WOODLAND HILLS—A self-proclaimed psychic and fortune teller was arrested for multiple grand theft charges on Tuesday, January 17.
Melissa Lee, 28, was detained by Los Angeles Police Department officers for allegedly defrauding victims of nearly $100,000.
According to a press release sent to Canyon News by private investigator, Bob Nygaard, Lee was arrested at her residence in Woodland Hills after the police were tipped off by Nygaard. Nygaard had been investigating Lee for over 3 years after being hired by one of her alleged victims.
According to Nygaard, Lee operated out of various fortune telling residences and parlors. She used several aliases, such as, “Miss Eve,” “Miss Eva,” “Elaine,” and “Psychic Lotus Life Coach.”
According to authorities, there are at least five known victims that Lee is alleged to have defrauded.
The one commonality that all the victims share in Lee’s fraud schemes is that she targeted people based on their religion.
“Lee appears to have specifically targeted victim’s once she learned they were Christians by playing up the fact that she was claiming to be “doing God’s work,” said Nygaard. “Lee used a lot of religious terminology during the course of her alleged scams in order to better gain the confidence and trust of her alleged victims.”
He explained that Lee used psychological manipulation as a tactic to steal victims’ money by appearing to offer them help with their problems.
“Lee is alleged to have conned the alleged victims into believing that problems they were experiencing in their lives, related to love, money, or health, were the result of ‘curses,’ ‘negativity,’ and ‘evil spirits,’ that were plaguing them,” said Nygaard.
According to the Nygaard, Lee’s victims included a 42 year-old former member of the US Navy, a 25 year-old aspiring actress, a 36 year-old mother of two, a 24 year-old college student, and a young woman from Altadena, CA.
Lee pleaded not guilty to four counts of grand theft of personal property on January 18. If convicted, Lee could be facing up to 5 years in prison. She is due back in court on Tuesday, January 31.