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Old 9th October 2008, 03:15 PM   #1
stacia123
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psychic scam: what to do?

I have a friend whose mother and sister are involved in a psychic who is causing serious problems with the friend's family. The psychic has really sowed some seeds of discord with the family, so that "non-believers" in the family are finding themselves distanced from the mother and sister. Now the psychic is predicting the end times, the collapse of U.S. society, and has told all her clients that in the near future she will tell them when to take all their money out of the bank "for safety".

Obviously, the mother and sister have paid money to the psychic already, for seminars and readings and such. Besides the family problems, I think there may be issues just around the corner with this psychic having "advice" about what these people should do with all their money.

I've spent a long time online trying to find out what my friend's family can do, but haven't found anything. I was hoping you could help.

Also, I have the name of the psychic, and neither my friend nor I can find much of anything online about her except really positive stuff from the psychic herself and followers. I gather this is a well-known psychic -- is it okay to post her name?

Advice would be most welcome.

Last edited by stacia123; 9th October 2008 at 03:25 PM.
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Old 9th October 2008, 04:29 PM   #2
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I would give your friend the history of such scams, and cults, and let her draw her own parallels. If that doesn't work, support the rest of the family in their efforts to protect themselves from the damage that this person is going to inflict. Sadly, sometimes the only way to learn is to get burned, hopefully not to death.

If this has the potential to become a major scam, by all means, get the police involved. Just (discretely) go to them with the information you have and what this person has been telling people. Fraud seems a likely crime about to be committed. There is a better term that is just not coming to mind.
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Old 9th October 2008, 04:45 PM   #3
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Indoctrination, perhaps?

I agree with what tyr said. Re: the name, you can certainly post it if you don't post anything libelous; I'm no lawyer, but you definitely haven't so far. I'd say go for it; there are many people here with very diverse sources of knowledge, some of them may be able to give you direct and useful information.
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Old 9th October 2008, 05:31 PM   #4
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I would also suggest you get in touch with the police. They may have good "bunco" squad that is trained in handing cases like this.
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Old 9th October 2008, 06:11 PM   #5
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The psychic is Starr Fuentes.

I'm not sure the police would be an option. She hasn't done anything illegal as far as I can tell, it's not against the law to tell people that you cured someone's breast cancer by psychic powers. I don't think it's illegal, at any rate. She hasn't asked for money except for charges rendered for services like meetings and seminars, either.
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Old 9th October 2008, 06:16 PM   #6
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It still sounds like the forrunner to a (larger) scam though, and thus it wouldn't hurt to let the authorities know. At the very least they can tell you when you should be worried.
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Old 9th October 2008, 06:22 PM   #7
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Psychic healers are some of the lowest of scum, because they take money from people who really need it for real treatment.
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Old 9th October 2008, 06:37 PM   #8
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I would try going Socratic on them.

A year or so back when there was a big meteor passing by earth, a friend of mine was among those who was <b>convinced</b> that the world was going to end. So I simply reeled him back into reality with as polite and neutral questions as possible...
"What do you think's going to happen?"
"Do you really think that's going to happen?"
"How credible do you think that sounds?"
"What are the experts saying about it?"
"What does [your source of information] know that everybody else is missing out on?"
"Do you want to know how I feel, and why I feel that way?"

They're people you love. This psychic is playing up to their basic fears and framing the issues in ways that are internally coherent but externally implausible. Reframe what happens to them. Reframe the "reading" experience so that they understand that it's just a person sitting in a room mumbling to them. Lead them to water, and drink.
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Old 9th October 2008, 06:41 PM   #9
Confuseling
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Sometimes I'd say it's a good idea to steer someone towards a good introductory sceptical book. Sometimes that just alienates them further from you, and this sounds like that kind of situation - they have no intention of being challenged, and know who their enemies are.

Can you account for why they would be being dragged towards such a group? What psychological need does it fulfill? Could this be a manifestation of an underlying condition - a failing relationship, a loss, a trauma; driving them away from their relatives and their conventions?

Perhaps a better approach - try to get them together and talking, and if the rift heals they can work out their metaphysical differences peaceably. And all armchair psychobabble comes with the usual disclaimer
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Old 9th October 2008, 07:27 PM   #10
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Wow, she's really something isn't she. I looked at her web site. Oddly she has an article written in 2005 where she claims there will be NO earth changes, so you might check that out and see if suddenly she is contradicting herself there.

