1. Maria Duval’s Massive Scam, 2. Debra Dominique Outed at a Denny’s, 3. Laurie McQuary and The Undead Reporter, 4. John Edward Accused of Hot Reading, 5. Sylvia Browne on the Sago Mine, 6. Long Island Medium Miss After Miss Live, 7. Psychic Zoe the Thief, 8. Uri Geller Exposed, 9. Noreen Renier Fails Kimberly McAndrew, 10. Sylvia Browne Bungles a Kidnapping. People throughout history have claimed to have a connection to the divine, the world of the dead, ghosts, and other realms. Fortune-telling dates back to 4000 BCE as well. And most of this is done in a seemingly harmless manner. But not all of it, especially in today's environment. People who claim to be psychic and have a direct link to God or the dead have had a disastrous impact on many people's lives. And every now and then, they misstep and fall flat on their faces. Here is a list of the top 10 times psychic frauds fell flat that you should not miss.
- Maria Duval’s Massive Scam
- Debra Dominique Outed at a Denny’s
- Laurie McQuary and The Undead Reporter
- John Edward Accused of Hot Reading
- Sylvia Browne on the Sago Mine
- Long Island Medium Miss After Miss Live
- Psychic Zoe the Thief
- Uri Geller Exposed
- Noreen Renier Fails Kimberly McAndrew
- Sylvia Browne Bungles a Kidnapping
Maria Duval’s Massive Scam
Maria Duval didn’t have the name recognition of Sylvia Browne or John Edward, but she could con as well as any other con psychic and make a lot of money doing it. She deceived her victims for around $180 million, according to the Justice Department. Duval, whose true name was Maria Carolina Gamba, operated a mail fraud ring while posing as a psychic. She rose to prominence after falsely claiming to have used her psychic abilities to locate Bridget Bardot’s missing dog. Bardot herself stated that her dog had died and that no psychic had recovered it.
The fraud involves mailing personalized letters to the elderly and sick. There were entire companies involved in mass producing them, creating them to look individualized and handwritten. Some were even alleged to have coffee stains on them to add realism. The personal information was obtained from data miners, but they made the letters appear as though the person writing genuinely knew who they were writing to. They clearly worked, based on the number of victims who fell for it and the amount of money they made. A person had to pay $40 for each round of correspondence. There were also extras like lucky talismans that would cost extra. Though the Justice Department shut the scam down, that was only in the United States. The company behind the letters is still going strong in other parts of the world.
Debra Dominique Outed at a Denny’s
On LinkedIn, Debra Dominique claims to be a professional psychic and pet psychic. She has not achieved the international fame that some of the psychics they’ve discussed have, but she has exposed herself in the same way that many of them have as being untrustworthy.
Most psychics are arguably doing innocuous things when they tell people that they will soon find their dream career or that their love life will improve. Dominique, on the other hand, stepped into the waters of being a psychic detective, saying she assisted in the discovery of Laci Peterson’s body. The Sacramento CBS affiliate reasoned that someone trusted by the FBI should be able to answer a few questions about a missing person, so they took her to a Denny’s and secretly filmed her to see what would happen.
Dominique examined images of a missing boy and concluded that he had died as a result of child trafficking. She even claimed that his body was buried in Europe and that she was channeling his spirit for a brief period of time. The actual boy from the photo was seated in the booth behind her the entire time. For what it’s worth, the station also spoke with an FBI agent who stated unequivocally that the FBI has never solved a case with the help of a psychic.
Laurie McQuary and The Undead Reporter
Laurie McQuary claimed to have worked as a psychic detective for 30 years, solving hundreds of missing people cases. A producer from the show Inside Edition pretended to be the brother of a missing child in order to test her accuracy and capacity to deliver on that promise. He arrived with a photo of the missing child and scheduled an interview. The whole cost was $400. McQuary went on to describe how the girl was sexually molested and then had her head smashed with a rock. She claimed to be able to find the body as well.
The following day, she had another appointment, this time with Lisa Guerrero, an on-air correspondent for Inside Edition. Guerrero had some reservations about McQuary’s previous reading because the photo of the allegedly dead girl was one of Guerrero’s childhood photos. McQuary abruptly exited the interview, but ten other psychics confirmed that the girl in the photo was deceased.
John Edward Accused of Hot Reading
Hot reading is less prevalent and more difficult to conduct because it necessitates study. Hot reading might entail listening in on people using covert microphones or conducting web research on a subject, then claiming the information was gathered by spirits.
John Edward, who had a daytime TV show where he conducted psychic readings for several years, was discovered doing hot reading. The concept was that before the presentation, show helpers would have possible visitors fill out comment cards with personal information and family trees. One guest also pointed out that the show had been edited to make it appear as if he was nodding in agreement with what Edward was saying, even though this was not the case.
The guest also mentioned that there was an hour delay between the time the audience was seated and the start of the show. During that time, much of the audience discussed why they had come, particularly the deceased loved ones they wanted to contact, all while show aides chatted them up.
Informations about John Edward
Born: October 19, 1969 (age 53)Glen Cove, New York
Occupation: Psychic medium
Sylvia Browne on the Sago Mine
Sylvia Browne couldn’t help but be incorrect, thus she makes a second appearance on the list. This time, she repeats her pattern of claiming people are dead when they aren’t and doing so in front of TV cameras. She had a lengthy history of being wrong about many things, but some stinged more than others.
