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Fortune-teller admits to stealing money to lift 'curses'

Fortune teller arrested
Pidjoe | Getty Images

A fortune-teller in Virginia has pleaded guilty to committing mail fraud and stealing more than $1 million from her former clients in exchange for "lifting their curse."

The Department of Justice said in a news release that 42-year-old self-proclaimed psychic Sandra S. Marks pleaded guilty Tuesday in Charlottesville federal court to one count of mail fraud and one count of money laundering. She faces up to 20 years in prison on each count.

Marks also will have to return at least $1.2 million to her victims.

Assistant United States Attorney Ronald M. Huber says Marks, who was formerly based in Albemarle County, would tell clients they would need to sacrifice large amounts of money so that a "dark cloud" could be lifted. Huber says Marks promised to return the money but never did.

"A fortune teller cons clients out of more than one million dollars, then launders the proceeds and commits mail fraud. This sounds like the plot line for a Hollywood movie," Clark Settles, special agent in charge of Homeland Security Investigations, said in a statement on Tuesday. "Unfortunately, for Ms. Marks' victims, this was reality."

— CNBC's Sarah Whitten contributed to this report.