News around the world

News around the world

Bogus faith healer cons victims out of £150,000

A bogus faith healer who conned three women into giving him £150,000 by falsely claiming he had “black magic” powers to cure personal problems has been jailed for seven-and-half years.

Abdoulie Gassama said he needed extra money for expensive rituals including sacrificing crocodiles and cows. The “desperate” victims, who feared something terrible would happen if they did not pay up, were “bled dry” with two of them giving the fraudster their life savings. Gassama then ploughed a large amount of the cash he had extorted into “lavish” property developments in the Gambia.

Gassama, 34, of Offenhan Covert, Kings Norton, had previously pleaded guilty to 19 charges of fraud and one of money laundering.

Ben Mills, prosecuting at Birmingham Crown Court, said Gassama had advertised his services, claiming to be a faith healer, over a 13-month period, between May 2014 and June 2015. He would give himself different Sheikh names and the adverts would be accompanied by photos of someone wearing spiritual clothing that was not even him.

Mr. Mills said Gassama claimed he could help people with emotional problems: “When you look at the words in the advert he was plainly targeting people who were emotionally vulnerable. He is 34 but he was claiming to have 40 years experience of faith healing. Over that period of 13 months three ladies who found themselves in a state and emotional turmoil and desperation each contacted him. Each of them were systematically defrauded by him.”

Mr. Mills said the women initially payed the defendant a small amount so he could carry out “tests.” He then demanded larger and larger sums claiming he needed to carry out prayers, needed materials for various rituals or had to sacrifice “exotic” animals.

Mr. Mills said if any of them began questioning his authority he would warn them that failure to pay could lead to “terrible” things happening to them and their families and in one case told one women that she risked her daughter going blind.

He said: “Each of them were effectively financially bled dry. None of them experienced any improvement in their emotional troubles.”

Mr. Mills said a large amount of the money had gone through Gassama’s wife’s account and had been spent on living expenses and shopping while some of it had been transferred to the Gambia where it was used for the construction of property.

When his home was later searched police found deeds for land in Gambia and also photos of luxury properties in various stages of construction.

He said the first victim, who had seen Gassama’s advert contacted him because her husband had left her but she was desperate to get him back.

She visited him at an address in Malvern Road, Handsworth, where he greeted her dressed in flowing robes and led her upstairs to a room with prayer mats and photos of various gods and religious images on the walls.

Gassama made increasing demands of cash from her claiming he needed to sacrifice three crocodiles and seven cows and she handed over a total of £5,000.

The second victim, who sought his help after going through a painful separation and who was trying to get her children back, paid Gassama £8,000.

Mr. Mills said the third woman, who wanted to cure her husband of his alcoholism, gave Gassama £130,000 after he constantly put pressure on her and ended up selling her house to meet his demands.

In a statement she said she had been put through a “massive amount of emotional stress.” She went on “I put all trust and faith in that man. I was worried, scared and felt at risk. I have been left heart broken, depressed and close to having a nervous break down. It has had a profound effect on my relationship with my family.”

In passing sentence Judge Nicholas Dean QC said: “You are not a faith healer. You are a charlatan and a fraudster. You preyed on the vulnerability of your victims extorting large sums of money. You have caused immense and long lasting distress. The cynical callousness of your behavior, particularly towards the third victim, was staggering. You cared nothing for the feelings of your victims. You cared only about extracting as much as you possibly could out of them.”

Rashad Mohammed, defending, said: “It spiraled out of control. It was easy pickings and he carried on taking the money.”

Coun Barbara Dring, chair of the city council’s Licensing and Public Protection Committee, said: “This man has cynically exploited three vulnerable women who sought his help in what must have been very traumatic and trying times. Not only did he make and break a string of empty promises, he gave them expensive false hope that their situations would improve if they paid for extra prayers or sacrificial animals. Sadly it is easy to be seduced by the offer of a ‘quick fix’ but people should be very wary of paying any individual promising to solve their problems in this manner, instead they should seek advice through professional channels.”

Bogus love guru jailed for 18 months for swindling vulnerable Midlanders

Bogus love guru who conned desperate Midlanders out of thousands of pounds by claiming his prayers could help them have babies and fix relationships has been jailed for 18 months.

Father-of-four Niem Mohammed claimed his skills as a faith healer and spiritualist had been passed down through generations. The 41-year-old said he lived in Pakistan when he was aged five to 18 to learn about his culture and maintained his gift had been passed down his family.

But Wolverhampton Crown Court was told he was a “swindler” who took advantage of vulnerable Midlanders.

Mohammed, who has a luxury home in Cheshire and drives a Bentley and a Ferrari, charged a Smethwick couple £9,650 to break a black magic spell he said was placed on the woman by her jealous sister. And he told her he would use prayer to help her conceive a child with her partner.