When the mine in Sago, West Virginia, collapsed in 2006, 13 coal miners were trapped. Sylvia happened to be on the radio at the time, and the host informed her as the news broke. Based on the information at the time, he told her that the miners were all alive. Sylvia explained that she was certain they would be discovered. All except one of the miners were killed. The host received the updated information and informed Sylvia, who immediately agreed that none of them were alive, as if the story was unclear and she was using her powers to divine it.
Informations about Sylvia Browne:
Born: October 19, 1936Kansas City, Missouri, U.S.
Died: November 20, 2013 (aged 77)San Jose, California, U.S.
Occupation: Self-proclaimed psychic and medium, author
Long Island Medium Miss After Miss Live
One of the times psychic frauds fell flat is the Long Island Medium, Theresa Caputo. Though she’s incredibly popular and her show is edited to make her look spectacular and real, her live shows are not always so seamless. In September 2013, the New York native filmed a reading with missing woman Stacy Peterson’s sister, Cassandra Cales, for an upcoming season of her hit reality program, SciFake.com creator Ron Tebo claimed in a stunning new video.
A writer from New Jersey attended a live presentation in which Caputo attempted and repeatedly failed to cold read the audience. She’d nail basic questions like “who had a father who died,” which might conceivably be dozens of people in the room, and then fumble the next one, attempting to predict the reason why or other intimate details. People have claimed that Caputo’s show producers interviewed them before speaking with the psychic, obtaining all of the details ahead of time, which takes some of the mystery out of a psychic reading.
Psychic Zoe the Thief
Ann Thompson made a living as Psychic Zoe, a fortune teller. Her specialty seems to be duping the unsuspecting, which she did to the tune of $800,000. She was charged with fraud as a result of her deception. Thompson’s enormous con only claimed two victims. One victim was a businessman who was duped out of $72,000. The second victim was a Canadian woman who was duped out of $740,000.
Obviously, the victims in this case bear some of the culpability for participating in what most people would consider a complete scam. Thompson, for example, requested that the Canadian woman purchase a 9.2 carat diamond ring. Why would she need to acquire something like this for a psychic? She’d never find love again if she didn’t. When Thompson was finally tried for fraud and grand larceny, she and an accomplice received only five years of probation and were ordered to repay some of the over $1 million they were ultimately found guilty of stealing.
Uri Geller Exposed
One of the most famous cases of a psychic getting owned on national TV came to us thanks to the late, great Johnny Carson. Uri Geller is an Israeli-British illusionist, magician, television personality, and self-proclaimed psychic. He is known for his trademark television performances of spoon bending and other illusions. Geller uses conjuring tricks to simulate the effects of psychokinesis and telepathy. Geller’s career as an entertainer has spanned more than four decades, with television shows and appearances in many countries. Magicians have called Geller a fraud due to his claims of possessing psychic powers. Carson insisted on setting up the props instead of letting Geller do it. The result was Geller failing at everything, stalling, making excuses, and clearly being uncomfortable.
Magicians came out and labeled him an outright fraud. Geller blamed his failure on a hostile environment and not the fact he wasn’t able to set up the props ahead of time. Famed skeptic James Randi exposed Geller’s tricks and explained how anyone could bend spoons. Geller later sued a publisher for defamation, a case which he lost. The court ordered him to pay $20,000 in legal fees as well.
Informations about Uri Geller:
Occupation: Performer, illusionist, self-proclaimed psychic
Noreen Renier Fails Kimberly McAndrew
Noreen Renier has been a psychic for many years and claims to have assisted police in solving over 600 crimes. Kimberly Andrews, a 19-year-old Canadian who vanished on her way home from work in 1989, was one of these incidents. With little progress, Noreen Renier stepped in to assist in her search in 1995.
Noreen met with both police and Kimberly’s family to assist in her search. According to transcripts of her interviews, she said things like, “Your sister just just gave up on you.” When Kimberly’s sister admitted to not jotting down her dreams, she was told, “You’re the procrastinator in the family.” She provided details of Kimberly’s last day and presumed demise, many of which contradicted existing evidence. Even minor details, such as which door she used to leave work.
Police informed her of a suspect called Jamie who confessed after dispatching officers to two locations to search with divers. Only then did Noreen realize she had conjured up a name, Jimmy. When she is told that the suspect’s name is James, which she already knows, she simply comments “oh, darn.” They then do a third search, wasting even more resources. No one has ever been arrested in connection with the case.
Sylvia Browne Bungles a Kidnapping
Before her death in 2013, Sylvia Browne created a name for herself as a clairvoyant on the daytime talk show circuit and wrote a number of books. Brown informed Louwant to Miller that her daughter Amanda was dead, which turned out to be one of her most infamously incorrect psychic predictions. This occurred on The Montel Williams Show in 2004.
Louwant to death in 2006, convinced that her daughter had died. Amanda Berry was rescued from Ariel Castro’s home in 2013, along with two other women, where she had been held captive for a decade. After she escaped, she reported that Castro had kept a TV on during the day for the women to watch. In 2004, she saw her mother’s episode of Montel Williams and had to watch as a woman claiming to be a clairvoyant, a woman she thought would finally be able to give her mother the truth and set her free, claimed the exact opposite. Montel Williams eventually apologized to Berry, but Browne insisted that she was always right more than wrong, and that being mistaken about something like that was excellent.
Date/place of birth: October 19, 1936, Kansas City, Missouri, USA
Date of death: November 20, 2013, Good Samaritan Hospital, San Jose, California, USA