Psychic Scam Ended After Collecting Over 181 Million From Elderly Victims

On Monday, federal prosecutors in New York say they shut down a fake psychic scam that lured thousands of gullible Americans--mostly the elderly. The defendants included two alleged psychics from France, a Canadian direct marketing company called Infogest and Hong Kong-based Destiny Research Center Ltd.

They have all signed a consent decree barring them from using the U.S. mail to send letters. Prosecutors say that since 2006, more than 1 million Americans took their bait and sent the defendants payments totaling over $180 million.

U.S. attorney Robert Capers said, "To line their own pockets, the defendants preyed on the superstition and desperation of millions of vulnerable Americans. 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." According to prosecutors, letters were supposedly sent from self-described psychics Maria Duval and Patrick Guerin of France. They claimed that they had a vision of the recipients achieving great wealth.

The letter urged the victims to buy various products and services in order for their good fortunes to arrive. First, a company in Canada was hired by Infogest to print Duval's letters. They were mailed to thousands of elderly Americans whose names were bought from data brokers.

The letters were then trucked across the Canadian border by the same company to Albany, New York. Recipients of the letters were told to mail payments, personal information, photos and even locks of hair to help the psychics understand each person's energy for better readings. The responses were then sent to a Hong Kong-based company called Destiny Research Center at one of its U.S. or Canadian locations. They were just commercial mailboxes opened by Destiny Research Center. They were then sent to a completely different company in Long Island, New York. Individual payments were around $40 or $50 each, but added up to millions.

Data Marketing Group allegedly processed as much as $500,000 every two weeks while throwing away the photos and locks of hair. Victims were added to their database where repeat letters were sent asking for additional payments. In 2006, Data Marketing Group Ltd., sent out 56 million solicitations. They collected around $13 million in victim payments annually. The defendants have agreed to settle the case.

Photo: Money.CNN

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