Posted on: August 29, 2022, 11:00h. 

Last updated on: August 29, 2022, 11:27h.

A fortune teller in Malta never saw it coming. But Maria Magdalena Sultana has avoided jail time after authorities arrested her for money laundering in conjunction with her long-running gambling habit.

Malta courtroom
A typical Malta courtroom in between cases. A Maltese fortune teller and gambler has avoided prison after a judge found her guilty of money laundering, fraud, and other charges. (Image: Times of Malta)

Sultana allegedly made a decent living staring into her crystal ball and telling others what fates awaited them. However, the magic apparently didn’t work to predict her own future.

Media outlet TVM reports that from 2009 to 2020, she generated considerable income as a psychic, although how much she earned remains a mystery. It was enough, however, that she could afford regular trips to casinos, which proved to be her undoing.

Crystal Ball Magic Fades

In the 11-year span, Sultana reportedly spent around €200,000 (US$199,760) at area casinos. However, her lifestyle caught up with her when someone tipped off the police about her questionable spending habits last year.

That led to an investigation, which discovered that Sultana was masquerading as a fortune teller. She offered her services through two different pages on Facebook, earning €20 to €35 (US$19.98 to $35.96) per session. She hadn’t held a job since 2008, filing unemployment claims and continuously collecting benefits from the state.

After running some calculations, investigators realized that she couldn’t be making enough income to cover her gambling activity without cutting corners. This included not paying taxes and using the casino as a means to launder what she made reading people’s future.

As the investigation progressed, police took a trip to Sultana’s home. There, they found a number of items associated with fortune telling, including a Ouija board and more. In addition, they confiscated over €4,000 (US$3,996) in cash.

With the investigation concluded, police arrested and charged Sultana for her crimes. These included money laundering, fraud, tax evasion, probation violation, and more. At the time of her repeated fortune-telling offenses, she had multiple probation orders issued against her.

At trial, a number of her former clients appeared to confirm her activity. They had given her money to tell them about their future or to place a curse on others.

No one confirmed that her predictions or actions became reality. As a result, several later considered suicide because of the lack of fulfillment of Sultana’s prophecies.

No Fortunes for the Foreseeable Future

In the end, the judge presiding over the case, Donatella Frendo Dimech, decided not to throw the book at her too hard. Despite being a repeat offender, Sultana received a 24-month prison sentence, suspended for four years.

In addition, she will have to pay a fine of €28,000 (US$27,991). Because she collected government subsidies while working, Sultana also had to give up certain assets that the government seized.

Part of the judge’s leniency was the result of Sultana’s bad luck at the casinos. The judge recognized that, although she claimed to be able to see the future, she had lost more money at the tables and machines than she had won.