The National Post has an article about an old Canadian law being used to prosecute con artists preying on people’s credulity in a number of different supernatural scams. The law prohibits “fraudulently…pretend[ing] to exercise or to use any kind of witchcraft, sorcery, enchantment or conjuration.”
A little-used law that cracks down on “pretend witchcraft” remains in force more than a century after its enactment, but cities across Canada are still crawling with sham conjurers, fake sorcerers and fraudulent psychics…
Last week, his division charged self-described “healer” Gustavo Gomez under Section 365 of the Criminal Code, an archaic law that targets “everyone who fraudulently … pretends to exercise or to use any kind of witchcraft, sorcery, enchantment or conjuration.”
Mr. Gomez reached clients through Spanish-language radio and print ads in Quebec and Ontario, convincing people they were under a curse, then offering to lift it for $10,000 to $15,000.
Toronto Police are now warning of similar “curse-lifters” prowling the city’s Chinese community. They approach elderly Cantonese speakers on the street, warn them of a curse, convince them to fill a bag with valuables for a special ritual, then run off with it.
The scam has been rampant in Vancouver, where con artists will sometimes throw in promises of “lucky jade bracelets” or bottles of “blessed mystical water.”
“We’ve had about seven [incidents] reported to us,” Detective Constable Jay Amundsen of Vancouver police told Postmedia News. “We’re talking about $100,000.”
I’m all for prosecuting such people. But what exactly is the difference between that and what faith healers and prosperity gospel preachers do every day? When a Christian preacher tells their followers that God will heal them or bless them if only they “plant their seed of faith,” that is an identical form of fraud.