An American family of fortune tellers has been charged with cheating $40 million (NZ $48 million) out of customers looking to cure illnesses, end spells of bad luck or mend broken relationships.

For almost 20 years the family has been telling customers that money "money is the root of all evil," convincing people to hand over money, jewellery and other valuables, according to ABC News.

And for 20 years, the scheme worked - the family amassed a Florida home, a yacht, 14 cars - including including four Mercedes Benz, a BMW, a Rolls Royce and a Bentley - and over NZ$2.1 million in gold coins.

Police, who dubbed the investigation 'Operation Crystal Ball', arrested 9 family members, ranging in age from 21 to 60.


The family members are all related either by blood or marriage and many used false names in their practices which included Tarot card readings, palm reading, astrology readings, numerology readings and spiritual readings.

The indictment alleges that the family "told clients that they and their family members or friends would contract terrible diseases, suffer horrible financial hardships, and endure terrible catastrophes, and that loved ones who were already sick would not recover, and that their lives would remain haunted by evil spirits if they did not cleanse their money of those evil spirits," reported ABC.

The indictment includes numerous scenarios involving alleged family curses, some as old as 250 years, that could only be remedied by cleansing of money and valuables.

The 61-count indictment includes charges of conspiracy, mail fraud, wire fraud and money laundering.