The legacy of Sai Baba continues to do damage: Ashrafi convicted

UPDATE (19-Feb 2015): Leicester faith healer conman convicted. Ashrafi was sentenced to 9 years in prison for fraud.

Originally published 26-Jan 2015

Alleged fraudster used conjuring tricks to get people to give him money.

‘Con artist masqueraded as a faith healer to dupe vulnerable victims out of £650,000 in a series of scams’, court told | Leicester Mercury.

A “fraudster” masqueraded as a ‘faith healer’ to dupe vulnerable victims out of £650,000 in a series of scams, a court heard.

Mohammed Ashrafi (50) allegedly pretended to be a devotee of the Indian spiritual master Sai Baba, with special powers to perform miracles, Leicester Crown Court was told.

He convinced 18 ‘believers’ into thinking they were going to win the National Lottery – and persuaded them to part with life savings, it is claimed.

Sai Baba was a heralded guru who was also accused of doing magician’s tricks to gain people’s admiration. His tricks were exposed. To his followers, he was a “living god” who could heal the sick and even resurrect the dead.

Someone else was taking notes, perhaps. Ashrafi is accused of presenting himself as another miracle worker.

Ashrafi’s trial for fraud and blackmail continues in the UK.

  7 comments for “The legacy of Sai Baba continues to do damage: Ashrafi convicted

  1. Pat Murtagh
    January 26, 2015 at 8:26 PM

    This fellow has been around for some time. For some reason the name ‘Sri Baba’ rather than ‘Sai Baba’ stuck in my mind. So I went looked for the etymology of this whole thing. It turns out that he has been referred to as both Sri and Sai. Sri has a meaning of ‘great’ or ‘holy’ and is a common honorific in India. Baba basically means ‘father’. Thus this fellow is often referred to as ‘Holy Father’ by his followers. No doubt he is pleased by this. He still, however, hasn’t reached the point of ruling something like Vatican City.

    As an unconnected item ‘Lanka’ refers to ‘island’. Thus ‘Sri Lanka’ loosely translates as ‘Great Island’.

  2. Richard
    January 26, 2015 at 9:39 PM

    One of the problems is that Sai/Sri Baba and this new guy are working in the UK which has bizarre libel/slander laws: unlike the USA, truth is NOT a defense, if a report causes harm to the reputation (or income) of a person, they can sue even if the refutations (show us the ghost, prove there is a curse, demonstrate homeopathy works in a double-blind study, bend a spoon while under observation from multiple cameras….) cannot be answered or the assertions are demonstrated to be false. People fighting the homeopathy & anti-vacciners & spiritualists have been trying to work with Parliament for years to amend the laws, but so far without success.

    BTW other countries with laws based on UK, such as Australia, have a similar problem, and in India it is a crime to “defame” or “insult” a faith — so loosely written that anyone challenging a so-called “Holy Man” can be prosecuted, and even someone trying to convert someone from one faith tradition to another can (theoretically) be charged with a crime since they are challenging someone’s beliefs.

  3. Peter Robinson
    January 27, 2015 at 3:37 AM

    I thought Sri/Sai Baba was dead?

    Libel law in the U.K. was reformed in 2013 with some improvement though far from perfect. See libelreform.org for details.

    As for the fraud, let’s hope this Ashrafi gets a good legal kicking!

    I had an acquaintance who, like so many westerners seeking ‘spiritual enlightenment’ fell for the Sri Baba baloney until I showed her the film where his poor conjuring trick of producing gems out of nowhere (i.e. from the bottom of a box…DOH) is exposed quite clearly. Poor thing. She was really disillusioned, but sadly moved on to other nonsense such as Deepak Chopra…..

  4. Adam
    January 27, 2015 at 6:11 AM

    Haha, I love court legalese “alleged fraudster”.

  5. January 27, 2015 at 8:03 AM

    Threats of libel are not funny. Best avoided.

  6. MisterNeutron
    January 27, 2015 at 9:55 AM

    Raj, from The Big Bang Theory: “I’m from Asia. I’m mysterious. Deal with it.”

    Estelle Costanza, from Seinfeld: “I thought I was gettin’ advice from a Chinese woman!!”

    Your acquaintance probably wouldn’t swallow the same nonsense if it were coming from some guy from Hoboken named Charlie. For some reason, authentic Eastern gibberish is more appealing.

  7. Overkill
    February 20, 2015 at 1:33 AM

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