Federal prosecutors in the state of New York recently shut down a phony psychic ring which was luring the desperate by convincing people they were destined to achieve great wealth. In reality, the only people who became wealthy are the charlatans that masterminded the scheme.
The Daily Mail is reporting on the bust which took place in New York and involved two phony psychics from France, a Canadian direct marketing company called Infogest and the Hong Kong-based Destiny Research Center, Ltd. which were all working together in an elaborate scam to bilk the gullible out of millions of dollars.
According to the Mail, the scam involved letters from self-described psychics Maria Duval and Patrick Guerin of France who claimed they had visions of great wealth for recipients. The letters urged victims to buy various products and services in order to make this vision materialize.
Infogest then hired a company to print the letters which were shipped by truck across the Canadian border to Albany, New York where they were mailed to mainly elderly Americans.
“Recipients of the letters were instructed to mail payments, personal information, photos and even locks of hair so that Duval could understand each person’s energy for better readings,” the Mail reports.
These responses were then sent to commercial mailboxes opened by Destiny Research Center and then sent to Data Marketing Group in Long Island, New York where payments were processed. This company also directed the mailing out of talismans, known as “vibratory crystals,” which were nothing more than cheap trinkets produced in China.
Even though individual payments usually amounted to less than $50 each, they added up to $180 million from approximately one million Americans who fell for the scheme.
“To line their own pockets, the defendants preyed on the superstition and desperation of millions of vulnerable Americans,’ said U.S. Attorney Robert Capers. “We will use every means at our disposal to protect our citizens from fraudulent schemes like this that target the lonely, the ill and the elderly.”
Principal Deputy Assistant Attorney General Benjamin C. Mizer, head of the Justice Department’s Civil Division, said the scheme targeted either the elderly or people who were in financial distress. .
“The Justice Department is committed to stopping such fraud and pursuing all those responsible for lying to vulnerable consumers for their own financial gain.”
The Mail is reporting that the defendants have agreed to settle the case.