He also took £1,300 off a woman to help mend a broken relationship and, when nothing happened, he told her he needed a further £1,800. Mohammed further threatened her that he would send a Sikh ghost to destroy her home and family if she did not pay up, said Barry Berlin prosecuting. He said that Mohammed claimed he was born at a place of pilgrimage in India when in fact he was born in Liverpool.

Mohammed of Altrincham Road, Wilmslow, was found guilty on 11 charges of fraud.

Judge Jonathan Gosling said only an immediate sentence of custody was appropriate. Mohammed was cleared on four other charges including one of blackmail.

In his defence, Mohammed demonstrated to the jury his meditation and prayer techniques and showed them his scrolls and talismans. He denied he was a conman adding: “Having one or two complaints does not mean my work of 15 years is no good.”

The court was told Mohammed had paid back more than £9,000 to the Smethwick couple following complaints to Sandwell Trading Standards.

7 year old boy killed in black magic ludicrous

Body of a seven-year-old boy has been found from in his neighbour's house in the Lambada area of Malko village in the district, police said today.

The body of Gurprit Chumber alias Gopi, with his hands and legs tied, was found last night from an almirah of his neighbour Mangat Ram's house.

Gopi's father, Ashok Kumar, suspected that his son might have been killed for black magic practice.

The victim's uncle Nirmal told the police yesterday that Gopi had gone for tuition at Ram's house but did not return. When his family members went to his home to enquire, Ram said Gopi was studying and would return after some time.

Later, when they again went there, they found Ram's house was locked from outside. Following this, the police was informed who upon arrival broke the door open and found Gopi's school bag, alcohol, a dead hen, lemon and garlands lying there.

A case has been registered and a manhunt was launched to nab the accused. The body has been handed over to the family after post-mortem.

Four quacks arrested for promoting black magic

Bhilwara police on Friday have arrested four quacks for promoting superstition on the pretext of curing 'possessed' women. The police's action came in the wake of local media reports about women being forced to carry slippers, jutis on their heads and to drink water from them outside a temple.

"These men are called 'Bhopas' in local parlance. They would force women to crawl on the steps of Bankya Rani Temple, and force them to drink water from slippers as a cure to remove evil spirits from their bodies," Bhilwara SP, PM Sharma told TOI.

He added that the temple trust has also assured police of the full corporation against the torture of women. According to police, families of the women hire these quacks occultists who are not associated with the temple. "Police will not tolerate such superstitions that result in the torture of women. We have arrested these people and booked them under section 151 of the CrPc, "Sharma said.

Police have also beefed up security arrangements near the temple and have asked locals not to be part of such 'blind faith'.

The matter came to the surface after local media reported how women were been forced to carry slippers on their heads and then forced to drink contaminated water from the same slippers. The media has also reported that these quacks would beat-up women with slippers in order to remove the evil spirits from their bodies.

On Saturday, local administration was also swung into action with officials visiting the area and talking to local leaders about the problem.

"We will take stringent action against such violations. The police have arrested some people and more actions will be taken against the offenders," Sharma said.

Meanwhile, chairperson of the state commission for women Suman Sharma has sought report from the district administration regarding the matter. "We have also asked the local police to set up boards for prohibition of such atrocities against women. The district police have already started acting against the offenders to this effect," Sharma said.

"These men are called 'Bhopas' in local parlance. They would force the women to crawl on the steps of the Bankya Rani temple, and force them to drink water from slippers as a cure to remove the evil spirits from their bodies," Bhilwara police SP, PM Sharma told TOI.

12 months prison sentence for gumtree crook committing magical rituals

A Gumtree crook that duped his lovelorn victim out of £3,000 during a magic ritual has been jailed for 12 months.

Spiritual healer Mohamed Diaby told her to bring the cash to his home wrapped in white linen. He pledged to return it but swopped the money for worthless pieces of paper during a ritual to help her land her married lover.

The victim who took out a bank loan said she felt like the “ground had gone from under her feet” when she realized she had been conned.

Diaby, 36, of Green Lane, Handsworth, denied a charge of theft but was convicted at Birmingham Crown Court. Passing sentence, Judge Peter Carr told him: “You tricked her into bringing to a meeting a number of items including £3,000. “That was money she could ill afford to lose. This was a mean and nasty offence committed in breach of trust on a particularly vulnerable victim.”

Gary Cook, prosecuting, said the victim asked for Diaby’s help with her relationship with the married man. The crook got her to perform a number of rituals, which he claimed would “release the bad luck,” including burying items in a park and bathing in “special” water. She initially paid him £300 and had promised to hand over another £500 when she married the man.

The court heard Diaby told her she would tie the knot with the man, while another ritual required her to take needles and eggs with the man’s name written on them and the £3,000 to the crook’s home. The victim discovered she had been duped when she opened the package at a petrol station after leaving.

Diaby, who said he had inherited his gifts from his father, claimed the victim was unhappy because the process did not seem to be working and denied taking any money.

Kevin Waddingham, defending, said: “Diaby spent his early life in France before coming to the UK in 2000 and had worked in the security industry and factories.”