Things That Matter

Lori Loughlin And Husband, Target Fashion Designer Mossimo Giannulli Plead Not Guilty To New Charges, Now Face 50 Years In Prison

The college admission scandal is not letting up and is actually intensifying for actress Lori Loughlin. On September 13, actress Felicity Huffman was sentenced to 14 days in prison for participating in the college admission scam but was released two days early. In total, 51 people were indicted for giving money to Key Worldwide Foundation — a fake organization  — in order for their children to attend affluent universities. Their involvement in the nationwide college admission scandal resulted in millions of donations. It seems that the more money you donated, the heftier the sentence appears to be. In Huffman’s case, she donated $15,000; however, she, unlike the other parents, pleaded guilty. One couple is not giving in, however, and it looks like they might have to pay a heftier price because of it. 

Actress Lori Loughlin and her husband, Target fashion designer Mossimo Giannulli, have pleaded not guilty to another charge in the college admission scandal and now face a combined 50 years in prison.

Credit: oliviajade / Instagram

The couple has already been charged with conspiracy to commit money laundering, conspiracy to commit mail fraud and honest services mail fraud. Last month, they were charged with federal programs bribery, and they pleaded not guilty. 

CNN reports “the new charge accuses Loughlin and Giannulli of bribing University of Southern California employees to get their daughters admitted. USC coaches and athletics officials allegedly designated the daughters as recruited athletes, easing their admission regardless of their athletic ability, prosecutors said.”

While Loughlin and her family seem to be putting on a brave face, sources say it’s actually quite a mess.

Credit: oliviajade / Instagram

According to People magazine, things in the Loughlin-Giannulli household does not appear to be in cozy conditions, which is a big distinction from what they purport it to be. Their new charges from last month just made things worse. 

“The entire family is in chaos right now,” a source close to Loughlin told People magazine. “They knew this was a possibility, but they thought perhaps it was just a bargaining tool from the prosecution. Now that the charges are official, they are realizing that there is no way to avoid a moderately long prison sentence unless they are found not guilty in a trial.”

One of the reasons, Loughlin and her family have gotten more scrutiny and criticism is due to their lack of remorse, radiant appearance in court, and her daughter’s flightiness on Instagram.

Credit: oliviajade / Instagram

During her first court appearance, Loughlin walked into the courtroom but not before taking pictures with fans and signing autographs. Her daughters — Isabella Rose and Olivia Jade — seem to be going on with life as usual according to social media. Olivia Jade has deleted some fickle pictures on social media after her mother was charged, including flipping off the camera. Loughlin “donated” $500,000 to Key Worldwide Foundation in order for her daughters to get into the University of Southern California (USC).

The ring leader of Key Worldwide Foundation, Rick Singer, has already pleaded not guilty for his crimes and is facing up to 65 years in prison and a fine of $1.25 million.

Earlier this year, Singer pleaded guilty to “charges of racketeering conspiracy, money laundering conspiracy, conspiracy to defraud the United States and obstruction of justice,” ABC News reports. He is scheduled to be sentenced until next spring. 

People on social media are quite livid that privilege white people are getting better treatment from the justice system while poverty-stricken parents pay a bigger price for lesser crimes.

Credit: @breakradio / Twitter

In September, another school scandal went viral but this time it was because a homeless mom got a 5-year sentence for using someone else’s address so their child could go to a better school. People on social media made a point to show their huge discrepancy between that case and Huffman’s 14-day sentence. 

To make matters even worse, there’s already a movie in the works based on the college admission scandal. 

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According to a statement by A+E executives, the movie, as of now, titled “College Admissions Scandal,” “will follow two wealthy mothers who share an obsession with getting their teenagers into the best possible college. When charismatic college admissions consultant Rick Singer offers a side door into the prestigious institutions of their dreams, they willingly partake with visions of coveted acceptance letters in their heads.” We can totally see Huffman and Loughlin jumping at the chance to play those roles. 

READ: We Haven’t Fully Recovered From The Frustration And Anger With The Aunt Becky College Scandal But Lifetime Is Already Working On A Movie

A Woman Scammed People Out Of $100,000 By Saying She Was A Psychic

Things That Matter

A Woman Scammed People Out Of $100,000 By Saying She Was A Psychic

Scam

At some point in our lives, we’ve all wished for some magical way to boost our cash flow—and earlier this year, several people thought they’d found it. Perlita Afancio-Balles, a 29-year old woman living in Sacramento, claimed that she was “psychic” and promised her clients that if they paid her, she would “bless” them by doubling their money. In total, Afancio-Balles scammed people out of more than $100,000, amounting to a federal felony charge for grand theft and obtaining money by false pretenses.

