Faux 'shaman' jailed for 10 years for fraud

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LONDON (AP) — A fraudulent faith healer who convinced victims she was a shaman and conned them out of almost 1 million pounds ($1.7 million) was sentenced Friday to 10 years in jail.

A British jury convicted London-based Juliette D'Souza of ripping off clients who went to her for help with problems ranging from illness to job worries.

Prosecutors said D'Souza convinced them to hand over money, saying it was a "sacrifice" that would be hung off a sacred tree in the Amazon rainforest as a spiritual offering before being returned.

In fact the money was never sent or returned, but used to buy designer handbags, luxury holidays and antique furniture.

Passing sentence at London's Blackfriars Crown Court, Judge Ian Karsten said 59-year-old D'Souza had "wrecked the lives" of her victims out of pure greed.

He said the fraudster subjugated her victims until they became "entirely dependent on her." In one case, she told a woman to pay 18,000 pounds or her partner would die.

"To reinforce their dependence on you, you initially saw to it that they were cut off from their friends and family," the judge said. "You warned them about the 'evil temperament' of the people to whom they were close."

He gave her D'Souza the maximum sentence possible for her crimes.

Sylvia Eaves, a retired opera singer who was duped out of more than 350,000 pounds, said outside court that she was relieved D'Souza would not target anyone else.

"She relieved me of a lot of money, but I'm still here," Eaves said.

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