A man describing himself as a faith healer and impurity remover has been arrested after allegedly swindling two women out of $130,000. The man known as Joe Alvarez used the Aventura Mall in South Florida to target his victims, telling them that they needed to be cleansed of their impurities.
Alvarez, 32, approached two different women in the Aventura Mall and told them that the money they had was impure and that they needed to get rid of it. He also advised them to become spiritually pure, which he said he could help with.
"The money that you got that you have is unclean so you have to take it out of the bank and keep it with you, like sleep on it, just keep it with you because of all the cleansing that I am doing with you and your body," one of the victims, Evelyn Taveras, told NBC News. She went on to withdraw $43,000 and hide it under her bed.
"The money was supposed to come back to me but then it's like we got to burn it now, so if you have this big bin, and he just threw it in there and then I'm like, 'My money!' and he's like 'You have to leave, you have to leave… like everything's getting dark. There are spirits that are going to come in, leave fast before the follow you," one of the victims said.
Somehow Alvarez managed to replace the real money with fake money before setting it on fire; it was all part of an elaborate act to collect the money for himself. The other victim in the case, Cassandre Soray, reportedly gave Alvarez $12,500 in one meeting and then gave him several payments of $5,000 for cleansing.
"The defendant in this case has used multiple identities, dates of birth and Social Security numbers," police reports stated. "The defendant has no known state photo identification, and his true name has not been confirmed."
Alvarez is also known as Robert Johnson, Dorian Johnson, Robert Dorian, Joey Alvarez and Bob Johnson. He's currently being held on $16,000 bond and faces two counts of grand theft as well as two counts of obtaining property by gaming.
"Recently I had been becoming more religious and spiritual with energy work, positive thinking and auras… and it struck me as odd that he could see that. I was very upset for being so naïve and gullible," Taveras told the Sun Sentinel. "I felt like, 'What an idiot. How could you fall for this?' It was very demoralizing."