The scam first came to media attention back in October, when Afancio-Balles fled Sacramento after receiving the initial payment from her victims. Police told Fox40 News that Afancio-Balles had instructed victims to leave their money with her for a few days.

She promised that when they returned for the money, double the original amount would be waiting for them. But when the victims did so, Afancio-Balles was nowhere to be found.

Credit: Sacramento Police Department

Now, after being on the run for almost three months, Afancio-Balles is at the top of the Sacramento Police Department’s “most wanted” list. The Sacramento Police are seeking information about her whereabouts in order to bring justice to the fraud victims.

“Ultimately, most of these victims, or all of these victims, believed the psychic and gave her money. And, eventually, the suspect fled with all the money that was given to her,” said Sacramento Police Officer Karl Chan. “She also targeted the Spanish-speaking community.”

Afancio-Balles, who went by the name “Eva Maria,” lived in the neighborhood of South Natomas, where most of her victims also reside. According to the U.S. Census Bureau, 30% of South Natomas residents are Latino or Hispanic. Afancio-Balles, as well as most of the people she scammed, belong to this demographic.

While her case is certainly extreme, Afancio-Balles’ story is not unique. Psychic scammers have long been at large in different parts of the world, targeting people who are desperate for financial stability. For con artists, feigning supernatural powers can be an effective way of acquiring very large sums of money very quickly.

Over the past few years, several situations like that of Afancio-Balles came to light, and numerous false psychics ended up behind bars.

Credit: Pinterest

In May of 2018, a clairvoyant known as “Psychic Zoe” was arrested by the New York Police Department for defrauding clients out of more than $800,000. Taking advantage of vulnerable clients in a fragile emotional state, Psychic Zoe—whose real name is Ann Thompson—convinced one woman to buy her a 9.2 carat diamond ring, claiming that if she did not, she would never love again.

Later that same year, Gina Marks was sentenced to six years in prison after pleading guilty to committing felony theft against five of her clients. Overall, she stole more than $340,000 after telling her victims that she could cast love spells and “cure them of curses.” Like Afancio-Balles, Marks also went by a different name professionally: her clients knew her as Natalie Miller. And just as Afancio-Balles did, Marks tried to flee after customers started reporting her suspicious activity. Marks was caught by a private investigator at the Miami International Airport, where she was ultimately arrested. Afancio-Balles is currently still at large.

And in fall of this year, Sherry Unwanawich—known to clients as Jacquelin Miller—was sentenced to 40 months in prison for swindling a single victim into paying $1.6 million over the course of several years for protection from a “curse.” The victim was allegedly grieving the death of her mother and struggling with medical school when she was led to believe that her family would be in danger from fake curse if she failed to pay.

Private investigator Bob Nygaard played a significant role in the cases of both Marks and Unwanawich—in fact, Marks was the very first psychic scammer that Nygaard investigated, catapulting his new career in this niche field of detective work. Nygaard is a former New York City police officer who has aided authorities in dozens of con artist cases, specifically in instances of false supernatural claims. In 2015, he estimated that he had recovered over $3 million for 21 victims across those dozen cases. But he says the overall number of defrauded funds in cases like these amounts to much more.

“The amount of money that these people are defrauded of by these self-proclaimed psychics is astronomical,” he said. “We’re talking in the billions of dollars.”

Nygaard says that police departments and district attorney offices don’t often take psychic crime seriously, often dismissing it as a “civil problem.” But as cases like these continue to emerge, the legal landscape is starting to change. In the case of Afancio-Balles, the Sacramento Police Department is remaining vigilant, requesting information from the public that might help locate her. 

A Man From Texas Has Been Charged With Carving His Name Into His Girlfriend’s Forehead

Things That Matter

A Man From Texas Has Been Charged With Carving His Name Into His Girlfriend’s Forehead

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Domestic abuse, whether it entails physical violence or emotional abuse, continues to be a national crisis. Particularly among women of color and those who are undocumented. According to the National Coalition Against Domestic Violence, 1 in 4 women and 1 in 9 men experience severe intimate partner physical violence. The organization whose mission is to change the conditions that can lead to domestic violence such as patriarchy, privilege, racism, sexism, and classism, has also reported that in the United States an average of about 20 people per minute are physically abused by an intimate partner. A new court case out of Texas is highlighting the severity of which these abusive relationships can excel to. 

