Prosecutors say a South Florida family of gypsies amassed $40 million in a fortune-telling scam, warning victims that if they didn't follow their advice, terrible things would happen to them or their loved ones.
Details spilled out in federal court Friday after eight people were arrested earlier this week.
Assistant U.S. Attorney Laurence Bardfeld said victims who were going through vulnerable phases forked over cash, gold coins and jewelry. The defendants promised victims they wouldn't spend the money, but then refused to return it.
The Sun Sentinel (http://lb.vg/gLR1E) reports that one victim, a bestselling author, gave an estimated $20 million.
Authorities started investigating in 2007 after a victim complained about losing $3,000.
An attorney for one family member said the clan provided counseling for victims who had nowhere to turn.
Information from: South Florida Sun Sentinel, http://www.sun sentinel.com