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‘Psychic’ Sentenced to Prison for Fraud

A “psychic” from Florida has been found guilty of fraud and sentenced to more than three years in a federal prison for fraud and theft. The Sun-Sentinel reports:

Bridgette Evans, 33, raked in $1.6 million from clients who believed she could eradicate otherworldly forces causing them misfortune, court records show. She would instruct people to send her cash—and in one case, a Rolex watch—that she would use in a spiritual ritual, promising to return the money once the spirits disappeared. She didn’t.

Along with two relatives, Evans was arrested in May and charged with tricking clients out of money since 2007. All three have cut deals with prosecutors. Evans pleaded guilty in Fort Lauderdale federal court to a count of wire fraud and a count of mail fraud.

She previously served five years’ probation after taking a plea deal in a similar “cleansing” case in 2000, U.S. District Judge William Dimitrouleas noted while sentencing her.

Of course, what she did isn’t really much different from what every other “psychic” does.

Comments

  1. parasiteboy says

    Other than promising to return the money, she is not much different than a lot of religions. Both should come with a disclaimer that says “any statements made are not intended to be factual”.

  2. Mr Ed says

    Change the word psychic to prophet and it becomes protected speech. I don’t see the difference between a psychic selling cleansing and a minister selling prosperity theology. In each case they are claiming to help people using unseen forces. If this is illegal shouldn’t Scientology auditing be illegal too?

  3. nooneinparticular says

    “Of course, what she did isn’t really much different from what every other “psychic” does.”

    Or what every other televangelist does.

  4. d cwilson says

    @parasiteboy #1:

    Ah, but many religions promise that if you give to them, it will come back to you three fold.

    Really, is what this psychic doing really any different from a church that promises that Jesus will rain blesses down on you if you donate to them?

  5. parasiteboy says

    Mr Ed@4 and d cwilson@8
    I see the difference as she made a verbal contract to return the goods sent to her, whereas the rest don’t, even though both promise something good to happen if goods are sent.

    Religion plays the “I win game” were if it happens, they say that it was because of god and if it doesn’t, god works in mysterious ways, but don’t worry you will be rewarded in heaven for your suffering.

  6. mattmeeks says

    I don’t see any differences between ‘psychic’ promises of wealth and what most televangelists do. Some churches at least provide SOME value to society through feeding/helping the homeless and other charitable works. Perhaps not as effective as secular charities who use higher percentages of their donations for actually helping people, but still.

    However, I’d like to see anyone promising prosperity, healing, etc. to get this same treatment.

  7. says

    Change the word psychic to prophet and it becomes protected speech. I don’t see the difference between a psychic selling cleansing and a minister selling prosperity theology. In each case they are claiming to help people using unseen forces. If this is illegal shouldn’t Scientology auditing be illegal too?

    There are actually some difficult first amendment issues here. On the one hand, it would be nice if everyone who made supernatural promises they couldn’t deliver on were prosecuted for fraud. On the other, people have a right to believe in superstitious nonsense, and if they want to pay someone to perform meaningless rituals, then they should be allowed to.

    I think the distinction here is that the psychic was committing fraud within the context of her victims’ beliefs. That is, she told them she would “cleanse” the money and return it, but she didn’t. Had she just said that they needed to pay her to get rid of bad vibes, or whatever, then she probably would have gotten away with it. And as sorry as it is, it’s hard to see how we could ban psychics from selling their “services” to the gullible. That’s a slippery slope we don’t want to be on.

  8. Artor says

    Of course, $1.6 million is chump change compared to the billions (trillions?) the banksters have stolen in their fraudulent rackets, and 3 yrs is much longer jail time than any of those bastards will ever see.

  9. Big Boppa says

    reverendrodney @5

    Had it been about Pat Robertson, the headline would have read
    “PSYCHOTIC SENTENCED TO PRISON FOR FRAUD”.

  10. fastlane says

    Apparently, more jesus was needed. If only there were more jeebus, it wouldn’t be fraud to make all those promises, just religion.

  11. walton says

    On the one hand, it would be nice if everyone who made supernatural promises they couldn’t deliver on were prosecuted for fraud.

    Not really. The American criminal justice system is an atrocity, and the last thing society needs is more people being prosecuted for… well, anything, pretty much. (The one exception I’d make is that more police officers and prosecutors should be prosecuted for abuse of individuals’ rights.) Nor should anyone be sent to prison for fraud, ever. Not only is imprisonment traumatizing, and very expensive to the taxpayer, incarceration also increases crime; sending someone to prison generally has the effect of fucking up their life permanently, leaving them unemployable and often addicted to drugs, making it very likely that they will reoffend again and again. I’d argue that imprisonment should be used, if at all, exclusively for rapists, murderers, domestic batterers and other seriously violent people who pose an immediate danger to others’ physical safety. (I’d also point out that most other industrialized nations have a fraction of the US prison population; the US has more than 700 per 100,000 people in prison, about six or seven times the rate in most Western European countries.)

    Criminalization is a crude and destructive tool for effecting social change, and I’d argue that the criminal justice system’s intrusion into our lives shoul be kept to an absolute minimum. I certainly don’t think that criminalizing people for making religious or psychic claims would be a good idea; such things are best left up to the marketplace of ideas.

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