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Flim-Flam in the UK? PDF Print E-mail
Swift
Written by James Randi   

It just never stops. Otherwise intelligent people still turn to woo-woo to solve their problems. One of the latest is Simon Trussell, 41, of London, UK, a lovesick restaurant owner who was estranged from his lady friend Mary Pratt. He feverishly consulted Psychic TV, a Sky and Freeview channel in the UK serving mediums and spiritualists, and was given a phone number to call and speak with a "psychic" advisor, George Lavery, 42, who uses the professional name Simon Lavery. The con man assured his victim that all would be well after his awesome powers were unleashed. To begin, he told Trussell to purchase a cell phone which he said he would pass to his ex. This was done, and Trussell began receiving dozens of text messages on his own cell phone in which Mary asked for cash and gifts - to be sent through Lavery.

He naturally complied. Over the next eight months, Trussell, 41, handed over as much as £6,000 cash, £800 of naughty leather fetish gear, a sofa, and even a £6,000 engagement ring - a total of £12,800 [US$21,000].

You guessed it: the "psychic" was lying - hard to believe, but true! He and an accomplice were stealing the cash and goodies, not sending them to Miss Pratt! Lavery, demonstrating his obviously well-developed gift for precognition, fled to Gibraltar with his co-conspirator John Hamilton, in advance of their possible conviction at a fraud trial. When they didn't show up in court, the two were given - in absentia - lengthy jail terms, three years and 30 months respectively, and ordered to pay £10,000 in compensation. At the trial, Mr. Trussell told the court how he'd started by paying up to £45 [US$75] for 45-minute sessions with the psychic and was told Miss Pratt would be coming back into his life. He testified:

The first message was that she wanted to start the relationship up, and Simon was helping her through a difficult period, and what a great guy he was and I should help him.

After some time, during which he sent the cash and gifts, said Trussell, he received a text message - supposedly from Miss Pratt - announcing that she now wanted to get married, which led him to buy the engagement ring. Then when he heard nothing back from his ex, he thought it was very rude of her. Then he solved the problem, and decided he'd been flummoxed. It was all over, and he called the cops.

As a result, Trussell said, he'd now moved on from that relationship and found a new girlfriend. But I'm sure he now knows what to do if this relationship goes sour. He'll consult Psychic TV, of course.

Why not?

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Comments (21)Add Comment
Tax?
written by Michael K Gray, June 11, 2009
This case strikes me as akin to one of indulging in lotteries, vis:
a stupidity tax.

I can see little substantive difference between the two voluntary acts that are arranged by the respective professional benders-of-the-truth, the psycho-frauds and the lottery publicists.

I trust that someone will correct me, should I be "way off the mark".
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written by kenhamer, June 11, 2009
Lotteries: You can't lose if you don't play.
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written by Chewing Gum, June 11, 2009
You'd think "Psychic TV" or Sky would be held partially responsible as well, for de facto endorsing Lavery by giving his phone number to Trussel. They have a responsibility not to deliver fraud beyond the usual level of psychics.
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written by philandstuff, June 11, 2009
£6,000 cash, £800 of naughty leather fetish gear, a sofa, and even a £6,000 engagement ring - a total of £12,800

These numbers only add up if the sofa was free...
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written by Cian, June 11, 2009
what parasites!! smilies/angry.gif
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written by MadScientist, June 11, 2009
The emotionally fragile usually make great marks. At least that guy had the guts to go to the police and file a lawsuit.

