A fortune teller and “faith healer” who went by the name “Carlos” in Riverside allegedly used a voodoo doll, religious and satanic objects, and a small live snake to convince a woman and her family that they were cursed, ultimately taking $50,000 from her, police said.
Police believe there may be more possibly victims.
Andres Pena Meneses, 31, of Riverside was arrested Oct. 26 on suspicion of felony grand theft and theft by false pretenses after officers served a search warrant at his home in the 3500 block of Arlington Avenue.
The investigation into the fortune teller began in the summer after a woman had her fortune read. Meneses, a Colombian national who went by “Carlos,” convinced her she had parasites in her body and he needed to clear her of them — after she paid several hundred dollars, Riverside police said.
But it didn’t end there.
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Police said he later contacted her again, convincing her that her family was in danger.
He allegedly told her the family was cursed, and he needed money to help clear the curse.
Ultimately police said she paid $50,000 to Meneses.
Detectives then learned it wasn’t the first time Meneses had been in trouble. He has a prior conviction in 2019 in Chicago for fraud. He convinced victims he was a faith healer and took money, police said.
After serving the search warrant, investigators found a voodoo doll, live snake, tarot cards, and religious and satanic objects.
What’s more, while officers were serving the search warrant, multiple customers arrived.
They brought mattresses from home after Meneses told them to.
They told detectives that Meneses said he would cut open the mattresses, and if he found a live snake inside – or other satanic items — that meant they were cursed.
A small python snake was discovered in a carrying container as investigators conducted the search.
Investigators also said they found more victims who had heard radio advertisements from “Carlos” offering to heal them of diabetes, nightmares, sleeps disorders, or headaches.
Meneses was booked in the Robert Presley Detention Center, but was released after posting $57,000 bail the next day.
It wasn’t immediately clear if Meneses had an attorney.
Anyone who has been in contact with Meneses or believes they might be victims is asked to call police at Detective Cory Camp at (951) 353-7117, or email [email protected].
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