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Update: did alleged victims of psychic fraud change their stories?

There are many people across Florida who have visited a psychic, had their palms read or flipped over a Tarot card or two. Many people would agree that the legitimacy of these practices is only as real as a person believes them to be. Proving that a psychic prediction or vision is accurate can be quite subjective; but proving that a psychic defrauded clients out of money is a process that requires facts and evidence.

This is the situation that one Florida psychic and fortune teller is currently facing. We recently wrote that the woman had been indicted on counts of fraud and was accused of collecting millions of dollars from clients, then failing to return money she promised to repay. But recent developments highlight the vulnerabilities in the alleged victims' stories.

According to reports, the woman worked with numerous clients for many years. One of them in particular had been seeking her services since 1997. Over the course of many years, the client handed over more than $800,000 in cash, gold coins and jewelry to the psychic who had promised to lift a curse that the woman believed had been placed on her family.

In 2002, the client learned that the psychic had lost $500,000 of the woman's money and gold in the 9/11 attacks. The client was reportedly outraged that all of the money was gone. Still, the woman began working with the psychic again years later, handing over more and more money. This raised the question of why clients returned to the psychic if they believed they were victims of fraud.

It has been argued that clients involved in the case only claimed to be a victim of fraud after they were told they could get money back from the psychic if they testified against her. At issue is whether or not the psychic ever promised to return money to her clients in the first place. If she did and failed to do so, she could be sentenced to prison and may be ordered to pay back $25 million to the alleged victims. However, if no such promises were ever made, the money that changed hands could simply be considered ordinary transactions. It will be very interesting to see which side prevails in this case.

Source: Sun Sentinel, "Defense: Psychic's clients made up story to get money back," Paula McMahon, Aug. 30, 2013

Mark J. O'Brien's cases have been featured in:
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