Under the headline, "Portland man accuses Hawthorne psychic of defrauding him of $150,000 including cash, Rolexes and a Hummer":
Drakar Druella was struggling with wrenching emotional problems last October when he walked into the Hawthorne Psychic Shop in Southeast Portland for a palm reading and met Cathy Stevens.I love gypsies.
Over the next seven weeks he would give the psychic $150,000 in cash and gifts so she could rid him of his "negative energy" and heal him. Druella says the 39-year-old woman was so convincing, he didn't realize he was being scammed until he heard Stevens launch into the same story with another client.
"That's when it all went 'click, click, click,' " said Druella, 42, who called police in November and is now filing for personal bankruptcy. "The people she was taking advantage of were so vulnerable and in so much emotional pain."
According to the police search warrant affidavit and an interview with Druella, he first paid Stevens $265 for advice on Oct. 8. She told him he had "negative energy" and a demon attached to him, and she could help him get rid of it. But in order to do so, she said she'd need $22,000 to buy a "tabernacle" and she'd conduct an exorcism. She instructed him not to say anything to others and also asked him to turn over to her his personal journals.
Druella said he grew to view Stevens like a "mom" and believed she was "saving " him from death. On one occasion, he went to Lloyd Center with Stevens, and bought four Rolex watches , totaling $37,840. Stevens told him she needed a special component in the watches, also to use toward his healing, he said.
"I've never seen anybody as convincing as her. She could cry on will. Her display of emotion and authenticity. She becomes what you want and need her to be," Druella said.
San Francisco fraud investigator Greg Ovanessian, who teaches nationally about fortune-telling frauds, transient criminals and the gypsy culture, said the question often is raised: "How can someone be so stupid to give this much money for some ritual? It's easier for people to say when they don't have a real understanding of the situation most of these clients, or victims, are in," he said. "They're essentially in a very vulnerable state and are susceptible to suggestion and trickery. People want to believe that things are going to get better. That doesn't mean they deserve to be ripped off."
Madden and Druella suspect that other victims may be too humiliated to come forward. "To others, I'd say , please speak up. Don't be ashamed," Druella said. "Though I'm embarrassed and humiliated, this is about someone who is a predator, who preys upon the vulnerable."