Mat 14, 2018 ( Courtesy the Guardian.com) – Psychic Zoe has not had a very good week. On 9 May the fortune-teller, whose real name is Ann Thompson, was arrested by the New York Police Department on suspicion of defrauding clients out of over $800,000. You’d think she might have had a premonition the police would be knocking at her door but, alas, the future isn’t 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, however one is a mother in her late 40s from Canada who was defrauded of at least $740,000. The second victim is a professional man in his 30s from the midwest who met Thompson while on business in Manhattan last year, and who was scammed out of $72,000.
But 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’s 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. You can, however, charge a psychic for grand theft or larceny when they’ve 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 $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’d 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 currently 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 $3.5m for his clients to date.
Marina Burghard writes for Canadian Fraud News about fraud-related cases, whistleblower, jurisdiction, identity theft, consumer protection, etc. – essentially about scams and how to protect yourself against this kind of fraudulent criminal behavior. She holds a Master’s degree in Political Science where her interest in criminology grew. Besides fraud, Marina’s scientific interest lies in terrorism, extremism and how to deal with it as a society.