A friend of mine in Australia was telling me of a friend who'd been had (a bit greedy and too trusting rather than emotionally distraught). This guy had the perfect opportunity to set up a meeting between the scamsters and the police (the scamsters were trying to take him a second time) - so he goes to the police, but they're not the least bit interested in his story. The officer on duty at the desk didn't seem to believe any crime had been committed since no guns and knives were involved. Of course the mark wasn't all that intelligent either and gave up rather than spend a bit of time looking for the right cop for the job. The con job cost the guy $20k and it was a fairly typical confidence trickster story which requires very little fact finding to show up the fraud.
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written by redwench, June 12, 2009
Nothing fraudulent about lotteries. They tell you up front that, statistically speaking, you'll never see your money again. Wander to the websites of the lotteries, and the odds are nicely tabulated for you. Stupidity tax, certainly. But not fraudulent. smilies/grin.gif
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written by bosshog, June 12, 2009
"He naturally complied".
Naturally? Predictably, maybe.
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written by bosshog, June 12, 2009
Remember folks, this man and millions just like him also have the right to vote in elections. Look at the world's leaders and consider.
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written by bosshog, June 12, 2009
"As a result, Trussell said, he'd now moved on from that relationship and found a new girlfriend."
No doubt he has - women really go for a sucker.
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written by Kuroyume, June 12, 2009
Yep, that's the message I remember most from Jesus...
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written by Alan3354, June 12, 2009
If the psychic hadn't scammed him, some Nigerian would have.
As George Carlin said, "Think how stupid people are. Then remember that 50% of them are stupider than that." (not an exact quote)
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written by Jim Shaver, June 12, 2009
Alan3354, I think this is a better way to word the Carlin joke: "Think how stupid people are, on average. Then remember that half of them are even dumber than that."

Michael K Gray, I wouldn't say you are "way off the mark", just off the mark, when you call lotteries "stupidity taxes". As redwench said, state-run lotteries are not fraudulent; they tell you the exact odds up front. As with most things people like to do, betting on lotteries is fun in moderation and can become dangerous if done to excess. That fact does not make playing the lotteries stupid, at all, IMO.
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Lotteries arent all bad
written by David P, June 12, 2009
Lotteries arent all bad, in California at least, the proceeds go to education. I work for an educational institution and we have a fund every year supplied from lottery money. We use it to buy technology equipment (computers, software etc) among other things. Lotteries enable the people who normally wouldnt donate money to education to help in some small way smilies/grin.gif
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Lotteries.
written by bigjohn756, June 12, 2009
In Texas the lottery was offered as an alternative to a state income tax. As a result, I make sure to spend a few dollars every year on Lotto tickets in order to insure that it succeeds so I will avoid an income tax. It hasn't cost all that much because, every so often, I win a couple of bucks which offsets my "investment". In addition, I gain some entertainment value from the anticipation of winning millions of dollars. I always hold my breath....
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written by Alan3354, June 12, 2009
written by Jim Shaver, June 12, 2009

Alan3354, I think this is a better way to word the Carlin joke: "Think how stupid people are, on average. Then remember that half of them are even dumber than that."

I agree, that sounds more like what Carlin said. I didn't have the time to google it when I was writing. But now it's the weekend.
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written by BillyJoe, June 12, 2009
As with most things people like to do, betting on lotteries is fun in moderation...That fact does not make playing the lotteries stupid
If you also think throwing money in the fire is fun and not stupid, then I guess you are right. smilies/cool.gif

Lotteries arent all bad, in California at least, the proceeds go to education.
Why don't you donate directly, then it will all go to education rather than just a percentage?

I gain some entertainment value from the anticipation of winning millions of dollars. I always hold my breath....
Take a deep breath...
The odds are such that it effectively will not happen. In other words the odds are as close to zero as not to matter.

BJ
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"Flummoxed"?
written by gebobs, June 14, 2009
Then he solved the problem, and decided he'd been flummoxed.


Are you trying to say he realized he was defrauded? "I don't think "flummoxed" is the right word in this context.

flummox:
bewilder; confound; confuse.
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written by BillyJoe, June 14, 2009
fleeced?
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written by Steel Rat, July 09, 2009
It's not sad that people turn to this stuff. It's sad that such stuff exists to turn to. Without opportunistic frauds such as Lavery, Browne, Van Fraud, Edwards, Gellar, etc. to peddle this garbage, people wouldn't turn to it.
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Well....
written by BillyJoe, July 09, 2009
It is sad that people turn to this stuff, otherwise there would be nowhere for opportunistic frauds such as Lavery, Browne, Van Fraud, Edwards, Gellar, etc. to peddle this garbage.

smilies/wink.gif
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