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October 17, 2013

Fortuneteller investigated for offering to remove curses

SALEM, Mass. — Police are looking into complaints that a fortuneteller in the so-called Witch City is charging customers to lift evil curses placed on them.

Fatima's Psychic Studio is a 20-year fixture in Salem, which was the setting of the 17th century witch trials and is now a popular tourist destination in the weeks leading to Halloween.

Police are looking into complaints involving four customers from out of town, including one filed by a man from New York state who says he paid $16,800 to have a "shield placed over him to protect him" and to "channel angels," according to a report filed with the city's Licensing Board.

The report, filed by Detective Sgt. James Page, said another complaint involved a New Jersey man who went to Fatima’s in August and was told he had a curse that the fortuneteller would remove for $500. The man declined but a few days later received a call from the reader asking again if he wanted the curse removed. The man said he refused a second time.

A city ordinance defines fortunetelling as “the telling of fortunes, forecasting of futures or reading the past," Page noted in his report, but curse removal isn't covered. The Licensing Board will meet Oct. 28 to consider renewing Fatima's license, which police said expired about a year ago.

Fatima's owner Harry Mitchell said he will respond to the questions raised in the report at that meeting. He told the board this week he has always been licensed but forgot to renew last year.

Asked by a reporter about the complaints, Mitchell denied wrongdoing and said he was “in discussions” with one of the customers in question.

Seperately Mitchell told police one complaint was due to a "misunderstanding and that he would speak with the reader to make sure it did not happen again," according to the detective's report.

Of the four complaints against Fatima's, two were recent, one was from last year, and another was a decade old. Page said there are no similar complaints against any other city fortunetellers or psychics.

Tom Dalton is a reporter for The Salem, Mass., News.

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