Mon, May 14, 2018 - Page 5 News List

She did not see it coming: New York psychic arrested on suspicion of fraud

‘PSYCHIC SCAM’:Ann Thompson convinced a Canadian woman to buy her a diamond ring and spend large sums of money on magical spells that would vanquish demons

The Guardian

Psychic Zoe has not had a very good week. On Wednesday last week the fortune-teller, whose real name is Ann Thompson, was arrested by the New York Police Department on suspicion of defrauding clients out of more than US$800,000.

You would think she might have had a premonition the police would be knocking at her door but, alas, the future is not always crystal clear.

The police were notified of Thompson after two of her victims contacted private investigator Bob Nygaard, who specializes in psychic scams.

Both victims would like their names to remain anonymous, but one is a mother in her late 40s from Canada who was defrauded of at least US$740,000.

The second victim is a professional man in his 30s from the midwest who met Thompson last year while on business in Manhattan, and who was scammed out of US$72,000.

However, what exactly is a “psychic scam,” you might ask. Surely any trip to a psychic involves a large leap of faith and no guarantees. That is certainly true — it is difficult to take a fortune-teller to court because the tall, dark, handsome stranger you were told was definitely in your future never materialized.

However, you can charge a psychic for grand theft or larceny when they have taken a large fortune from someone via deception or false promises.

Thompson’s Canadian victim, for example, initially went to the psychic because she was having relationship problems.

Why not pay US$5 for Psychic Zoe to read her fortune, she thought.

Thompson, sensing a broken heart and a naive nature, quickly took advantage of the woman’s distress and drained her life savings.

She convinced the Canadian that she would never find love again unless she bought the psychic a 9.2 carat diamond ring.

She also convinced the victim to spend large sums of money on spells that would vanquish demons, as well as on building a “golden pyramid” that would protect her and her loved ones from dying.

Needless to say, the golden pyramid was entirely fictitious.

While Thompson is awaiting sentencing, Nygaard has already helped put a number of fraudulent fortune-tellers behind bars. By his count, he has helped successfully prosecute 30 psychics and recovered more than US$3.5m for his clients to date.

Despite his track record, Nygaard still finds it difficult to get law enforcement to take clairvoyant chicanery seriously.

While he said he “received excellent cooperation from an NYPD detective, in regard to this particular case,” all too often the police tend to treat psychic fraud like a joke.

However, psychics conning desperate people out of large amounts of money is a serious problem, Nygaard said.

“The prevalence with which these psychic scams are occurring, and the exorbitant amounts of money of which vulnerable people are being defrauded, not only in NYC, but all over the USA, is absolutely astonishing,” Nygaard told the Guardian. “Police and prosecutors need to wake up [and] realize that these self-proclaimed psychics are often part of organized criminal enterprises.”

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