A man was arrested and booked by police in Hallandale Beach, Fla, last week after reportedly telling two women he was a faith healer who could cleanse them of evil spirits and impurities.
These women claim he subsequently defrauded them of nearly $100,000.
The individual in question, Joe Alvarez, 32, is somewhat of an anomaly, as police are unsure of his real name or identity and are still working to confirm the details.
Joe Alvarez is accused of tricking women out of tens of thousands of dollars (Credit: Broward Sheriffs Office)
In addition to pledging to cure these women of impurities, Alvarez also reportedly told his victims that money was evil and that only he could help them improve their spiritual health.
He reportedly performed a "ritual" in which the women were asked to give him their money, which he would then burn in front of them. But police claim that, unbeknownst to the women, Alvarez would change the real money out for fake bills before setting the cash ablaze.
"The money that you got that you have is unclean so you have to take it out of the bank and keep it with you, like sleep on it, just keep it with you because of all the cleansing that I am doing with you and your body," one unnamed victim told KNBC-TV, apparently paraphrasing what Alvarez had told her.
She added, "That money was supposed to come back to me but then it's like we got to burn it now, so if you have this big bin and he just threw it in there and then I'm like ‘My money!,’ and he's like ‘You have to leave, you have to leave, like everything’s getting dark, there are spirits that are going to come in, leave fast before they follow you.'"
Two women, Evelyn Taveras and Cassandre Soray, have gone on record, claiming they met Alvarez on separate occasions at the Aventura Mall in Miami, the Sun Sentinel reported. They claim that, over time, he collectively defrauded them of nearly $100,000.
Taveras said she first met Alvarez on Feb. 6 when he complimented her aura and offered to help her "align her chakras" (major physical or spiritual energy points in the human body).
Alvarez, who introduced himself as a faith healer named "Dorian," then sold her three crystals at the tune of $5,200 each, claiming that they would help maintain her aura.
Later, Taveras, who had told Alvarez that she was storing $39,000 under a mattress that she planned to use to open a business, said that he came to her home unannounced; after Alvarez left the house, the $39,000 was allegedly missing as was jewelry, adding up to a total loss of $48,700.
"I was very upset for being so naïve and gullible," Taveras told the Sun Sentinel. "I felt like, 'What an idiot. How could you fall for this?' It was very demoralizing."
Soray, too, reportedly had a similar encounter. After meeting Alvarez, who told her his name was Robert, in Dec. 2012, she said she ended up giving the man a total of $37,000 to "cleanse the impurities" within her.
Police tracked the man down and arrested him on Nov. 27 after he ordered materials pertaining to astrological readings and spiritual healing from a printing company.
Hallandale Beach Police Det. Edward McGovern called Alvarez's ability to peg the women for being spiritual and use this information to get into their personal lives "impressive."
The total sum allegedly taken from the two women is $85,700. It is unclear how many women aside from Taveras and Soray were involved with Alvarez or if the sum is higher.
He is now being held on $16,000 bond and is charged, as KNBC-TV noted, with two counts of grand theft and two counts of obtaining property by gaming.
(H/T: Sun Sentinel)