The Marks family of Fort Lauderdale Florida, 60-year-old Rose Marks, her sons Ricky and Michael Marks, daughter Rosie Marks, daughters-in-law Nancy Marks and Cynthia Miller, son-in-law Donnie Eli, and granddaughter Vivian Marks, along with a couple of other people have been charged with fraud.
Their crime? Preying on the beliefs and grief of people by posing as psychics and encouraging their victims to give them money with the promise of returning it, and of course, keeping it. Their extravagant lifestyle, that included Bentleys and Ferraris, led neighbours to believe they were dealing drugs. The truth is even more sinister.
The Marks family is accused of offering psychic readings that eventually led to outright fraud, asking clients to offer thousands, or even millions of dollars that would be used for prayer ceremonies to remove evil curses.
According to court documents, author Jude Deveraux paid the Marks’ $20 million spread over a number of years.
Deveraux, like many of the Markses clients, was in the throes of a deep personal crisis — her 8-year-old son had just died in a motorcycle accident. The Marks family allegedly discouraged Deveraux from speaking with a grief counselor, while saying her son was trapped “somewhere between heaven and hell” and would only rest in peace if the author kept paying.
Part of the problem is that setting yourself up as a psychic is not an illegal enterprise.
The family’s attorneys say the Markses engaged in a First Amendment-protected business that was both legitimate and properly licensed. Fred Schwartz, who represents Rose Marks, said those clients who prosecutors classify as victims were initially reluctant to press charges, and only opted to do so under pressure from federal agents.
“They had to go back to some of them three or four times to persuade them that they’re victims,” Schwartz said. “That seems like overreaching by the agents.”
Defense attorneys say the Markses counseled their clients at all hours of the night, at times preventing clients from turning to drugs or suicide in their despair.
I’m struggling here. There is no way that this sort of psychic boondoggle is anything but a
fraud. We don’t have the “First Amendment” here in Canada, but ‘freedom of speech’ is an important part of our legal system. However, both countries have laws around making claims that are totally unfounded in order to extract money from people’s wallets. There has never been any reasonably irrefutable evidence of psychic powers. Every one who has ever made such claims and been examined has turned out to be either mistaken or a fraud. There should be no need to prove that the Markses obtained the money by any other means than claiming to be psychic to charge them with fraud.
The amount of money the Markses bilked out of people such as Jude Devereaux is not the issue. I don’t know her finances, but as a best selling author, the loss of $20,000,000 would likely be less of a hardship than a pensioner loosing $2,000. This happens much more frequently and no[-one is ever charged.
I have had a lot of discussions with people who visit the local ‘tea leaf lady’, and many claim it is all in fun. But, and there always is that ‘but’, she knew something that she couldn’t have known. The Markses are just the local tea lady on a grand scale: Frauds of a feather. The only difference is the size of the paycheck.