Ratbag Psychic rips off the stupid

Homeopaths, and other assorted quacks and psychics all have one thing in common….they are ratbag fraudsters preying on gullible and vulnerable people.

I the old days these kids of people were run out of town on a rail.

It is one thing, after having forked over tens of thousands of dollars to a psychic who warned that you had evil spirits blocking your happiness, to become suspicious and demand a refund. And, when that does not happen, to go to the police and swear out a complaint.

But it is quite another thing to sit on a witness stand in Manhattan Criminal Court and testify against the psychic, Sylvia Mitchell, who has been charged with larceny, and to face cross-examination from her lawyer. For two women who accused her of fraud, this week was the first time they were asked, at least publicly, what in the world they had been thinking.

One of the women, Debra Saalfield, a competitive ballroom dancer and instructor from Florida, testified about the summer of 2008, when she had a job with a Manhattan dance company and a boyfriend in the West Village whom she hoped to marry. All that changed.  

“My boyfriend broke up with me,” Ms. Saalfield testified. “As I was cleaning up my stuff out of his apartment, I went to my job and was fired because of the economy. I had a meltdown.”

Ms. Saalfield regularly walked past Zena, the opulent psychic shop on Seventh Avenue South that her boyfriend had warned her about. “He told me it was a bad place and never go in there,” she said. In part to spite him after the breakup, she did, and met Ms. Mitchell.

“I chose the cheapest thing on the menu, some sort of reading,” Ms. Saalfield said. That cost $75, and a second reading, $1,000. “She said that I was dealing with a past life, that I was an Egyptian princess,” and had a problem with attachment to money. Ms. Mitchell suggested that as an exercise, Ms. Saalfield write a check for $27,000 that Ms. Mitchell would hold and return whenever she wanted, Ms. Saalfield said.

Ms. Saalfield took money that she had intended to use for her daughter’s wedding, wrote the check and felt misgivings almost immediately, she testified. Over the years, Ms. Mitchell has repaid about half, she said.

People are stupid…for sure…but that doesn’t mean they should be taken for all they have.

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