Federal authorities destroy bogus French psychics who scammed millions of elderly people by mail
“A large sum of money is coming to you,” the letter said, the words in bold next to a photo of an attractive woman with a subtle, knowing smile. “Please refer to the attached document for the latest instructions on receiving the check for $ 7,800!” “
Another pledged $ 31,790.99, granted to the reader by Belisama the Very Brilliant, who “drew” the sum of money. The author of the letter and his fellow Druids came together and decided to “disperse” this bounty on the reader’s “path” for an amount of only $ 45 ($ 50 in the case of payment by money order).
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A third offered the opportunity to obtain a “Priceless Ruby” that once belonged to the Maharaja of Jaipur. The Maharaja gave the gemstone to “John”, who chose you, reader, with your “urgent need for money and a dire lack of luck”, as the new owner. Simply follow the attached instructions and the stone, valued at $ 12,000, will be yours.
Well, there was no check for $ 7,800, there was no $ 31,790 of psychic invocation, and no, there was also no sacred ruby belonging to Indian royalty. .
United States District Court – Southern District of Florida
The letters were sent by three French residents operating an international system of psychic mail fraud in which tens of thousands of people were tricked into paying out millions of dollars in the hope that they would receive good fortune and various riches. in return. The scheme was thwarted by the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Florida, which permanently banned the three scammers and the two companies they worked with from participating in direct mail campaigns.
The Ministry of Justice announced the injunction Friday. “The Consumer Protection Division of the Civil Division will continue to investigate and prosecute to end postal mail fraud when it occurs, ”said Acting Deputy Attorney General Brian M. Boynton for the civil division of the Ministry of Justice. “Individuals who commit fraudulent schemes like the ones involved here must be held accountable. “
The complaint alleges that Robert Lhez, Mireille Dayer and Julie Poulleau sent hundreds of thousands of letters across the United States. The letters are said to be from individuals with psychic powers. The attractive woman with the subtle and complicit smile, for example, was Laura Vivian, the “Star of remote clairvoyance”. To shine the spotlight on Vivian for those who might have been skeptical, scammers noted that she offered “Best Predictions of the Year” for 2016 and 2017.
Vivian promised a check for $ 7,800 if the recipient responded in a rush, time sensitivity being a hallmark of solicitations, as was the feeling that the reader had been cosmically selected to receive the good fortune offered. Those who paid the requested $ 45 of course did not receive a check, but when the letter promised a valuable talisman, like ruby, the false psychics were kind enough to send at least “good knickknacks.” wholesale market ”.
Led by Lhez, according to the DOJ, the fraudsters had already been operating since 2012. The scheme was carried out with the help of two companies, Arcana Center and Partners VAD, who are co-accused in the injunction. The United States Postal Inspection Service had been part of the trio for years before the injunction was issued, withholding mail and seizing funds from Arcana Center that were believed to be the result of the scam. “Thursday’s defendants have been known to postal inspectors for years, constantly modifying their fraudulent schemes in an attempt to stay ahead of the law,” said Inspector in Charge Eric Shen of the Criminal Investigation Group of the United States Postal Inspection Service.
If you are wondering who these tens of thousands of people were who fell victim to what seems like an obvious scam, it was mostly older people. Seniors are ripe targets for con artists, with millions of older Americans falling victim to some type of trust scheme every year, according to the FBI.
“Beyond financial losses, predatory fraud schemes like this cause immense emotional suffering for victims,” said Acting US Attorney Juan Antonio Gonzalez for the Southern District of Florida. “We urge the public to question promotions that sound too good to be true and to immediately report any suspected fraud to law enforcement.”
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