For a good laugh but also solid content check out the ABC I Team’s probe of a couple of psychic shops in Oakland.
The laugh comes when reporter Dan Noyes confronts shop owner Peter George with an undercover recording of George and a woman in the shop trying to hit up a decoy customer for $5,000 for a life-size candle that, when burned, will rid the customer’s husband of cancer.
When the shop owner froths at the mouth and threatens Noyes, the reporter has a smirk and look on his face like he has been through this a thousand times. (Think Mike Wallace of 60 Minutes in his early years…) The shop owner, who dared Noyes to come back inside his Dimond District parlor, later apologizes in the I-Team blog section.
It might be tempting to dismiss Noyes for his aging pretty-boy looks, or his arrogance or his smugness, but he and his I-Team do very good work. He has been the only Bay Area media person staying on top of the latest wave of psychic scams. In case you haven’t noticed, Oakland/Berkeley are home to a growing number of psychics. One disturbing aspect of these shops is the lack of local and state regulations. We license dog groomers but no background checks or requirements for fortune tellers.
DA’s investigator Kathy Boyovich, who I once assisted, makes the point in the I-Team video that it’s not just the elderly or mentally-impaired who fall prey to con artists. ( I chronicled my work with her in a piece for http://www.theoakbook.com/ http://www.theoakbook.com/MoreDetail.aspx?Aid=1675&CatId=108 ) The I-Team found and interviewed a victim in the South Bay taken for $130,000.
When The Chronicle ran a recent article about an elderly victim, the comments section posters made fun of her for being “stupid” or a “sucker.” Cons don’t just hurt people in the wallet, they hurt their pscyhe and dignity. As a private investigator I have looked into the sad eyes of more than a few victims.
If you look around Oakland you see psychic shops all over the place, on Grand and Piedmont avenues, down on Frutivale avenue, a new one on Park Boulevard, etc. It would be a cheap shot to suggest that all these enterprises have criminal intent but I would rather see other businesses flourish around town. Let’s look out for each other.