Issued on 22/3/17 at 2:16 p.m.
A man claiming he could rid a family of mental illness has pleaded guilty to fraud after conning them out of £30,000.
Karamba Tunkara, 35, of Colindale Road, Birmingham, was convicted yesterday (Tuesday 21 March) after a hearing at Leicester Crown Court.
He was sentenced to 18 months in prison, suspended for two years, for fraud by false representation.
Tunkara was initially reported to Leicestershire Trading Standards after a family responded to one of his business cards offering spiritual healing.
The court heard Tunkara preyed on a vulnerable family and made false promises that he could cure them of mental illness. Over a period of 16 months he was given a substantial amount of money to rid a family member of schizophrenia.
The matter was referred to Leicestershire Police and a joint investigation was conducted with trading standards.
PC Adam Makepeace the investigating officer, said: “Tunkara advertised his services under the name of Sheikh Saleem and frightened his victims in to thinking if they didn’t make the payments it would have a negative effect on their health and prospects.
“He had no regard for the effect his actions would have on the family and he preyed on vulnerable people for his own financial gain.
“We are pleased that Tunkara has pleaded guilty, this conviction will hopefully reassure the local community that we take these matters extremely seriously. This was a complex investigation and extensive enquiries were carried out to bring this man to justice.
The victims released the following statement after yesterday’s conviction, they said: “During this very long and painful time, today we, as a family, can breathe more easily. Due to what we have gone through for the last five years or so, it has been a very long and difficult process, however we as a family would like to say please, please do not trust anyone who claims to be a spiritual healer and can help with black magic, if they say they can help you in any other way with your problems don’t do it, stay well clear from those kind of people.
“We don’t want anyone to go through what we have experienced. If you get a card through the letterbox with international spiritual healer with 100% guarantee that it will work it’s not, it’s definitely a scam.”
PC Makepeace, added: “In 2015, following the successful conviction of a bogus faith healer, the force launched an awareness campaign to highlight the dangers of enlisting such services.
“The practise of spiritual healers is one that goes back many years and is mainly associated to the Asian Sub-continent and Africa.
“These individuals are known to advertise their services within those communities and in some cases families and friends of people who have visited the spiritual healers have recommended them.
“The aim of the campaign was to educate communities and raise awareness that these people can’t perform miracles and no one should contact them or recommend their services.
“These people are committing fraud and we would encourage anyone approached in these circumstances to contact the authorities.”
If anyone feels that they need to speak to someone we would encourage you to seek advice from a trained professional such as your GP. If you have been the victim of a similar crime please contact 101.
Leaflets were produced in various languages and we continue to distribute them in areas where these services have been advertised.