An Iowa judge has ordered a New York-based company that prosecutors say conned people into paying for outlandish psychic readings and prophecies to stop soliciting Iowa residents and refund nearly $14,000 already sent from them.
Polk County District Court Judge Douglas Staskal on Thursday ordered Joseph Meisels and his Brooklyn, New York-based International Astrology Foundation to pay $13,740 in refunds to 78 mostly elderly Iowa residents bilked by fraudulent mailings.
The judge also imposed a $20,000 penalty and ordered Meisels and his outfit to permanently cease sending letters to Iowa residents asking for money in return for help from fictitious psychics.
Outlandish psychic readings? Aren’t they all? These were really out of this world as they included messages from fake professors, astrologers and even extraterrestrials.
The letters addressed the recipients as personal friends and offered to help them with money challenges, health issues and other problems. One woman lost $1500 to them. The money doesn’t seem like much. But for senior citizens living on a very limited income, this is serious stuff. The overall fine was not nearly enough to put fraudsters like this out of business permanently. It’s a good bet that they will, like almost every psychic caught for fraud and let off with just a fine, push there gimmick into another state if they aren’t doing that ALREADY.
If one looks up the International Astrology Foundation, there is little to go on, even from the Better Business Bureau site. It appears that such companies will settle the small claims and return money to those who file complaints. But most people are too embarrassed to file a claim or don’t know how and their money is pocketed.
Often, those well versed in the deceptive nature of all psychic claims can’t understand how people can fall for such ploys. But not everyone is aware that psychic powers aren’t real and astrology is not valid. Bringing such scams to the attention of the public is one way to inoculate people against falling for this. But when such promises are delivered in a personal way, it’s very hard not to be sucked in to believing it’s worth a try.
So, here’s some sound advice that will keep you clear of nonsense: DO NOT give money to psychics or astrologers EVER.