Samuel Goldberg has been a Massachusetts criminal defense attorney for 20 years. Prior to that, he was a New York state prosecutor. He has published various articles regarding the practice of criminal law and frequently provides legal analysis on radio and television, appearing on outlets such as the Fox News Channel, Court TV, MSNBC and The BBC Network. To speak to Sam about a criminal matter call (617) 492 3000.

Boston Area Psychic Is Arrested For Theft And Fraud

Today, the news comes from just outside of Boston. It is a white collar fraud case that graces our blog and signals the need for a criminal defense attorney. Actually, to avoid conflict of interest problems…make that two defense attorneys.

The complainant hails from Cambridge and she alleges that she was scammed out of thousands of dollars by Kathy Y., 48 of Medford (hereinafter, the “Defendant”). As a result, both the Defendant and a 17 year old, allegedly her daughter, were arrested on October 21st and are now charged with larceny over $250 and conspiracy. Larceny over $250 is a felony charge.

The actual complainant was brought to the attention of law enforcement by her mother who explained that her daughter, 28, (hereinafter, the “Complainant”) suffers from a severe mental disability that prevents her from being able to work or provide for herself. She said her daughter was duped out of about $6,000 from a woman claiming to be a psychic. The psychic was later identified as the Defendant.

According to law enforcement, the Complainant had been approached by the Defendant, who had claimed to be a psychic named “Theresa” who read the Complainant’s palm for $25 in Porter Square. After the palm reading, the two exchanged phone numbers. Later that evening, the Defendant is said to have called the Complainant and offered to help her love life for $1,000 up front. When the Complainant explained that she did not know how to get the money from the bank, the Defendant graciously guided her in the effort. A few days later, the Complainant got the money and the two agreed to meet. When they met, the Defendant had another woman with her, who turned out to be the above-referenced 17 year old.

The Defendant reportedly asked for the money, telling the Complainant that it was to cover materials. The Complainant then gave the Defendant $,2000 and received back a liquid body wash that she was told world bring her good luck.

The following week, the Defendant contacted the Complainant again with the bad news that, ” The negative vibrations were more powerful than originally thought”. This, naturally, necessitated an additional $3,300.

Retrieving the money using the method previously guided, the Complainant met with the Defendant and company, paid the money and then left. Apparently, there were about 10 such meetings in all.

Finally, the Complainant was out of money. Not a problem. Aware of the American way of life, the Defendant allegedly instructed the Complainant how she could get money with a credit card and advised the Complainant how to do so, which she did with the sole purpose of giving the money to the Defendant.

Clearly, those negative vibrations were awfully powerful. Probably because of Halloween.

Investigating officers set up a sting operation ata meeting held on October 21st. While the Complainant and the Defendant met, the officers positioned themselves at the same coffee shop. The Defendant gave the Complainant another body wash that would “attract good vibrations towards you.” She then led the Complainant outside and explained that she needed an additional $3,000 to “prevent bad energies from coming your way.” The Complainant, apparently agreeing with the preventive approach, explained that she only had access to $1,000. The Defendant explained that this would be ok for starters, but that she would need the rest of the money within the next couple of days.

At this point, the police approached the session and arrested the Defendant and her presumed daughter.

Attorney Sam’s Take:

Well, if the police investigation was what the Defendant would consider “bad vibrations”, she was a little too late. On the other hand, after almost about a quarter century in the criminal justice system, I have never seen a body wash prevent an arrest.

Seriously, though, I know that there are many nonbelievers out there who would say that all palm readers and psychics are scam artists who should be arrested. However, they are not all clearly taking advantage of the mentally challenged to make their money. This is what made this case so egregious and ready to prosecute. Looking from the outside in, it almost looks like a “slam dunk”. Or does it?

What if the Defendant really did believe that what she was saying was true? Is it still a scam?

Well, you may think such a question is ridiculous, but it really isn’t. This larceny charge is really based on fraud. After all, it was not a robbery. In other words, the Defendant did not hold a gun to the Complainant and command her to withdraw funds and pay her.

“Yeah, Sam, but she told her that she was being threatened by bad vibrations and that these would still plague her unless the money was paid.”

True. But what if that is what the Defendant truly believed? What if she believed that truly only her psychic powers could save the Complainant? If that is the case, where is the fraud?
We start to get into Constitutional arguments here…ready for the United States Supreme Court to tackle because there is a problem with the state outlawing acting on certain religious beliefs.

“So..if she claims that she believed it….you are saying that this case is not prosecutable?”

No, that is not what I am saying. One would imagine that an investigation has been performed to prepare for this argument on the part of an experienced attorney. I also do not think that the arrest of the young woman accompanying the Defendant was really a serious prosecution. She simply sat there mute from the story. She certainly has the defense of saying that she thought that this was what her mom really believed and she believed it too and that is why she did not say anything to stop her. I can just imagine the prosecutors looking at her saying, “What a lovely potential witness”.

So, what does all this have to do with you? It is one more example of how an investigation can be underway without your knowing it. Perhaps you are involved in some religious or spiritual belief that others might not believe. Maybe you are getting paid for spreading “The Word” like most clergy do.

You could be engaging in your own beliefs and, because others tend to believe you, those who do not are seeking to stop you. Might I suggest you might also be breaking the law.

The point is that if you even suspect you are being investigated, you should seek counsel to know what your rights and your risks are. The two are not mutually exclusive.

So, the advise is the same as always. If you are looking at such criminal charges, or the potential accusations due to an investigation into such things, contact an experienced attorney to advise and defend you. Should you wish that attorney to be me, please feel free to call me at (617) 206-1942.

For the full article upon which today’s blog is based, go to http://www.wickedlocal.com/somerville/news/x884492274/Disabled-Cambridge-woman-scammed-by-psychic-in-Somerville

Note To Readers: Last Year, I did a special Halloween Blog regarding witch hunts, past and present. We will revisit that topic this year in tomorrow’s weekly Attorney Sam’s Take.

Contact Information