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Psychic Sued in Texas

We’ve seen a significant ramping up of criminal prosecutions of “psychics” for defrauding their clients, but now an attorney in Houston is suing a local “psychic” for fraud after spending $3200 to have the “psychic” align his chakras so he could find love. The “treatment” didn’t work.

Michael G. Busby Jr. filed the suit Dec. 16 against Psychic Love Spell Center, Melena Thorn, aka Christine Mitchell, and other named defendants.

According to the plaintiff’s petition, Busby went to Thorn on Dec. 4 for a $30 tarot card reading.

After the reading, Thorn recommended a ritual “to unite husband and wife” and sold it to Busby for $500, the petition states.

Part of the ritual involved “chakras,” or centers of spiritual power in the body, which required use of special lights.

For the lights, Busby paid Thorn $2,700, which was placed in a box. Thorn allegedly told Busby she would cleanse the money and return it to him within four hours, along with dolls to represent the man and the woman.

Finishing the ritual involved placing the box under the marital bed and saying prayers, the petition states.

The money and the box were given to Thorn at 5 p.m. Dec. 6, but had not been returned to Busby when the suit was filed 10 days later, the petition states.

As always, I’m of two minds on cases like this. On the one hand, I’d be more than happy to see a “psychic” held accountable for their fraud. On the other hand, if this guy was stupid enough to think that this was going to help him find a woman, he kind of had it coming.

Comments

  1. blf says

    I have NO sympathy for either fraudster. The supposed victim is also at fault, along with the obvious conman. Both complete idiots should be jailed and/or fined.

    Going by Ed’s summary, an alleged attorney being the “victim” suggests a lot of case reviews need to be done: Anyone prosecuted or defended by that obvious incompetent — who should be disbarred for complete stupidity — potentially has a case.

  2. John Pieret says

    Assuming this suit was filed in a court he regularly practices in, it will soon be known to all his colleagues … to many sniggers. The psychic might have been counting on that keeping him from suing and revealing how stupid he had been. Or he could be so stupid as not to have thought of the possible consequences of suing. Either way, the operative work is “stupid.”

  3. says

    The real fraud in this case was her telling the client/sucker that she’d give him the $2,700 back. That was her mistake. His mistake, of course, was being a sucker.

    I wonder how much that guy spends on email Viagra and penis enhancements?

  4. Pierce R. Butler says

    What with that … a ritual “to unite husband and wife” … and … under the marital bed …, it sounds more like our lonesome Lone Star lawyer here wanted to keep a woman, rather than find one.

    Perhaps the evidence that he was willing to spend thousands on that project may help a little, but I kinda doubt it.

  5. grumpyoldfart says

    If the psychic says she has a “god given talent” the Texas jury will probably agree and acquit.

  6. freemage says

    Yes, it’s obvious when viewed from the outside. But so are pyramid schemes and hard-sell time-share scams. The nature of these predatory frauds is to find people who aren’t stupid generally (such individuals rarely have enough money to be worth targeting), but rather, otherwise intelligent people who are in a state of emotional distress, and take advantage of the confusion and desperation that such a state brings.

    So yes, i do sympathize with the lawyer, not because I’ve ever been conned like this, but because I can look back and see moments in my life when I was sufficiently confounded by life that I could have been. Show a little humility and compassion, folks. As John Pieret notes in his post @ #3, part of the scam relies on the victim’s shame at being taken in by something that’s so obviously a fraud after the fact keeping them from filing a complaint. Smugly deriding the victim as stupid HELPS the con-men continue their business.

  7. rabbitscribe says

    #% John Hinkle: I agree that psychics are frauds. But then, I’m an Aries. We’re very skeptical like that.

  8. Orion Silvertree says

    On the other hand, if this guy was stupid enough [...], he kind of had it coming.

    No. No, no, no, no, no.

    This is an abject failure of empathy. Stupidity is not, as itself, a moral failing, and does not make one deserving of exploitation.

    By analogy:

    “On the other hand, if Trayvon Martin enraged George Zimmerman with insulting trash-talk, he kind of had it coming.”

    “On the other hand, if she was drunk in public dressed like a ‘slut’, she kind of had it coming.”

    No.

  9. John Pieret says

    freemage:

    Smugly deriding the victim as stupid HELPS the con-men continue their business.

    Sorry, but what he did was stupid. But we can all act stupidly at times, as you point out.

    The only way I implied that he may be stupid, rather than merely acting stupidly on that occasion, was if he wasn’t able to forsee that word would get out about a suit and that he would be made fun of. But then he wouldn’t be deterred, would he?

    There was another possibility that I should have included: he realized he acted stupidly but decided that it was more important to stop the psychic from doing it to someone else than it was to keep his actions secret. That would be smart. But, in that case, I would expect him to go to the police and help them set up a sting where the evidence wasn’t just he said/she said.

  10. says

    The psychic just got greedy. The best psychics know that pigeons should be plucked slowly. Don’t try to make them cough up a big wad of cash right away. Keep them coming back week and week, ratcheting up your fees with each visit. It’s the old frog-in-a-pot metaphor. She conned him out of less than three grand. She could have made ten times that off of just him over the course of a year. Three or four more suckers clients and she could fortune tell her way into a Mercedes by summer.

    It works for the Church of Scientology, too.

  11. Raucous Indignation says

    No one “had it coming.” That sentiment is revolting.

    If you blame the suckers who get conned, you can can use the same logic to blame any victim of any unethical or cruel treatment. Right? Violence against women? She had it coming. Violence against gays or transgender individuals? Oh they definitely had it coming. Wall Street bankrupting the country? The lazy proles had it coming.

    Right?

  12. dogfightwithdogma says

    On the other hand, if this guy was stupid enough to think that this was going to help him find a woman, he kind of had it coming.

    Isn’t that blaming the victim? Is blaming the victim ever justified? If so, why and under what circumstances? Since all of us are susceptible to some degree to becoming a victim of our own cognitive biases, I can’t bring myself to blame the victim even in cases like this when it seems logical to do so. I have a very good friend locally who was taken in by a psychic to the tune of $1500. Today he is a very active part of the skeptical community. But I can’t bring myself to believe that what happened to him was his due for a failure at the time to apply rational, critical thinking to his circumstances. Fortunately he learned a valuable lesson, a lesson which aroused his critical thinking abilities. A few years ago he married the founder of Cleveland Skeptics and is now very active in that organization. A more finely-tuned skeptical mind you are unlikely to find.

  13. lofgren says

    I agree with freemage et al, generally. still, I can’t help but feel (“feel” rather than “think” being used deliberately here) that abject stupidity is different from other potential victim-blaming cases, even when I am the victim. It’s similar to the feeling you get when somebody is acting like a total douche in a bar and gets a righteous kick in the balls from a high-heeled shoe. Yeah, OK, it’s clearly still an assault, but also fuck that guy.

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