WARNING: the details in this story are graphic and can be traumatizing or triggering to some.

Recently, police in Texas filed criminal charges against a man who allegedly used a knife to carve his name into his girlfriend’s forehead.

Police in Texas say that 19-year-old n was arguing with his girlfriend, 22- year-old Catalina Mireles when things became violent on December 5th. At some point in the argument, Hildreth is reported to have grabbed Mireles by the neck and then hit her in the face about 10 times. Soon after, a police affidavit says that he took hold of a knife and “carved his name onto her forehead.” Soon after, he fled from the apartment. He was arrested on Friday.

Mireles told the local police that she thought she was going to die. “He was going to put in the closet until he figured out what he was going to do with my body,” she told police.

According to KSAT,  Hildreth has a history of domestic and family violence. The police affidavit also stated that he had two outstanding warrants — one for burglary assault and another for assault of family assault. 

Pictures of Mireles after the assault, emerged on outlets such as The New York Post on Monday morning.

In the images, Mireles can be seen suffering from a black eye, with bruises across the side of her face, jaw, and lips and the name ‘Jack’ scratched into her head. 

Speaking to KSAT, Mirele’s mother said that her daughter was “scared for her life.” “He tried to kill her,” Mireles’ mother, Juanita Lopez, told the outlet. “I don’t ever want him to get out again — because he’s going to hurt someone else again.”

Hildreth was jailed on Sunday on a $75,000 bond.

If you or someone you know is experiencing domestic violence, please call the National Domestic Violence Hotline at 1-800-799-7233, or go to thehotline.org. All calls are toll-free and confidential. The hotline is available 24/7 in more than 170 languages. Online chat is available 24/7/365 in Spanish. Get help without saying a word.

There are many ways that abuse can be identified. By the way your partner treats you physically, by the way, they treat you emotionally, and by how you feel about the relationship. This checklist of signs of abuse is one tool that you can use to see if you, or someone you know, is a victim of abuse.

And remember, more resources for dealing with abuse can be found by calling The National Domestic Violence Hotline on 1800 799 7233.

1. They have grabbed you and refused to let go.

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This falls into the category of physical abuse. No-one should grab you to make you feel threatened and unsafe. No-one.

2. They have pulled your hair.

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This is another form of physical abuse. Sure, a bit of hair pulling in the act of passion is fine. But when it happens as part of an argument, or when your partner is deliberately trying to hurt you or make you feel threatened, that is abuse.

3. They have thrown things at you and/or destroyed your belongings.

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One way your significant other may try to control you is through your belongings. Throwing things at you and destroying your belongings is designed to hurt you physically and emotionally. Threatening to do so also falls under this category of behavior, too.

4. They have left you with bruises, black eyes, bleeding, and/or broken bones.

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While abuse doesn’t necessarily have to leave marks on your body, a sure sign of physical abuse in your relationship is when your partner does leave marks. Research shows that once it happens the first time, a “threshold” of sorts has been crossed, and an abuser is more likely to hurt their partner again.

5. They have threatened to hurt or kill you.

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It may not seem like abuse, since there are no physical marks left from a threat to hurt or kill you. However, these threats are still part of the arsenal of tools that abusers use. How? Because these threats are designed to control your behavior, and make you feel powerless. Abuse in a relationship is about the abuser gaining and maintaining power, and death threats are a way of emotionally controlling you.

6. They have threatened to take your children away or harm them.

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Even if you have children together, children shouldn’t be used as a bargaining chip in your relationship. Even more importantly, your children’s safety is non-negotiable: no partner of yours should threaten it. By the way, this doesn’t just apply to children. Pets can also be used to manipulate and control you in a relationship.

7. They have forced you to have sex.

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Sex is not a “duty” to be fulfilled in a loving, equal relationship. Nor should your partner guilt trip or manipulate you into participating in sex acts after you have refused sex. Consent needs to be freely given! It doesn’t matter how long the two of you have been together. Otherwise, it’s classed as sexual assault.