Who is behind one of the biggest scams in history? Maria Duval? (scams)
Who is behind one of the biggest scams in history? Maria Duval?
Who is behind one of the biggest scams in history?
By Blake Ellis and Melanie Hicken
It's one of the world's longest-running cons. Hundreds of millions of dollars stolen from some of the world's most vulnerable people -- the sick, the elderly and the poor -- who all thought they had found a savior in a mysterious woman named Maria Duval.
It has claimed more than 60 times the number of victims of Madoff's Ponzi scheme. With millions of people affected from the United States to Japan, federal investigators say it would be hard to find another case of consumer fraud that has hurt more people.
Since the alleged mail fraud started around 20 years ago, a laundry list of government agencies across the globe -- including the U.S. Department of Justice, British authorities, Canadian fraud investigators and Australian consumer protection officials -- have attempted to put an end to the scheme.
But somehow, it has raged on for decades.
It all centers around a mysterious French psychic named Maria Duval. In letters, interviews and Internet videos seen around the globe, Duval says she has had visions of the world exploding and humans living in space. She claims to have successfully predicted election results, forecast winning lottery numbers and helped police investigate crimes. She says she even found the missing dog of movie star Brigitte Bardot.
And millions of people have been convinced by her "personalized" letters that she can help them, too.
In what appear to be handwritten notes signed by Duval, she tells them they could win the lottery, recover from ailments or avoid terrible misfortune. All they need to do is pay a small sum -- often around $40 -- to receive her guidance, lucky numbers and special talismans like a Five Forces Stone or a Vibratory Crystal.
One of Duval's letters described her assistant's journey to a remote village in Paraguay to find this special crystal.
While many recipients would simply dismiss these letters, the scheme's massive success stems from its ability to take advantage of emotionally and financially vulnerable people. Many of its victims are elderly, often suffering from dementia or Alzheimer's. Others are lonely or depressed and are touched that someone is thinking of them.
"Not only was my poor mother quickly losing her mind due to Alzheimer's disease, she was lonely, bored, wanting to be wealthy and well," said Chrissie Stevens of her late mother Doreen Robinson, who fell prey to this scheme.
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As her health and mental capacities diminished, Robinson sent more and more money to Duval -- sometimes as often as twice a day -- eventually adding up to more than $2,400 in a single year. (Other victims have lost even more. Click here to read their stories.)
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- Who is behind one of the biggest scams in history? Maria Duval? - bibleprobe, 02.25.2016 (scams)