Also, I found this, from a bizarre sounding article on some type of DNA activation therapy: "We all have 12 strands of DNA. While for most people, 2 strands are active within the physical body, it has been shown in recent years, that more and more people are being born with 3 or even 4 strands of physical DNA. It has also been shown that some people who were born with 2 strands have, at a certain point in their life, physically activated a 3rd strand. This is all a sign of our evolution as a species, and as a consciousness. No matter how many strands a person has physically active in her/his body, everyone has 12 strands in his/her light body. As we continue to evolve as a consciousness, more and more people will physically anchor in more and more strands."

Somehow I am guessing that there is not a lot of scientific truth to this, so you might try investigating from that angle. If she can be shown to be way off base with a few claims, you might have more leverage.

On the Barnes & Noble web site, the description of her healing book makes a claim that she can heal cancer. I am not sure if that is illegal in the United States or not.

Otherwise, I don't know what you can do. I advise people just to NOT make any drastic life-changing decisions they might regret. You can point out just how often down through history psychics have been wrong with their earth changes claims and try to get them to see that this is no different. Do they really want to make major decisions at the recommendation of someone like this, when they have no solid whatsoever that she can do what she claims (personal testimonials do not count; they can be made up!) Elizabeth Clare Prophet's group is a good example of earth changes hysteria, and there are lots of others.

Good luck!
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Old 9th October 2008, 07:33 PM   #11
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Originally Posted by stacia123 View Post
The psychic is Starr Fuentes.
I'm looking at her website right now:

http://www.starrfuentes.com/

Here's a bit on long distance healing:

Quote:
Long distance healing is a method of releasing the energy of dis-ease. In the energy structure of our bodies a dis-ease is held in place by energies from blocks, core issues or patterns. When a person has a chronic dis-ease, these energies can be stubborn and strong. To release the dis-ease's energy from the body requires an equal or greater amount of energy. The energy that releases and replaces dis-ease energy is Divine Light. The light which heals moves faster than light speed... it can reach anywhere on the planet within seconds.
And the strangest part - check out "What you can expect"

Quote:
• Something or Subtle Results
• Powerful Realizations
• No New Realizations
• Shifts in Energy of Your Dis-ease
• A Release of Symptoms
• Intensification of Symptoms
• Presense of Someone In Your Room
• Hands Touching You
• A Dream About the Healer
Doesn't sound too reliable does it? (but it does sound a little bit creepy )
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Old 9th October 2008, 07:35 PM   #12
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I too had a similar situation though involving less people, I solved it in a muscular manner that I wouldn't advise to others. On reflection it could have gone badly wrong. If I had to do it again I would direct the victim to Mr Lancaster's admirable expose of Sylvia Brown at his site. http://www.stopsylvia.com/
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Old 9th October 2008, 07:59 PM   #13
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Hi

Go with it.

Just take each step one step further!

"The system is crashing."
"Yes: We'd better make sure we can recover afterward."

"Take all your money out of the bank."
"Yes: We'd better put it all into Post Office Travelers' Checks so no one can cut you down as long as the nation exists and you don't do something silly like counter-signing them all."

Like that.

In my (admittedly limited) experience, it's like a stampede. Once things like this start rolling, it's almost impossible to stop, but it can be redirected in a safer direction with an occasional nudge until it runs out of steam on its own.

Who was it that said, "you can't reason someone out of a position they didn't reason themselves into in the first place?"
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Old 9th October 2008, 08:08 PM   #14
stacia123
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Originally Posted by Confuseling View Post
Can you account for why they would be being dragged towards such a group? What psychological need does it fulfill? Could this be a manifestation of an underlying condition - a failing relationship, a loss, a trauma; driving them away from their relatives and their conventions?
I wouldn't know about the mother's needs. My friend is aware that there is some reason that her mom and sister are attracted to the psychic, though she doesn't know why.

When my friend first mentioned the psychic she said her mother ended up in tears from the things the psychic yelled at her, and at that point the psychic started speaking in tongues. I can't figure out why that behavior would attract anyone, but you can tell from looking online that many are attracted to her.
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Old 9th October 2008, 08:14 PM   #15
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You know, I just realized that there is a psychic and a healing trainer involved, it's not just one single psychic. So I think I misrepresented a little bit there, sorry. I don't know who the healing trainer is, but she and the psychic are associated with each other.
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Old 9th October 2008, 08:33 PM   #16
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Originally Posted by Gagglegnash View Post
Hi

Go with it.

