Psychic services are among the highest paying industries, especially in the US. According to the IBISWorld market research report, psychic services in the US industry have reached $2.2 billion in revenue over the five years from 2014 to 2019. With almost 100,000 businesses in the US, psychic services are widespread all across the world. While there are gifted psychics willing to provide accurate readings and help their clients, dozens of psychic scam cases have been reported over the last few decades.
Due to the importance of the issue, I have selected some of the most famous psychic scams in world history. You will find interesting facts and details about the following 9 psychic scandals.
To explore these outrageous psychic scams, keep reading!
Maria Duval mail scam is one of the biggest frauds in world history. As a result, scammers have retrieved over 2 million dollars over 25 years. But how did it all begin?
Maria Duval, also known as Maria Carolina Gamba, is a woman claiming to have psychic abilities. She has gained fame and built a reputation in the 1970-1980s. About 10 years later, Maria Duval sold the rights to her name to a group of scammers. The fraudsters started the business by regularly selling astrology prognoses.
Unfortunately, the scheme was changed too soon. They began creating letters and sent them to the elderly and people suffering from deadly diseases. They offered help and spiritual guidance for $40 per mail séance. Some of the victims have even paid thousands of dollars, hoping that their diseases would cure.
While Maria Duval claims that she was not aware of how these letters were hurting various people throughout the world, the fact is that the letters had her signature. Plus, she had been signing new contracts and receiving funds from the scammers. It has been determined that Maria Duval was not involved in the process of creating and sending the letters.
Whether she was a part of this well-planned psychic fraud or not, the most substantial psychic scam in history is linked with her name, Maria Duval. We get more in depth on the Maria Duval Scam Here
Gina Marie Marks was a psychic providing readings under the pseudonym of Natalie Miller. She operated from home in Bethesda and called her services “Readings by Natalie.” As the first step, she offered different types of readings, including a Tarot Card reading, and then provided a plan to improve the life of an individual.
Things were getting complicated after a regular reading session. Natalie would tell her clients that they were cursed and that she felt black magic and love spells in their energies. She used a typical technique to convince the clients that there was an urgent need for cash for fixing the problems.
She did not ask for the cash immediately. Instead, she would persuade the clients to put the cash in a black pillowcase for their energies to be transferred to the bills. Then, she would ask them to bring that particular pillowcase full of money. As Natalie was telling the victims, she would place the pillowcase near an altar at her church to get rid of curses.
She would also convince the victims to ignore specific calls from their loved ones. For instance, Natalie would tell her client that her boyfriend was going to call her on Monday at 5:00 PM. Then, she would simply make a false call to make them believe more in her abilities.
As a result, Natalie Miller, A.K.A. Gina Marie Marks, received $341,000 from five victims. She was sentenced to six years in prison.
Youree Dell Harris, also known as Miss Cleo, was a psychic working for the Psychic Readers Network. She appeared in TV commercials promoting people to call her NOW. While the ads stated that the calls were completely free, people calling the hotline ended up paying about $300 for each call.
Another fact is that the woman answering the phone calls was not the one that was shown in TV commercials. She was a regular actress or even a group of actresses reading from specialized scripts. These actresses got paid considering the time a caller was held on the hotline. The Psychic Readers Network has also used the name “Miss Cleo” to send emails about special Tarot Readings.
Finally, the Federal Trade Commission charged the company owners with organized fraud, misleading advertising, and billing. The company agreed to erase debt (worth $500 million) owed by the victims of Miss Cleo psychic scam and paid an additional $5 million to the Federal Trade Commission.
Janet Lee is a self-proclaimed psychic, commonly known as the Greenwich psychic and the Bedford psychic. While she claims to have been gifted with supernatural power to provide psychic readings and Tarot readings, her name is associated with yet another psychic fraud.
Starting from a false statement case of 2009, Lee called the police stating that she had been beaten by an unknown man outside her psychic office. After checking her phone calls, the police determined that she was not even near the address of her business.
Later in 2015, Lee persuaded a woman to withdraw all her savings and give the money to her. The woman was convinced as Lee told her that the money was cursed and surrounded by dark forces. According to Lee, she would have put the money in a safe box and let it be cleansed for a period of 6 months. Consequently, Janet refused to give $30,000 back to her client.
In 2017, Janet Lee used someone’s identity and theft documents to rent a luxury property in SoHo. She even forged more than 60 signatures on the lease document.
Finally, she was charged with third-degree larceny for identity theft, forgery, and criminal possession.
Rachel Lee is another psychic fraudster seen in dozens of TV commercials claiming to be a renowned psychic. Lee persuaded Ralph Raines Junior that her supernatural power would have helped him achieve goals and live a happier life. Rachel tried to get closer to Ralph, and finally, they even became most intimate friends.
