THE art of practising black magic in TT has become the subject of a police and immigration investigation, the suspects being nationals from India.
In July last year, Newsday published a story about a woman falling victim to the scam, having paid money to predict the outcome of her love life.
Scores of people had complained to Newsday about being fleeced and, in some cases, sexually harassed by charlatans from India who had set up shops on High Street, San Fernando and along the Southern Main Road, Chaguanas.
Schoolchildren and elderly women are their primary targets, and on Friday and Saturday last week police picked up six men and one woman on High Street in connection with the criminal activity. They were handing out leaflets advertising palm reading, protection from black magic, witchcraft, voodoo, evil spirits, obeah and negative energy.
The suspects held are from south India and, according to a police report, they told police that they are spiritualists. On Monday, they were taken to the Immigration office, San Fernando, where officers discovered that they had been staying in TT illegally.
Attorneys Indira Binda and Shodan Mahabir were asked to represent the seven at the Immigration office and officials from the Indian High Commission, Port of Spain, were contacted.
The report said the matter of the Indians distributing pamphlets, especially to school children and elderly people, was discussed with Binda, Mahabir and the high commission’s officials. The Indians were released after airline tickets were bought for their departure on Monday.
Immigration officials confirmed to Newsday that based on the interviews, there were approximately 45 non-nationals in TT who were operating "spiritual parlours" in San Fernando, Princes Town and Chaguanas.
Stemming from that, a quasi tribunal is to be set up in the next two weeks comprising police, attorneys and immigration, to enquire whether there is any fraud in the alleged practice of black magic, palm reading and fortune telling. The tribunal is to be established in the next three weeks, Newsday was told.
In July, fraud squad detectives investigated a report from a prominent business family living in Gulf View, who reportedly lost $145,000 in their quest to find a "prince" from India to marry their daughter. At about the same time, a woman told Newsday that one of the “spiritualists” requested $9,000 “to save my life.”