The belief in the occult runs deep in some Costa Ricans. In one case, investigators said the belief was 75 million colons deep, about $138,000.
This is how much one Costa Rica woman paid to keep on the right side of spiritual forces. Her guide, according to the Judicial Investigating Organization, was another woman identified as La Maestra Sonia.
Investigators call this type of fraud la bruja, meaning “the witch.”
La Maestra Sonia, a Guatemalan woman, appears to have styled herself as some sort of clairvoyant or seer. Her pronouncement was, according to agents, that the woman’s family was in danger and to save the family some witchcraft was necessary.
To make things right with whatever dark forces were approaching, the woman had to make a sacrifice of 35 million colons (about $65,500) by burning the bills. There is a pretty good chance that the real money never was destroyed, thanks to a little sleight of hand. Investigators later found a stash of fake U.S. banknotes.
Another time the woman was asked to sacrifice 20 million colons, some $37,000. But never mind the expense because the sacrifice was a guarantee to win the national lottery, agents explained.
The investigation began earlier this month after the victim failed to win the lottery and the suspect broke off communications.
Investigators checked out La Maestra Sonia’s base of operations when they arrested her Tuesday morning. They found appointment books and other documents suggesting that the woman had many more customers for spiritual intervention. Agents said those who feel they have been defrauded should file a complaint.
Escazú calls itself the city of the witches because of a woman named María who in Colonial times
pretended to have such powers. Today there are witches, sorcerers and seers all over seeking the money of the gullible. Judicial agents several weeks ago detained a man who patrolled the Plaza de la Cultura looking for believers who would buy his spells. Newspapers, spam emails and even some online classified sites are full of individuals offering spiritual intercession.
La Maestra Sonia’s problem appears to be that she was so successful in getting money from her customers that investigators were attracted to her setup.