A husband and wife who claim to be psychics were booked on suspicion of felony theft after convincing customers to hand over thousands of dollars to get rid of unwanted spirits, according to the San Bernardino County Sheriff's Department.
Cindy and Nick Uwanawich are accused of operating an unlicensed psychic business known as The Psychic Door in Crestline.
The sheriff's department opened the investigation in December 2012.
According to investigators, Cindy Uwanawich told one person that a spirit was bringing negative energy into the person's life and threatening the safety of the person's family.
The alleged victim said the psychic claimed she could get rid of the spirit if the person gave her nine pennies, nine nickels, nine dimes, nine quarters and $9,000 for nine days.
The alleged victim was told the money would be returned after the nine days, but that never happened, investigators said.
Detectives later identified seven other people who claimed to be victims of the Uwanawiches. Their losses reached a combined total of more than $238,000.
"It's upsetting there are people out and something out there giving my profession and what I do a bad name," said Jusstine Kenzer, who has been a practicing psychic for nearly 25 years.
Kenzer advocates for people to do their research before seeing a psychic.
"Just because someone says they are psychic, doesn't mean they see all and know all," said Kenzer, owner of PsychicGirl.com
"It's just like if someone said, 'Oh, I'm a plastic surgeon.' Would you go get your face cut without checking who they are?"
Other thefts happened during psychic readings at the The Psychic Door's previous location in Idyllwild, as well as at business known as The San Bernardino Psychic in San Bernardino, according to the sheriff's department.
Other locations included the couple's homes in Crestline and San Bernardino, along with high-end hotels, investigators said.
On May 20, 2013, deputies arrested the couple while allegedly trying to operate another unlicensed business in Yucaipa.
Cindy and Nick Uwanawich were booked on felony grand theft warrants related to the investigation. Bail was set at $500,000 for each suspect.
Investigators believe there may be other victims. The sheriff's department urged anyone who has information on the investigation to contact Detective Thies at (909)336-0600.
Anyone who believes they have been scammed, can report their claims to the LA County Department of Consumer Affairs.