A West Palm Beach psychic claims the $10,000 in cash a client had given her to pray over was burned up at a church altar.
The psychic, Sonya Gallego, was given cash after she promised the client that the money would be returned once it had been prayed over in a ceremony to cure the client of her troubles.
Turns out, the client's troubles only got worse, as the cash had not only vanished but Gallego then claimed it was burned up.
The client, Joyce Hewlett, has sued Gallego in Palm Beach County Court, where she claimed she paid the psychic $2,700 for her services following a divorce and the death of close family members.
According to the complaint, Gallego took advantage of Hewlett's emotional distress and convinced Hewlett to give her the remaining $9,000 from her bank account
Gallego then explained that the entire sum would be taken to a church where the psychic would pray over it to cleanse and purify it, thus helping Hewlett with her struggles.
Hewlett claims that Gallego told her the money would be returned after the ceremony.
Several days passed, and nothing happened. Gallego explained to Hewlett that her money had been locked in a box at the church and that more prayer ceremonies were needed, according to the complaint. Gallego again assured Hewlett that her money would be returned the next day.
According to the complaint, Hewlett began insisting Gallego return her money. So the psychic arrived at her home with only $2,000.
When Hewlett asked where the rest of the money was, Gallego said it had been burned at the church.
Hewlett had gotten in contact with Gallego when she found the psychic's business card on her front door.
Gallego, also goes by the names "Sonya Vaughn" and "Sonya Williams."
According to a Sonya Vaughn on Twitter, the psychic is described as "World Renowned, Psychic Reader, Reunites Lovers, Advises On Love, Marriage, Business, Physical, & Mental Health, E.T.C. Refer To The Below Website For More Info."
Vaughn has only four followers, and the majority of her tweets are about visiting her website, which is defunct.
But there are some gems in there, such as a tweet where she asks Justin Bieber fans to call her to get a reading on his future.
WWW.PSYCHICSONYAVAUGHN.COM ..... Find out even Justin Beibers future all you Bieber Fans! He's dating a 34 year old. I read for her!
— Psychic Sonya Vaughn (@PsychicSonyaV) December 17, 2011
I NEED FOLLOWERS PLEASE RT TY SO MUCH GB
— Psychic Sonya Vaughn (@PsychicSonyaV) May 7, 2011
Hewlett was able to get in touch with Gallego, and the two met at a Wellington Walgreens, where the psychic offered her services.
But according to Hewlett's attorney's statement in the complaint, Gallego "preyed upon Hewlett's dire circumstances and desperate emotional state."
The attorney, Cathy Lively, also says that even after the complaint was filed, Gallego continued to try to request more money from Hewlett.
"This was not discretionary income," Lively told Courthouse News. "My client needed the money for ongoing expenses: electricity and rent."
Lively also expressed doubt that the cash Gallego took from Hewlett really was burned up.
Gallego is the sole defendant in the lawsuit.
A phone number from two separate psychic directories for both a Sonya Gallego and Sonya Vaughn turned out to be a wrong number, according to the person who answered it.
"Everyone keeps calling here asking for this name," a woman with a Haitian accent told New Times. "This is the wrong number."
We Believe Local Journalism is Critical to the Life of a City
Engaging with our readers is essential to New Times Broward-Palm Beach's mission. Make a financial contribution or sign up for a newsletter, and help us keep telling South Florida's stories with no paywalls.