Police have charged a Brampton, Ont., man with fraud, and the unusual charge of pretending to practice witchcraft.

Sgt. Zahir Shah of the Peel Regional Police told CTV Toronto on Wednesday that the accused allegedly promised to perform magic for money "and that (he) would be able to solve any and all of your problems."

The complainants allegedly paid the accused, who worked out of a large home. "Obviously he wasn't able to perform any magic and their problems remained unsolved," Shah alleged.

The sergeant said that the charge of pretending to practice witchcraft "is not one we lay very often." An additional charge of fraud under $5,000 was also laid.

The charges were laid after a victim came forward to police. Officers said they don't yet know how many people may have been victimized, but they suspect the accused has been operating for more than one year.

Shah clarified that practicing witchcraft is not illegal, saying, "If you want to be a wiccan, that's your business." He added that someone is committing fraud if they say they have the ability to practice magic in return for money or a service.

Yogendra Pathak, 44, was arrested on Monday.  He is scheduled to appear in court on Oct. 7.

No allegations against him have been proven in a court of law.

Peel police are asking anyone who has information about this investigation to call them at (905) 453-2121, ext.2133, or to call Crime Stoppers anonymously at 1-800-222-TIPS (8477).

They also offered the following general advice for anyone seeking to purchase services from an individual:

  • try to verify you are being told the truth
  • get as much information from the person as possible
  • get their history and ask for references
  • try to obtain a written contract
  • if the offer seems too good to be true, it probably is

Samantha Ragbirsingh operates a bookstore dedicated to spirituality.

"People have come in for readings and have mentioned a few people that have asked for up to $5,000 to remove curses, hexes (and) karmic debts," she said.

Her own shop, Earth Works, has a sign up warning that any advice is for entertainment purposes only.

Ragbirsingh said if an individual has a health problem, they should see a doctor. Similarly, they should see a financial professional if they have money troubles.

With a report from CTV Toronto's Austin Delaney