Florida

The true power of this ‘psychic:’ defrauding a medical school student out of $550,000

Sherry Uwanawich
Sherry Uwanawich Broward Sheriff's Office

Jacklyn Miller spoke of God-given supernatural psychic abilities to the medical school student she befriended, powers that allowed her to sense the generations-old curse placed on the student’s family.

But as she could sense the curse, Miller told the woman, identified in court documents as V.G., so could she remove it. It just required time. And money.

Seven years and $550,000 later, V.G. learned the only curse she lived with was the presence of Miller (real name: Sherry Uwanawich) in her life. And Uwanawich’s only power turned out to be spotting a vulnerable mark for her pseudo psychic scam.

That’s not the kind of power that’s likely to fade as 28-year-old Uwanawich serves the three-year, four-month prison sentence she got Friday in West Palm Beach federal court after pleading guilty to one count of wire fraud. Uwanawich also got assigned $1.6 million in restitution, although court documents say Uwanawich suckered V.G. out of $550,000.

While fleecing V.G., Uwanawich moved to South Florida, living in Fort Lauderdale, Boca Raton and Boynton Beach. V.G. sent some of the money to Uwanawich from Houston to South Florida by Western Union wire transfer. That put the fraud in the wire fraud column and made the case eligible for federal court.

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According to the indictment and Uwanawich’s admission of facts, she met V.G. at a Houston shopping mall in 2007 while the medical student was trying to deal with various life problems and depression. Uwanawich posed as “Jacklyn Miller,” a “spiritual counselor or psychic who could possibly help” V.G. Uwanawich talked the troubled 27-year-old young woman into letting her do a psychic reading.

“The defendant claimed to possess God-given powers which would enable her to determine the root cause of her depression and whether a curse had been placed on the victim or her family,” Uwanawich’s admission states.

Mutual conversation about family begat V.G.’s trust. She began seeing Uwanawich twice a week. And, soon, Uwanawich “began to ask the victim for a few hundred dollars here and there for ‘materials’ such as candles and crystals, which she claimed she needed to conduct her alleged ‘spiritual work’ which supposedly involved mediations at various secret locations.”

V.G. gave up the money then. And it began to pour from her when Uwanawich said her “spiritual work” determined a witch in South America, V.G.’s native continent, placed a curse on V.G.’s mother.

The curse killed her mother, Uwanawich said. The curse needed to be lifted or it would continue to ruin V.G.’s life as well as her family’s.

“(Uwanawich) told the victim she would need large sums of money to work with to remove the alleged curse,” the admission of facts states. “Being in a fragile state, the victim fully believed the defendant and began to give the defendant various sums of money in fear for her safety and wellbeing.”

V.G., still in medical school, took out student loans. She worked extra shifts at a night club, then even longer hours. She borrowed from friends and family and took out more loans to pay Uwanawich with gift cards, clothes and even a leased car.

“Eventually, (V.G.) gave (Uwanawich) hundreds of thousands of dollars from an inheritance she received after her father passed away,” the admission states.

In 2008, Uwanawich moved to Fort Lauderdale, but she retained a manipulative hold on V.G. That showed in wire transfers and deposits directly into Uwanawich-controlled bank accounts though, V.G. sank deeper into financial quicksand.

V.G. “continued to give money to (Uwanawich) based upon the continued belief that the money was necessary to protect the victim from an alleged curse.”

And then V.G. visited Uwanawich in 2014. That January, Uwanawich had avoided being evicted from the Boca Raton house she was renting.

She admitted her seven years of lies to V.G.

“She explained that she came from a family in which “fortune telling” was part of the tradition and claimed that she wanted to break from that lifestyle,” the admission of facts says.

In 2017, Uwanawich was found guilty of retail theft after, a police report says, a Publix manager in Boynton Beach spotted her trying to shoplift seven bottles of Advil, a pack of Boars Head muenster cheese, a pack of Boars Head maple turkey and a box of Keebler Sandies Cookies.

Since 1989, David J. Neal’s domain at the Miami Herald has expanded to include writing about Panthers (NHL and FIU), Dolphins, old school animation, food safety, fraud, naughty lawyers, bad doctors and all manner of breaking news. He drinks coladas whole. He does not work Indianapolis 500 Race Day.
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