman gave her $9,000.

On subsequent visits, Adams made up stories about having to pay for her now-dead husband's funeral and for a son's medical treatments, Wagstaffe said.

In all, the woman handed over $80,330 to Adams, prosecutors said.

The alleged scam came to light when the woman's husband noticed that she was making large, regular withdrawals from their bank account. The woman told her husband what happened and they notified police.

Adams has victimized numerous women in San Mateo County in the past and was sent to state prison in 2004 for two years on a theft conviction, authorities said. At that time, Adams worked as a palm reader at the Half Moon Bay Pumpkin Festival.

She was arraigned Friday on charges of theft from an elderly victim and an enhancement alleging the loss was more than $65,000.

Adams is the second purported psychic in recent weeks to run afoul of the law in the Bay Area.

In September, 27-year-old Lisa Marie Miller of San Francisco pleaded no contest to theft by false pretense in Santa Clara County for bilking a customer out of $108,000 and talking her into buying her a sports car in exchange for purifying her of evil spirits. She was sentenced Dec. 10 to two months in county jail."


-- Henry K. Lee, who's doing a damn good job of covering the psychic beat, for The San Francisco Chronicle.

Now if we can shine a light on Doti Boon,...