Officials say that letters claiming psychic visions of great wealth for the recipients bilked Americans out of $180 million.
They should have seen it coming — and so should you.
Did you get a letter purportedly from French clairvoyants Maria Duval and Patrick Guerin?
Their decades-long mail-fraud scheme promising personal psychic revelations allegedly bilked $180 million from 1 million Americans, the Justice Department says. While their scheme was shut down, others like it may be active.
The psychics’ letters claimed the pair had specific, personalized visions or psychic readings revealing that recipients could achieve great wealth, including winning millions in the lottery, good luck or an inheritance, officials charged. The psychics’ urged victims to purchase talismans and services to ensure the foreseen good fortune would come to pass.
In reality, officials said, the solicitations were identical, mass-produced form letters sent to tens of thousands of recipients throughout the United States every month. The trinkets were worthless pieces of plastic from China, they told CNN.
The U.S. Postal Inspection Service says the scam is one of the largest consumer fraud cases the agency has ever handled.
Many who received the solicitations included the desperate, elderly and infirm, they said.
“To line their own pockets, the defendants preyed upon the superstition and desperation of millions of vulnerable Americans,” said U.S. Attorney Robert L. Capers for the Eastern District of New York.
Duval and Guerin and six other international defendants agreed to be bound by a permanent injunction by the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of New York to resolve a federal civil suit against them. The others are a Canadian company doing business as Infogest Direct Marketing; Infogest employees Mary Thanos, Daniel Sousse and Philip Lett, all of Quebec, Canada; Hong Kong corporation Destiny Research Center Ltd.; and Destiny Research Center President Martin Dettling of Zurich, Switzerland.
Though they settled the charges, none of the defendants have admitted to any wrongdoing. Duval has claimed she lost control of her name and image, CNN reported.
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