Date
16 January 2017
A CNN reporter explains the scheme involving Maria Duval and Patrick Guerin as part of its own investigation into the alleged scam that has bilked one million Americans. Photo: CNN
A CNN reporter explains the scheme involving Maria Duval and Patrick Guerin as part of its own investigation into the alleged scam that has bilked one million Americans. Photo: CNN

Hong Kong firm named in US court action over psychic mail fraud

A Hong Kong company has been named in a US court order relating to an international psychic mail fraud that has scammed more than one million Americans, including the elderly or infirm, out of more than US$180 million.

Reuters is reporting that a federal judge has issued a decree that bans Hong Kong’s Destiny Research Center Ltd., Montreal’s Infogest Direct Marketing and six individuals from using the US mail system to send ads, promotional materials and solicitations on behalf of alleged psychics, astrologers and clairvoyants.

The court action came as US authorities said they have shut down the operation.

In a scheme dating to 2000, the defendants were accused of sending seemingly personalized form letters in which French psychics Maria Duval and Patrick Guerin predicted great wealth, such as winning the lottery, for people who bought products and services to ensure their good fortune came to pass.

One such letter touted how Duval and Guerin shared “clear visions” that recipients would come into “massive sums of money on games of chance”, so long as they paid US$50 for a “mysterious talisman” and a copy of “My Invaluable Guide to My New Life.”

Authorities said people who bought products or services would be “bombarded” with additional solicitations.

More than 56 million pieces of mail were sent in the past decade, they said.

“To line their own pockets, the defendants preyed upon the superstition and desperation of millions of vulnerable Americans,” US Attorney Robert Capers for the Eastern District of New York said in a statement.

The civil consent decree was negotiated by Capers’ office, and approved by US District Judge Sandra Feuerstein in Central Islip, New York.

None of the defendants admitted wrongdoing. A lawyer for the defendants did not immediately respond to requests for comment.

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