Just take each step one step further!

"The system is crashing."
"Yes: We'd better make sure we can recover afterward."

"Take all your money out of the bank."
"Yes: We'd better put it all into Post Office Travelers' Checks so no one can cut you down as long as the nation exists and you don't do something silly like counter-signing them all."

Like that.

In my (admittedly limited) experience, it's like a stampede. Once things like this start rolling, it's almost impossible to stop, but it can be redirected in a safer direction with an occasional nudge until it runs out of steam on its own.

Who was it that said, "you can't reason someone out of a position they didn't reason themselves into in the first place?"
Mr Gagglegnash, did anyone ever tell you that you're like a more rational, straight forward, coherent version of Tim4848?
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Old 9th October 2008, 08:54 PM   #17
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Yeah, I noticed the what you can expect section, too. "No new realizations" - what is that, a disclaimer? Weird.
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Old 10th October 2008, 03:43 AM   #18
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Originally Posted by stacia123 View Post
I'm not sure the police would be an option. She hasn't done anything illegal as far as I can tell, it's not against the law to tell people that you cured someone's breast cancer by psychic powers. I don't think it's illegal, at any rate.
What country are you in? In the UK it's very much illegal to claim to be able to cure, or to have cured, cancer.
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Old 10th October 2008, 03:56 AM   #19
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For a lighthearted look at eschatological veracity, A Brief History of the Apocalypse is always a winner.

http://www.abhota.info/end1.htm
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Old 10th October 2008, 01:42 PM   #20
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Hi

Originally Posted by Ron_Tomkins View Post
Mr Gagglegnash, did anyone ever tell you that you're like a more rational, straight forward, coherent version of Tim4848?

AHA! Damning with faint praise, eh?

I see that he and I both use paragraphing in a very newspapery way, but until this very forum-moment I hadn't read any of his writing, so I was unaware of my apparent... uhhh... tim4848liness.

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Old 10th October 2008, 02:04 PM   #21
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Have you checked krelnik's whatstheharm.net? You might find similar stories to show your friend.

You might also check with the Better Business Bureau to see if any complaints have been filed against the psychic. Can you check with the police to see if there have been any complaints filed with them?

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Old 10th October 2008, 09:51 PM   #22
Ron_Tomkins
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Originally Posted by Gagglegnash View Post
Hi




AHA! Damning with faint praise, eh?

I see that he and I both use paragraphing in a very newspapery way, but until this very forum-moment I hadn't read any of his writing, so I was unaware of my apparent... uhhh... tim4848liness.

But if you haven't read any of his writing, how do you know that he paragraphs in a very newspapery way?

Hmmmm.... growing suspicious.
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Old 10th October 2008, 11:31 PM   #23
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Scam artists often rely on the fact that the person who is swindled is too embarrassed to get the police involved, so the crime goes unreported. Pay a visit to the psychic and let her know that you know who she is. Inform her that you've let the police know of the potential for fraud in this situation, and that if anything happens to your friend's savings the cops will be on her like white on rice.

Steve S.
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Old 11th October 2008, 03:22 AM   #24
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I don't know if this would work, Stacia123, but maybe you could read up on some of the techniques psychics tend to use, and drop them into conversations now and again. You wouldn't have to say you suspect their particular psychic of doing them; but they might come to that conclusion in their own time. Here are a few links:
Before You See a Psychic...By Tony Youens
The Art of Cold Reading.
Permits to Prevent Fortune-Telling Scams (CNN, Jun 2003).
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Old 11th October 2008, 09:16 AM   #25
Gagglegnash
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Hi

Originally Posted by Ron_Tomkins View Post
But if you haven't read any of his writing, how do you know that he paragraphs in a very newspapery way?

Hmmmm.... growing suspicious.

Ummm... dude: At the top of the page, Search, then Advanced Search, then enter, "Tim4848," in the Search by User Name field, and I can read all the Tim4848 stuff I... well... I guess... all I want to.

I hadn't been aware of his stuff until you mentioned our similarities. I wanted to find out what you meant, so I went and looked him up.

Also - this is fairly common in journalistic writing.

