A man has gone on trial in central Spain for scamming an elderly woman out of nearly a quarter of a million pounds by posing as God.
The defendant, named only as Victor, appeared at the Provincial Court of Leon in Castilla y Leon, on 5th July charged with fraud.
The Public Prosecutor’s Office accuses him of scamming victim Esperanza out of approximately EUR 286,692 by posing as the Supreme Being.
Victor, a family friend, was aware of his victim’s religious delusions and the savings she had been able to accumulate thanks to her austere lifestyle.
In January 2013, he began calling her from a withheld number posing variously as “God”, “Our Lord Jesus Christ”, and even the “Virgin Mary”.
He would ask her to withdraw increasingly large amounts of cash from her accounts so they could be deposited in the “Bank of Heaven”.
He allegedly convinced her that the heavenly bank would give her higher returns on her savings than earthly ones.
Sometimes, he also asked her to leave envelopes full of cash in a drawer at his store in Leon, which he would later deposit directly into his personal account.
Esperanza had always believed it was God Himself asking for her money.
She had been convinced that her savings would allow her to build a house in the heavenly realm where she could live with her late mother and husband.
As she believed the Virgin Mary had made her a saint in 2013, receiving calls and messages from God asking for money had not seemed strange to her.
According to reports, Victor had told her not to reveal anything to her children and had even threatened to harm them or make her money disappear if she did.
But his alleged scam came to an end in December 2019 when Esperanza’s children discovered that her bank account was empty.
Suspecting something was seriously amiss, they questioned her and she eventually came clean about what she had been doing.
She also admitted to having taken out multiple loans since completely emptying her account in May 2017.
The prosecution has requested an eight-year prison sentence and a large fine for the defendant, who is currently denying the accusations against him.
It is also demanding that he returns the victim her money.
Outside the court, Esperanza asked reporters: “Who says no to our Lord God?”