WASHINGTON — A self-described psychic telling fortunes in New York City apparently failed to foresee her arrest on a warrant from Rockville, Maryland, charging her with fraud.
Erica Ufie, 35, was arrested Friday near “Sunnyside Psychic” parlor in Queens, where she worked. She will face an extradition hearing in New York, according to Rockville Police Lt. Brian Paul.
Ufie was tracked down by a private investigator hired by a 53-year-old Rockville woman, who accuses the fortune-teller of defrauding her of more than $77,000.
“I sent in an operative into the location to verify she was there,” says Bob Nygaard, a private investigator who specializes in the identification and apprehension of fortune-tellers who engage in fraud.
Convinced that the person inside the Queens psychic parlor was Ufie, the woman for whom he’d been searching for seven months, Nygaard tailed her to a nearby dollar store and then called police.
“To be honest, the New York City Police Department — I had a rough time getting them to make the arrest,” Nygaard says, adding that he remained in phone contact with Rockville police while keeping Ufie under surveillance.
Eventually, Ufie was taken into custody inside a 99 Cents Paradise store in Queens. Nygaard recorded the arrest.
“You go in to do some shopping and you come out with silver bracelets from the NYPD on your wrists. It’s not paradise,” says Nygaard.
Nygaard says fraudulent fortune-telling is a growing problem nationwide.
“It’s an epidemic all across this country,” Nygaard says. “People are being emotionally abused and financially decimated at alarming rates, and the loss is astronomical.”
Nygaard, a retired police officer and member of the National Association of Bunco Investigators, says he’s worked on cases with fortune-tellers accused of defrauding someone as much as $900,000, and he was familiar with a Florida case in which a woman claimed to have been defrauded of $15 million by fortune-tellers.