NEW YORK CITY -- Federal prosecutors in New York said Monday they have shut down a fake psychic scam that lured gullible Americans to part with $180 million.
The defendants including two alleged psychics from France, a Canadian direct marketing company called Infogest and Hong Kong-based Destiny Research Center Ltd. have signed a consent decree barring them from using the U.S. mail to send letters claiming they can boost people's chances of inheriting money or winning the lottery, U.S. Attorney Robert Capers said.
"To line their own pockets, the defendants preyed on the superstition and desperation of millions of vulnerable Americans," Capers said. "We will use every means at our disposal to protect our citizens from fraudulent schemes like this that target the lonely, the ill and the elderly."
Prosecutors said the defendants sent letters supposedly from self-described psychics Maria Duval and Patrick Guerin of France claiming that the psychics had a vision of the recipients achieving great wealth.
The letters urged the victims to buy various products and services to ensure that the foreseen good fortune came to pass.
Prosecutors said that more than 1 million Americans took the bait and sent the defendants payments totaling more than $180 million.