The US Justice Department has brought the hammer down on a psychic fraud scheme that solicits customers via mail that looks personalized targeting elderly and and economically vulnerable people promising wealth.
The Justice Department on Thursday filed civil complaints against companies and individuals that allegedly scammed senior citizens and others eager for a psychic’s assistance.
Filed by U.S. Attorney for the Eastern District of New York Loretta Lynch, the Obama administration’s new nominee to serve as attorney general, the civil complaints allege quite a scheme.
“Relying on superstition and fear, the defendants defrauded tens of millions of dollars from thousands of vulnerable citizens,” Lynch said in a statement.
The letter to the potential customer of the psychic reading informed the addressee that they are contacting the recipient based on a specific vision or psychic reading revealing the recipient. They are promised the opportunity to dramatically improve their financial situations, possibly winning the lottery. The letters are personalized and contain what looks like handwritten portions. The recipients were encouraged to buy products that would ensure good fortune.
We’ve all seen these gimmick mass mailings for a sale, contest or a business scheme. It’s shrewd, sneaky, and it works on those who are not well-versed in the typical ploys that are so easily faked via computer graphics these days. People assume that the claims are legit because it feels so personal and who would resort to such a scam? (Personal incredulity)
According to the complaints, the defendants operate two mail fraud schemes in which they send solicitation letters purportedly written by world-renowned psychics to consumers through the U.S. mail. The first scheme, operated by Destiny Research Center and the Canadian company Infogest Direct Marketing, sends direct mail solicitations allegedly written by psychics Maria Duval and Patrick Guerin. The second scheme, operated by Christine Moussu through New York companies CLGE Inc. and I.D. Marketing Solutions Inc., sends direct mail solicitations allegedly written by psychics David Phild, Sandra Rochefort, Antonia Donera and Nicholas Chakan.
Evidence presented by the United States in support of its motion indicates that victims of the mail fraud schemes were elderly, ill and in perilous financial condition.
The sad part is that people believe psychics are real, they buy into emotional gimmicks that promise them what they deeply seek. Even though one fraudster is brought down, many continue to operate on the non-skeptical. Education is a key against fraud.