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You can make a successful business out of anything that customers are willing to pay for, but where is the line between capitalism and theft?  When businesses intentionally mislead customers about the benefits or effectiveness of their products or services, the business owners can face civil or criminal penalties. 

Look at the numerous multi-level marketing companies that have been forced to close after making outsized claims about the health benefits of the nutritional supplements they sold or about the chances of participants building a profitable business by joining the multilevel marketing network. 

For that matter, look at the currently ongoing criminal trial against Elizabeth Holmes regarding the fraudulent claims she allegedly made about her laboratory testing company Theranos.  If you are being accused of theft or fraud in your capacity as a business owner, contact a Los Angeles theft crimes defense lawyer.

Defendant Accused of Charging Customer $50,000 to Rid Her Family of a Curse

As a young man, Andres Pena Meneses set up shop in Chicago, advertising his services as a faith healer, but by the end of 2019, he had been convicted of stealing from customers.  The KTLA news website did not specify what sentence Meneses received in the Chicago case, but by 2021, he had moved to Los Angeles and set up a business as a fortune teller. 

The victim who reported Meneses to the police said that she went to his shop to have her fortune read.  He introduced himself as Carlos and said that he was from Colombia.  Upon reading the victim’s fortune, he told her that she had parasites in her body, but that he could get rid of them for a fee of several hundred dollars, which she paid.  After that session, Meneses contacted the victim and told her that she and her family were cursed and that he could remove the curse.  The victim made several payments to Meneses, totaling more than $50,000 before suspecting that she had been defrauded.

When detectives arrived to search Meneses’ shop, they interviewed several customers.  The customers said that, in previous sessions, Meneses had instructed them to bring their bed mattresses.  He would open the mattresses and take out statues and, in some instances, live snakes.  Upon searching the shop, detectives found many religious objects, tarot cards, and voodoo dolls, as well as a small live python and thousands of dollars in cash. 

The detectives arrested Meneses.  He is now facing criminal charges for grand theft and theft by false pretenses.  If he is convicted, the court may order him to pay restitution to the victims he defrauded, in addition to imposing other criminal penalties such as a prison sentence.

Contact the Manshoory Law Group About Accusations of Theft by Deception

A Los Angeles criminal defense lawyer can help you if you are a business owner accused of stealing from customers by deceiving them.  Your initial consultation is always free, so contact our lawyers at the Manshoory Law Group in Los Angeles, California, or call (877)977-7750 to discuss your case.

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