A paragraph is used to express a single thought, and sentences are used to develop the thought. As such, in journalism, the writer tries to boil down the thought to be presented in such a way as to be able to express it in a single sentence.

As for me, I just have trouble getting my brain around much more than a single thought at a time. I use journalistic style as an excuse. :-D
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Old 11th October 2008, 09:27 AM   #26
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Hi

Originally Posted by steve s View Post
Scam artists often rely on the fact that the person who is swindled is too embarrassed to get the police involved, so the crime goes unreported. Pay a visit to the psychic and let her know that you know who she is. Inform her that you've let the police know of the potential for fraud in this situation, and that if anything happens to your friend's savings the cops will be on her like white on rice.

Steve S.

I don't think this'll work.

When you run a long con, you behave scrupulously, avoiding any hint of illegality, right up until the payoff, then you evaporate like Arizona summer dew.

DO tell the police. DO keep an eye on your friend. DO NOT tell the psychic. Warning her of a possible crimp in her con will just make her change tactics, and some of the tactics a con can take are best described as, "unhappy."

Oh - and - if you know who she is, see if you can get the police to find out if she has any warrants outstanding from other states!

Interstate flight to avoid prosecution is a FEDERAL offense, you see, and the FBI has a long, Long, LONG memory.
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But it does me no injury for my neighbor to say there are twenty gods or no God. It neither picks my pocket nor breaks my leg.
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Question with boldness even the existence of a god; because if there be one he must approve of the homage of reason more than that of blindfolded fear.
-----Thomas Jefferson, Letter to Peter Carr, August 10, 1787
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Old 11th October 2008, 06:59 PM   #27
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From Starr Fuentes' site:

Quote:
The energy that releases and replaces dis-ease energy is Divine Light. The light which heals moves faster than light speed... it can reach anywhere on the planet within seconds.
BUAH HAH HAH HAH! I almost had my coffee up to my lips when I read that. Good thing I didn't or I'd be burned and my computer would smell like BK Joe!

"Within seconds"? She must be talking about the infamous Discworld slow light.
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Old 11th October 2008, 08:20 PM   #28
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That's really, really slow light.
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Old 11th October 2008, 08:31 PM   #29
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Here's another one from Fuentes' site:

"Rather, more than 90% of what is taught is learned on the subconscious level. By being in the presence of a master teacher, the student learns with his/her aura from the aura of the teacher 10,000 pieces of information per minute on how to access and work with, in this case, the appropriate energies for activating, anchoring, and re-structuring the DNA."

I bet Sylvia Browne wishes she'd thought of this. When she does her 20-minute psychic readings, instead of having to actually do anything, she could talk for 2 minutes and then sit there and let the person absorb the other 90%of the information in their aura while she smokes a few cigarettes and files her nails. It's brilliant!
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Old 11th October 2008, 08:45 PM   #30
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Re-structuring DNA would be easy to prove. She hasn't, so obviously she doesn't. Simple
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Old 12th October 2008, 04:43 AM   #31
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These types of therapists can be enticing because they have some success with a fair number of conditions, because stress and tension can make conditions worse, and the relaxation people can find under the care of someone who soothes and pampers them, and perhaps teaches them relaxation techniques, can relieve it. For instance, stress can damage the immune system, obviously reducing the body's ability to fight things. The tension it causes can make pain much worse, and cause pains that weren't there to begin with, partly because tense muscles can start to hurt. So learning to relax and feeling cared-for can cause physical improvements in some conditions.

So exposing such things as what she says as unscientific might help, but it might not be enough. What might help even more is if they learn more about stress management skills and find ways of improving things in their lives so more of their emotional needs get met, so they don't feel so much like turning to a seemingly caring/soothing person like her for help.
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Old 12th October 2008, 06:29 AM   #32
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Originally Posted by stacia123 View Post
She hasn't done anything illegal as far as I can tell, it's not against the law to tell people that you cured someone's breast cancer by psychic powers.
This sounds like someone who is claiming to be a doctor. I wonder what the AMA would think of someone pretending to be an oncologist...
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Old 12th October 2008, 01:20 PM   #33
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Originally Posted by xinit View Post
This sounds like someone who is claiming to be a doctor. I wonder what the AMA would think of someone pretending to be an oncologist...
Unfortunately, here in the US, faith healing for compensation is legal (if you jump through the right loop holes, like getting legally ordained). So legal, in fact, that the US government will pay for faith healing treatments for people on government health care programs

