Psychic Cynthia and a Case of Spiritual Fraud
The Legacy Harry Houdini Left Me
I don’t usually feel like spitting on someone. But I’m glad I’m hundreds of miles away from this woman because the urge comes over me every time I read about this case. I blame it on Harry Houdini.
Not only was Harry Houdini a kick-ass escape artist, but he also spent a good part of his later years debunking fake mediums, psychics, and clairvoyants. Nothing pissed Harry off like seeing a charlatan trick a grieving parent. Sadly, after World War 1, there were thousands. Many were willing to believe and do just about anything to talk to their son just one more time.
I felt that same outrage when I read about twenty-seven-year-old Psychic Cynthia, aka Cynthia J. Evans. On Thursday, August 18, she finally fessed up to the soulless scamming and manipulation she has been doing over the past several years. Her specialty was figuring out your greatest fears, fanning their flames, and then robbing you blind. What is incredibly infuriating is the vulnerable targets she chose.
The “Multigenerational Curse”
Psychic Cynthia’s modus operandi was first to give a prospective target an inexpensive tarot card reading. Inevitably, it would reveal something sinister. Cynthia’s expertise, of course, would be crucial in averting whatever impending disaster the cards had foretold, and naturally, she needed money to work her magic. Lots of money.
According to law enforcement, one of the victims was a thirty-year-old man with “mental health and developmental challenges.” Cynthia first convinced him that he had a “multigenerational curse,” and she needed thirty candles (one for each year of his life) to fight it. These were no Bath and Body Works Japanese Cherry Blossom single wicks; these cost $100 a pop.
The victim didn’t even get to see these magical tapers, though, because the ceremony she performed with them was, in her words, “too dangerous.” What kind of greed can’t even spring for the 1.5% of her ceremonial swindling it would have cost her to show her client an army of decent-smelling, curse-fighting candles?
After all, she had other ways of worming moolah out of this client. She charged him $5000 for a crystal she promised would speed his recently departed father’s transition from purgatory to heaven. She used one of his credit cards to pay herself $10,000. When it was said and done, Psychic Cynthia had conned him out of almost $90,000. If you’re wondering where he got all the money, a good chunk came from his mother’s IRA — without her knowledge or consent.
“Death is Stalking You”
A second victim was a sixty-four-year-old woman looking for love. She had struggled emotionally since at least 2004, when she began seeing a psychiatrist. Of course, once Psychic Cynthia got a hold of her, she straightened her out about mental health professionals;” You have me, you don’t need a therapist.”
Psychic Cynthia not only preyed on her victim’s loneliness, she fed her fears. This woman was a cancer survivor. Many cancer survivors live with the ghost of illnesses past, grateful for their life now and aware of how quickly it can evaporate. Psychic Cynthia obviously understood this; she told her that death had been “stalking” her for her entire life and that her cancer would return
She also had the woman turn over $5,428 from a life insurance policy while telling her that death has been stalking her throughout her life.
How much would you be willing to pay to guarantee a long life filled with good health and vitality?
This victim paid $48, 575.44.
Does Psychic Cynthia Have a Clone?
I have told this story before, and I always feel ashamed when I do. Thirty-plus years ago, long-time friend Susan and I met in New York for a getaway. We were young, single, and up for adventure in the Big Apple.
We were shopping one day, and I saw a sign advertising psychic readings. How fun! Let’s do it. Best case scenario; she would tell me I would be a millionaire and marry into royalty. Then I could spend my time on the plane coming home fantasizing about it. Trust me; I wasn’t going to quit my day job.
Worst-case scenario; she’d guess a bunch of things that were way off base. I’d seen psychics at parties and fairs. I’d gotten readings as birthday gifts.
Most of them were disappointing; one was eerily accurate. I had plenty of conversations that went something like this: There’s an important male figure in your life whose name begins with an “R.” “No, not that I can think of.” Maybe it’s an “S.” All of them were harmless.
I was blindsided by Susan’s reluctance to get our fortune’s told. Why? I asked her. She couldn’t explain it; she just felt weird about it. I could see her unease, but in my arrogant wisdom, I thought she was being ridiculous. Are you telling me you, a smart, college-educated career woman take this stuff seriously? Surely you’re not scared, I teased. I wasn’t mean about it, but I bullied her into it.
I went first. The reading probably went like I expected, some fishing around for information followed by vague comments that could fit half the U.S. population. I don’t remember much about it, so clearly, there were no over-the-top promises of good fortune or predictions of doom.
It turns out that my friend’s reading differed significantly from mine. Susan had been warned of a curse hanging over her that, if not corrected immediately by our New York psychic (involving lighting candles and a substantial sum of money), would have dire consequences. Fortunately, Susan had not forked over any additional cash. But the whole experience terrified her. It didn’t ruin our trip, but she struggled to shake it off.
I was furious. I marched back up the stairs and banged on the door, ready to give this woman an earful. But she never opened the door. Perhaps she had a sixth sense after all.
Cynthia has been at this for a while. Here’s a review Cathy H. left on Trip Advisor in 2018:
Cynthia preyed on my fears about getting pregnant. Told me if I got pregnant the pregnancy would go badly and the baby would be cursed unless I paid her thousands of dollars to “clear away the negative energy.
The Bottom Line
On Thursday, August 18, 2022, Cynthia J. Evans pleaded guilty to two counts of felony theft by swindle. Under a plea agreement, she will be on probation for five years, serve up to ninety days in jail and make restitution to her victims. If she complies with these terms, the court will reduce the conviction to a misdemeanor. Perhaps she will face a harsher sentence when she meets the future she already pretends to know.
As for victims of scams and cons, why do we so often throw stones at them? Most people who fall under a fortune teller’s spell are going through a rough patch, struggling with something involving love, money, or health. It is not a crime to be gullible. It is a crime to take advantage of someone who is.
Originally published at https://joniejohnstonpsyd.substack.com on August 20, 2022.