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Though Jude Deveraux is talented enough to have had 36 of her novels reach The New York Times Best Seller list, clouded judgment may have led the author to give $20 million to a family of gypsies involved a fortune teller scam.
During testimony in a Fort Lauderdale courtroom on Friday, prosecutors described the victims of the $40 million scheme run by the Marks family, one of which happens to be a bestselling author who lost her 8-year-old son to a motorcycle accident.
Jude Deveraux also lost her son at the same age and in the same way.
Testimony indicated that the author considered the Marks family friends, collaborating with Rose Marks on books about gypsy culture, reports the Sun Sentinel.
Rose Marks apparently told Deveraux that her son was "somewhere between heaven and hell," reports the paper, which likely had something to do with why she spent $20 million on psychic and other spiritual services.
Other victims of the fortune teller scam, which began in 1991, were also in vulnerable states, with the Sentinel reporting that at least one had cancer.
While ordinarily fortune telling businesses licensed with the state do not rise to the level of criminal activity (even if some intrinsically believe them to be scams), the Marks are accused to doing a bit more than offering counseling and spiritual guidance.
Prosecutors have alleged that the family promised it would not spend money it was given, but then refused to return it. They allegedly also told victims that if they did not hand over cash or jewelry, they would be cursed.
So whether or not it turns out that Jude Deveraux has been correctly cited as a victim of the fortune teller scam, these allegations involve criminal activity and are thus no laughing matter.