Police detained the wife of a Greek car dealer for extorting 500,000 EUR(US$732,450) from him by claiming he was under a malicious magic spell.
The police fraud office said Friday that the 63-year-old woman and two alleged accomplices had been arrested. The three women were charged with fraud and setting up a criminal gang.
Nikos Dimitriadis, head of the police's fraud office in Thessaloniki, said the two suspected accomplices were also related to the car dealer. He said the alleged victim had paid out the money over three years, fearing that his son and three grandchildren would die unless he paid for the services of an exorcist.
Police said the suspects led the victim to believe he had been placed under a magic spell and claimed to visit the exorcist on his behalf.
"This case is unprecedented. The victim was being extorted by his own family," Dimitriadis told The Associated Press.
"They received payments of more than 500,000 EUR and were arrested after seeking a final payment of 200,000 EUR(US$293,000) so that the supposed spell would be lifted. That is how we caught them, because we were alerted. Marked bank notes were used to make the payment," he said.
The car dealer borrowed money from relatives and took out a bank loan to make help make the payments, Dimitriadis said.
Police said the car dealer had received anonymous and threatening voice mail messages on his cellular telephone, including recordings of "satanic laughter."