The $14,000 Headache "Cure" Fraud
A 56-year-old woman in Canada was so desperate for relief from her "headaches" that she paid a man over $14,000 for a "spiritual cure."
Maria Roesta was suffering from throbbing "headaches" that her family doctor hadn't been able to help her with, even after various tests, and became depressed. Roesta had never believed in "healers" before, but a friend's son had gone to Gustavo Valencia Gomez for "treatments" and had been satisfied.
Roesta paid $50 for an initial consultation, then began treatment with Gomez. Gomez told her that her headaches were from a curse and that it could be lifted only through rituals...
- In one ritual, lemon oil was put on her body and turned black, which Roesta was told was a sign of the curse.
- In another, worms were used to scare her.
- In yet another "ritual," Roesta was instructed to drink a concoction. Soon thereafter, her stool turned black, and she developed diarrhea.
- In the most frightening, Roesta was instructed to bring photographs of her children with her. When Gomez cracked eggs over the photos, there was blood in the yolks, and Gomez told her that meant her children were marked for death.
Roesta recalls that when she was told her children were marked for death, "I went crazy. I went right to my bank." She ran up credit card debt to pay Gomez. Bank employees started questioning the charges, as did her family, and they convinced her to contact the police.
Gomez has been arrested and charged with pretending to practice witchcraft, fraud, false pretenses, and possession of the proceeds of crime. He is scheduled to appear in court on December 28. Police believe there may be more victims in Quebec and Ontario.
News coverage reports that Roesta's headaches have now been linked to chocolate with almonds.
We must all remember that there are unscrupulous people who prey on people with Migraine and other diseases. When we're desperate, we're likely to feel that almost anything is worth a try, and that makes us vulnerable. We must stay rational enough to evaluate treatment claims and protect ourselves from predators. If there are times when claims seem too good to be true or too outrageous to be true, they probably are. If we're unsure, asking a friend or family member to evaluate them with us is a good option.
Torstar Network. "Terrifying 'magic' used to cure headache curse." mississauga.com. November 28, 2012.
Get the latest Migraine and headache news, informational articles, tips for living well, and more in my free weekly newsletter. To subscribe, CLICK HERE.