Campaigners have urged the Government to give officials greater powers to tackle ‘faith healers’ who con people out of thousands of pounds.
Members of Leicester’s branch of the Indian Workers’ Association, (IWA), met Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg this week to explain to him how people in the city are being ripped off.
An unknown number of tricksters are operating in the city, advertising in foreign language newspapers or by putting business cards through letterboxes or leaving them on car windscreens.
Many claim to be able to use prayer to lift curses, heal broken marriages and solve financial problems. Others say they can cure illnesses including cancer and HIV.
Sital Singh Gill, leader of the IWA in Leicester met Mr Clegg in London to explain that branches of the group across the country are aware of cases.
Mr Gill told Mr Clegg that a number of fake faith healers are based in the UK while others travel to the country on visitor visas and make huge sums of cash before leaving.
He said: “Ministers were surprised and shocked on hearing what was going on and agreed to look at the matter seriously and respond to the concerns raised by the IWA.
“We will carry on our campaign against these criminals who are exploiting innocent British people.”
He added that police and trading standards officials in Leicester were taking the issue “very seriously”.
The Mercury is aware of a number of cases of people handing over tens of thousands of pounds to criminals who then say meaningless prayers or perform rituals for them.
In September, Leicestershire Police said it had put together a team of officers to find out more about the scale of the problem and find ways of tackling it.
Leading members of the city’s faith groups have backed the police campaign.
Leicester City Council’s trading standards team monitors leaflets and business cards circulated in the city, as well as adverts in some foreign language papers.
However, it receives only a small number of formal complaints.
Manager Ron Ruddock said: “This type of scam preys on the most vulnerable people and will offer to cure diseases or to mend broken relationships.
“Anyone with health problems should visit their GP and we would be very worried about people relying on a faith healer instead of proper medical care.
“There are genuine organisations out there for people who need help with their health or any other aspects of their lives.
“Do not line the pockets of fraudsters who make false and empty promises.”
Read more: http://www.leicestermercury.co.uk/Campaigners-Government-increase-powers-tackle/story-23885350-detail/story.html#ixzz3OoG76h5i
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