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Psychic charged with fraud

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Sonya...

By Kathianne Boniello

An Auburndale woman claiming to be a fortune teller was arrested Friday and charged with bilking a Long Island man who believed she could reunite him with his estranged wife out of $120,000 since 1997, Queens District Attorney Richard Brown said.

Sonya Costello, 36, of 47-43 Utopia Parkway, was charged with grand larceny, scheming to defraud and fortune telling and could face up to 15 years in jail if convicted, the DA said. Costello allegedly went by the name “Mrs. Rita.”

In 1997 the victim responded to a newspaper ad placed in the Italian language newspaper Oggi by Costello, who claimed to be a psychic with the power to reunite lovers, the DA said.

Costello allegedly told the victim his wife had left him because he and his son were under a curse that could only be removed by sacrificing money, the DA said.

Brown’s office said the victim was believed to have visited Costello at least 30 times between 1997 and 2001.

“After nearly four years of being subjected to rituals, $120,000 poorer and no wife to show for it, the victim reported the scheme to police,” Brown said in a statement. “Sonya Costello played with and fed upon the victim’s emotions.”

In the newspaper ad Costello passed herself off as a spiritualist-healer-counselor with the “power to solve any problem.”

In August 1995 another Bayside psychic — a woman known as "The Seer of Bayside" — died at the age of 72.

Veronica Lueken was a wife and mother of five children who began having religious visions in the late 1960s, when St. Theresa supposedly appeared to her. Before she became a seer, Veronica Lueken and her husband Arthur — who married in Flushing — were living like a regular family.

Lueken continued to see religious apparitions when the Virgin Mary reportedly appeared at her home in 1970 and then proclaimed she would also materialize on the grounds of the St. Robert Bellarmine Church in Bayside later that same year. Crowds of believers converged on her home.

Reach reporter Kathianne Boniello by e-mail at Timesledgr@aol.com or call 229-0300, Ext. 146.

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