Fake guru Mohammed Ashrafi’s conviction and sentence was met with praise for Leicestershire Police from the Asian community and the judge in the case.
The Indian Workers Association (IWA) and the Asian Rationalist Society Britain (ARSB) both issued statements saying they hoped the case would send a strong message to other fake gurus.
They urged other victims of Ashrafi or similar con artists to come forward.
Sital Singh Gill, secretary of the Leicestershire’s IWA branch, which actively campaigns against fake gurus and babas, said: “These fakes claim to have supernatural powers which can be used to alleviate financial, personal health and marital problems.
“It’s very worrying that thousands of pounds are taken from victims on the premise that the fake guru/baba will bring good luck, rid them of evil spirits and even cure their illnesses.
“The more vulnerable the person the more money they’re likely to be conned out of.
“It’s almost the perfect crime, where the perpetrator could cheat people out of small fortunes and never be held to account – often people are too embarrassed to come forward.”
Sachdev Virdee, general secretary of the ARSB, said: “We welcome the jury’s decision
“Ashrafi has ruined people’s retirements, health and family relationships.
“The ARSB would like to praise the courage of the victims in coming forward despite social pressure or stigma attached to it.
“We hope it encourages others who’ve been victims of these charlatan predators to come forward – something can be done.”
Of Ashrafi’s activities, Mr Virdee said: “We believe this case is just the tip of the iceberg.
“We know investigations into his activities in Birmingham, London and Canada are continuing.”
After the case, Judge Robert Brown publicly commended the Leicestershire Police team of investigating officers, including Detective Constables Joanna Brown and Lorna Granville, for the sensitive, thorough and professional way they handled the inquiry.
The judge said: “This is good police work.”
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