As a result, Lee convinced Raines to buy a property and even a Hummer as a gift. Lee gained control over Raines’s mind and finances. She had stolen $15 million for a period of 10 years.
Finally, Rachel Lee was pleaded guilty and charged with an 8-year sentence in prison.
Priscilla Kelly Delmaro is a psychic who stole over $550,00 from a man hoping to reunite with a dead woman. Delmaro and Niall Rice met in a small psychic shop owned by Delmaro herself. For 20 months, she had been charging Rice fees in cash and was also receiving gifts.
As Rice reported, he had already visited another psychic and paid over $100,000 for the sessions. After the séances with Delmaro, Rice found out that his loved one had died of an overdose. Despite this, Delmaro promised him that the woman would have been reincarnated into a new person employing a time machine and her special crystals.
As soon as Rice realized it was another scam, he notified the police and Delmaro was sentenced eight months in prison and four years of probation.
Bridgette Doreen Evans is a psychic working under the name of Kyra Chase. Evans has been accused of stealing $1.6 million from her victims for a couple of years. She is famous for defrauding clients out of thousands of dollars.
Evans told her victims that their money and personal items were cursed and surrounded by the devil. She offered her clients to cleanse the valuables and cash from dark energy. As a result, she would just refuse to return the jewelry and ask for more money for the angels to “clear the clouds.”
Charged with wire and mail fraud, Evans has been held in jail a couple of times from 2011 since recently. She has also been serving several years of supervised release.
Ann Thompson, also known as Psychic Zoe, is a well-known NY psychic who had been providing readings for only $5. Nobody was expecting that this would lead to a psychic scam through which Zoe drained victims of more than $800,000.
The scheme used by psychic Zoe is the following. She would listen to people’s stories and promise them to provide reliable readings and a plan for them to follow. The next day, the clients would return and listen to dozens of lies, such as huge curses and devil energy around them. Zoe assured the victims she would remove all curses for a particular amount of money or gold.
Zoe would also tell brokenhearted people to buy her expensive jewelry if they wanted to find their true love. She also told her clients that they would lose everything if they did not follow her instructions. Zoe was just driving her business by playing with emotional triggers. She took advantage of people and their love for families, children, or husbands.
One of her clients, Ruth, has spent over $740,000 on séances with psychic Zoe. Zoe told Ruth that she would lose her family, relatives, and her miscarried children would be stuck in hell. You can check out the article by Sylvia Varnham O’Regan to learn more about this particular case.
After Seth Tobias, hedge fund manager, was found dead in the pool of his Jupiter mansion, his wife, Filomena Tobias, was accused of the murder. Tobias’s will had not been updated after his previous divorce. Therefore, his current wife’s attorneys argued that she should have been the only spouse and receive Seth’s entire estate.
At this time, Enter Billy Ash, Filomena Tobias’s self-proclaimed personal assistant, stated that Filomena spiked Seth’s pasta with sleeping pills and enticed him into the pool. Later, CNBC investigated the case and determined that Billy Ash was Filomena’s online psychic. The reason for the tale of sleep medication in pasta was the fact that Filomena refused to give Ash a certain amount of money.
Consequently, authorities reported that Tobias’s death was natural and neither his wife nor the psychic were charged.
In this article, I have provided the list of 9 outrageous psychic scams in world history. The people behind these famous frauds were Maria Carolina Gamba (Maria Duval), Gina Marie Marks (Natalie Miller), Youree Dell Harris (Miss Cleo), Janet Lee, Rachel Lee, Priscilla Kelly Delmaro, Bridgette Doreen Evans (Kyra Chase), Ann Thompson (Psychic Zoe), and Enter Billy Ash. In some cases, psychics were charged and sentenced to a couple of years in prison. On the other hand, some of them were just sentenced to several years of probation.
While these were just a few examples of how one might end up being a victim of a psychic scam, there are dozens of other fraudsters committing crimes daily. To make sure you are not their next victim, you should be extremely careful while reaching out to a psychic. Sometimes a good offense is the best defense, do your research and educate yourself on past and present psychic scams. A good starting point is the ‘Avoiding Psychic Scams’ Section on our website.
In the case, if you are planning to schedule an online séance with a psychic, you should check his/her rating and feedback from past clients. This will help you find a reliable psychic who can provide accurate readings.
If you are going to visit a psychic and have an in-person conversation, just do some research prior to the session. Besides, your friends might already know a trustworthy psychic, so always ask for recommendations. If you are ever scammed by a psychic, you can get more information here
Finally, never share your personal information and do not transfer any amount of money to a given bank account. Although you might get your money back, you might even lose thousands of dollars, similarly to so many psychic fraud victims.