Long Island Medium to Face Formal Fraud Charges?

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According to reports, Long Island Medium Theresa Caputo could soon face formal fraud charges, just as Miss Cleo before her faced when Federal prosecutors had had enough of her bilking clients out of their money. Caputo may be engaged in the same practice, according to private investigators. In a report on the website Radar Online, it is revealed that the problems began when audience members started to complain about feeling duped and they made their complaints public. They say that Caputo is basically stealing money from audience members and preying on bereaved, vulnerable people.

They say the Long Island Medium has been engaging in an age-old parlor trick called “cold reading.” This is when the medium throws out a string of information hoping to get a hit. Because of a psychological phenomenon known as “confirmation bias,” a person’s brain will see connections in information and make order out of random tidbits, say those dedicated to debunking claims of the supernatural.

For example, by asking “who here has a person who passed whose name starts with the letter M?” the psychic can bank on the fact that there is almost certain to be someone in the audience who knows someone with an M in his or her name who has died. To the person, it appears as though the psychic is speaking directly to them, because it makes “so much sense” and there is “no way she could know” about that person’s loved one.

According to experts dedicated to debunking supernatural phenomena, highly skilled cold readers like John Edward and Caputo the Long Island Medium have sharply tuned natural observational techniques they employ to make the illusion seem flawless. They can pick up on the slightest facial expression as either a confirmation or denial of the information they are throwing out. They can also assess a person’s appearance, clothing and accessories to determine his or her economic standing, which then gives clues as to the possible professions his or her loved ones may have had. A person’s age can determine who they may have lost. Two 20-something bereaved parents may have suffered the death of a young child, for example. Using these and other clues, it becomes easy to offer accurate-seeming pieces of information.

In Caputo’s case, however, there have been allegations that she not only uses cold reading techniques, but also employs audience plants, eavesdropping, and prior internet research to find out a wealth of information about her audiences and private clients which she later uses in the readings. If this proves to be true, it could be possible that she may face formal fraud charges. There has been an uptick in the number of charges and convictions of psychics recently. Last year, a California couple was charged with defrauding a man out of over a million dollars via claims of supernatural origin, such as being able to tell his fortune and break a supposed “curse” he was under.

Fort Lauderdale psychic Rose Marks was brought up on fraud charges after taking $25 million from her clients. She was found guilty on 14 counts of fraud. In March, she was sentenced to Federal prison and was carted away immediately in handcuffs to serve a ten year sentence.

Reports state that Caputo charges $175 for attendance at one of her public readings. The Long Island Medium also takes private readings in her home. Currently, there is a three-year waiting list to see her, and the appointments don’t come cheap. Online reports by people who have seen Caputo state that she charges $800 per hour. The question is, would that be enough to get the feds interested and have Caputo face formal fraud charges? It has happened before to people claiming to be psychic mediums, and it is not so far-fetched now that audience members have been filing legal complaints against the Long Island Medium. The private investigator working the case says he finds Caputo’s actions “despicable.” It remains to be seen whether the Feds will feel the same way, but, for the people who say they have been scammed out of their money, action on the case can’t come soon enough. One bereaved mother said she, along with other audience members, felt “defeated and deflated” after attending one of Caputo’s shows. ‘I’m no longer a believer,” she says, left to deal with her shattered dreams of reconnecting with her deceased son and her grief over the loss alone.