1. Headline
  1. Headline
msnbc.com staff and news service reports
updated 8/21/2011 6:37:56 AM ET 2011-08-21T10:37:56

Prosecutors say a family amassed $40 million in a fortune-telling scam, warning victims that if they didn't follow their advice, terrible things would happen to them or their loved ones.

  1. Stories from
    1. Keeping Up with the Kardashians Recap: The Family Is Outraged over Caitlyn Jenner's Vanity Fair Article, Kris Jenner Decides to Leave Town
    2. Alfonso Ribeiro to Fill in for Tom Bergeron on DWTS While He Stays by Sick Father's Bedside: Source
    3. Caleb Logan of the Popular YouTube Family the Bratayleys Has Died at the Age of 13
    4. It's a Girl for Alaska: The Last Frontier's Eivin and Eve Kilcher - See Her First Photo
    5. 12 Real-Life Harry Potter Destinations You Can Visit

Details spilled out in federal court Friday after eight people were arrested earlier this week.

Assistant U.S. Attorney Laurence Bardfeld said victims who were going through vulnerable phases forked over cash, gold coins and jewelry. The defendants promised victims they wouldn't spend the money, but then refused to return it.

The Sun Sentinel reported that one victim, a bestselling author, gave an estimated $20 million.

Citing "several sources," the newspaper identified that victim as Jude Deveraux, author of dozens of New York Times bestsellers.

'Operation Crystal Ball'
Authorities started investigating in 2007 after a victim complained about losing $3,000.

The Sun Sentinel said other alleged victims included a person from Japan who handed over $496,000.

According to NBCMiami, the multi-agency, multi-state investigation was dubbed "Operation Crystal Ball."

An attorney for one family member said the clan provided counseling for victims who had nowhere to turn.

The Associated Press and msnbc.com staff contributed to this report.


Discussion comments


Most active discussions

  1. votes comments
  2. votes comments
  3. votes comments
  4. votes comments

More on TODAY.com

  1. @HillaryClinton/twitter

    Hillary Clinton: Granddaughter led me 'to speed up' political plans

    4/10/2015 3:58:42 PM +00:00 2015-04-10T15:58:42
  1. Courtesy Bryan Morseman

    Marathon dad's victories help raise money for son with spina bifida

    4/10/2015 5:54:50 PM +00:00 2015-04-10T17:54:50
  1. YouTube

    8 great celebrity impressions of other celebrities

    4/10/2015 6:44:22 PM +00:00 2015-04-10T18:44:22