The FDA attempted to sue over a case of faith healing (Christian Scientists were the defendants) and lost due to a really crappy loop hole in the law

On the plus side, if this woman is not a legally ordained "minister" of any sort, what she is doing (claiming to cure cancer if you pay her to) is actually illegal, and could get her at least fined if not put in jail (depending upon how many people she made these claims to, how public the claims were, and whether or not she was paid to provide the "care" in her claims).
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Old 12th October 2008, 08:47 PM   #34
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You could have your friend ask her sister and mother why they're listening to a woman who claims to cure cancer, yet hasn't managed to cure her own obesity dis-ease.
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Old 12th October 2008, 09:27 PM   #35
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Because obesity isn't a disease, although sometimes it is the symptom of one.

To be clear I'm using the real definition of disease, not the, 'a condition adversely effecting health' bs.
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Old 12th October 2008, 09:47 PM   #36
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Originally Posted by tyr_13 View Post
Because obesity isn't a disease, although sometimes it is the symptom of one.

To be clear I'm using the real definition of disease, not the, 'a condition adversely effecting health' bs.
I'm assuming she adds the hyphen to the word for a reason, although I haven't read her site in any detail, so I'm using her definition here. Her magical curative powers should surely be able to "ease" her obesity.
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Old 12th October 2008, 10:29 PM   #37
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Originally Posted by Gagglegnash View Post
I don't think this'll work.

When you run a long con, you behave scrupulously, avoiding any hint of illegality, right up until the payoff, then you evaporate like Arizona summer dew.

I disagree. She's apparently well known and well established. The last thing she'll want to do is have to live on the lam under a different name. She'd have to start over from scratch. Unless she's able to scam a very large sum from the woman she'll probably want to stay where she is.


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DO NOT tell the psychic. Warning her of a possible crimp in her con will just make her change tactics,
That's the whole point, getting her to drop her plans for scamming the victim (if that's what she's really planning to do.) Letting her know that this woman has people who are looking out for her interests and are willing to get the police involved may be what it takes to keep the psychic on the straight and narrow (at least regarding this particular woman.)

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Old 13th October 2008, 04:41 AM   #38
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I think I agree. These people are either willfully misguided, or pathologically dishonest - and it seems to me that it's the pathologically dishonest ones that rise to the top. Forcing a 'shake-up', if that is indeed what happens, could be a good way to expose an inconsistency or engineer some revealing backtracking. I think the only risk is that you create even more family trouble for the friend - you have to decide whether that's a risk worth taking. You could even take the anonymous route - I'm certainly not advocating harassment, and can't offer legal advice, but a polite phone call explaining that you believe she is about to undertake fraud and intend to respond with the full force of the law if she does, or even a letter from a solicitor, could give her pause for thought.
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Old 13th October 2008, 07:20 AM   #39
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This is from her home page:

"After decades of study with shamans, healers, Curenderos and Masters, Starr Fuentes has dedicated her life to helping others with the full unfolding of their purposes, paths and destinies. A master healer, spiritual teacher and intuitive Starr is bishop of 828 healing ministries worldwide, teaches more than 400 subjects, and has guided countless individuals down the path of healing, self-awareness and truth.

She combines the use of modern psychological tools with ancient healing and shamanistic traditions, presenting a fountain of information in a teaching style that is animated, dynamic, and full of life. She has trained over one-hundred teachers who continue to spread her alternative healing wisdom throughout the United States, Europe, Israel, Brazil, Australia, Canada, and Asia."


She could always make up a claim to have been ordained by a shaman in Brazil, couldn't she? For that matter, she calls herself a bishop. Bishop of what, ordained by who?

I wonder if there is any truth to her claim of having 828 healing ministries worldwide or if that is of the same order as Browne's claim to have a Master's in English.

If true, she's potentially as dangerous, maybe even more so with her outright claims to be able to "heal the energies of cancer."
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Old 13th October 2008, 08:21 AM   #40
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Originally Posted by ExMinister View Post
I wonder if there is any truth to her claim of having 828 healing ministries worldwide or if that is of the same order as Browne's claim to have a Master's in English.
It could mean 828 people have done one of her healing courses.
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