Reading Time: 2 minutes

A “psychic” from California was arrested after conning a gullible woman out of over $50,000. (Cue all the jokes about how he didn’t see this coming.)

Andres Pena Meneses (a.k.a. “Carlos”) advertised himself as someone who could read customers’ fortunes, and a woman took him up on that. Because she apparently saw fortune-telling as legitimate, Meneses told her she was suffering from parasites but that he could remove them. She gave him “several hundred dollars” to take care of the problem.

His next thought must have been: Why stop there?

Meneses later contacted the woman and told her that her family was cursed and her children were in danger, police alleged.

“‘Through his false pretenses, the victim ended up paying ‘Carlos’ over $50,000,” according to the statement.

In case there’s any doubt about his intentions — and lack of any actual supernatural powers — investigators found items in his home, like a live snake, that he used to convince people they were in danger:

… Customers at the business told investigators that “Carlos” had told them to bring their mattresses from home. They said Meneses and his staff would cut open the mattress “and claim to have found the live snake inside with demonic-type items and letters stating the victims’ family was in danger,” police said.

There were also the Jim Bakker-type lies about how he had the power to cure things like diabetes.

Meneses was charged with “theft by false pretenses” and “grand theft.” What happens to him doesn’t matter to me as much as how many people he conned before he finally got caught. Sure, he took $50,000 from one victim, but it’s possible he’s taken plenty of cash from people who didn’t go to the police about it because they believed he had actually helped them.

It’s not entertainment when people take con artists seriously.

(Thanks to Scott for the link)

Avatar photo

Hemant Mehta is the founder of, a YouTube creator, podcast co-host, and author of multiple books about atheism. He can be reached at @HemantMehta.