Toronto police are dusting off a witchcraft-related law just in time for Halloween. After a year-long investigation, York Regional Police have charged fortune teller Samantha Stevenson, also known as Evanna Lopez, with fraud, possession of property obtained by crime, and pretending to practice witchcraft, reports the Toronto Star. The latter charge stems from an old law against fraudulently telling fortunes to obtain money, though the CBC reports it might soon be erased. A bill that would lift it and other outdated laws, introduced by Prime Minister Justin Trudeau last year, is close to becoming law. Still, Halton Regional Police Det.-Const. Sarah McCullagh says the charge is appropriate for those who take "advantage of very vulnerable people at a very tough time in their life."
Stevenson, 27, told customers they had a curse, bad energy, or were haunted by ghosts so "you would pay to have her do rituals and cleansing," McCullagh tells the CBC. She describes one person defrauded of $48,000, while CTV News reports a 67-year-old man is out $450,000. According to police, Stevenson told him to sell his house and transfer the money to her for safekeeping until evil spirits had dispersed. Police say the man also sold his car and used credit cards to pay Stevenson other sums, including $4,500 she said needed to be burned to ward off spirits. Stressing that the witchcraft law doesn't affect psychics operating for entertainment, McCullagh has this advice for people seeking them out: "Make sure they're reputable … and if you are told there's a curse on you, don't believe them." (This US case is similar.)