Psychic Found Guilty in $25 Million Fraud
A woman who told her clients she had psychic powers that could fix their problems – past, future and tax-related – was found guilty of fraud and money laundering by a jury in federal criminal court.
Rose Marks, who ran a psychic business in New York City and Fort Lauderdale, was immediately taken into custody after the jury’s verdict and faces up to 20 years in prison.
Among Marks’ affluent clients who testified against her were a U.S. Naval Academy graduate, a British lawyer, a secretary for an accounting firm and other executives.
One of her former clients, best-selling romance novel author Jude Devereux, consulted Marks – who went by the name “Joyce Michaels” – for 17 years seeking help in getting out of an abusive marriage, several miscarriages and the accidental death of her 8-year-old son Sam.
Prosecutors said Marks masterminded a conspiracy to prey on vulnerable people and their spiritual and religious beliefs, kept money from customers that she promised to return, and hid the fraudulent profits by signing checks to be cashed or deposited by others.
Devereux said she lost about $20 million but that she isn’t trying to get that money back.
“The whole thing was never about money. I just wanted justice and mainly to make her stop hurting other people and maybe to make her whole family stop this,” Devereux said after the guilty verdict.
She said that the “number one warning sign” is when a psychic or spiritual advisor tells you to keep things secret.
Marks had argued that her work was legal and that the money she collected from customers were honest earnings or gifts from clients or loans.
Prosecutors Larry Bardfeld and Roger Stefin have filed court papers to force Marks to return $25 million to victims.
But Marks’ attorney, Fred Schwartz, said the 62 year-old grandmother, who began working when she was 8 or 9, has no remaining assets and expects to die in federal prison. Schwartz said he will appeal because of government misconduct by investigators for not recording their conversations with victims.
Marks’ psychic company was a family business: Marks’ daughter, two sons and their spouses all pleaded guilty to similar charges and will be sentenced later this year.