Sunday, January 08, 2006

Maria Duval Scam continues in Canada

On January 7, 2006 papers across Canada delivered the good news that a "woman" clairvoyant could change their lives. Someone calling herself Maria Duval (aka Maria France) promised readers of the Smart Source flyer that she could help people FREE OF CHARGE.

Then again, on January 14, 2006 the same advertisement appeared in the Valassis owned Shop & Save supplement across Canada.

This is not just questionable advertising. I would put it at the top of the list of scam operations right here in Canada.

The letter below will be distributed widely because the companies involved just don't get it. They are all part of an eloborate scam that preys on poor people who have much to lose. It involves the people behind a clairvoyant who now goes by the name Maria Duval, but her? operators have also used the name Maria France. The scams go back many years and it has to stop now.

Why they came to Canada is no secret. This country has harboured some of the worst advertising scams and web sites in the world.

There are many more like the sites above. Why the government of Canada has not stepped in to shut these scam artists down is beyond me. Why our newspapers allow Smart Source to go on carying these scams is also unacceptable.

I am forwarding this to my MP, MPP, and to the RCMP for immediate response.


Click here to see the Maria Duval advertisement - .jpg


Here is my complaint.

Dear MBE and/or UPS Store #272:

I am very upset that your company would rent mailbox space to a company that advertised in Smart Source flyer that was delivered in many Canadian newspapers on January 7, 2006 and the Shop & Save flyer on January 14, 2006.

It is an infamous scam to harvest personal information from people to be used by the people in the company who placed the advertisement. The scam is all over the world and should have been noted easily by the staff of the UPS Store, Smart Source and Shop & Save.

While they claim that there is "nothing to pay, everything is FREE", I doubt that this is true.

Nothing is FREE in this world.

Don't you check on the credentials of the people who you rent mailboxes to?

They operate out of Box #100
14-3650 Langstaff Road
Woodbridge, ON
L4L 9A8

Here is the home web site for this scam:
http://www.mariaduval.com/ - You can see that these scammers have numerous sites in many languages.

Here are just a few links that you should read about the Maria Duval scam
operation.

Windsor, Ontario Scam Alert

"Maria Duval"

Recently, numerous Canadian police agencies have been receiving complaints of a mail scam being operated by a person named, "Maria Duval".

Ms. Duval claims to know the secret of a mysterious "luck-attracting" force called THE EGRIGOR OF FRIDAY THE 13th.

Ms. Duval claims that THE EGRIGOR OF FRIDAY THE 13th force has the power to heal sickness, find romance, bring about huge gambling successes, and fulfill one's life ambitions. In order to receive the powers of the EGRIGOR force, recipients of Ms. Duval's offer are directed to remit $39.00 to a Windsor address before the arrival of the next Friday the 13th.

Police investigation has revealed that "Maria Duval" is actually a 'front' used by a telemarketing firm based in the state of New York.

In fact, unbeknownst to the public, all the monies mailed to the Windsor address are immediately forwarded to the New York telemarketers. Indeed, it is questionable whether "Maria Duval" actually exists.

The Windsor Police Financial Crimes Unit believes that this is a scam operation, and discourages anyone from responding to its correspondence. We are constantly being barraged by endless scams - some are against the law, and some are not. Fraudsters are a very creative bunch. The "Maria Duval" scam is yet another reason why we must be extra vigilant in protecting our
hard-earned assets.

If you believe that you, or someone you know, is being targeted in a scam please contact the Financial Crimes Unit at 255-6700 Ext #4330.

Maria Duval scam - Consumer Online

Why are New Zealand banks accepting payments for a well-known scam? And why don't they take any notice of government warnings?

The Maria Duval scam is known worldwide. But, despite its high profile, New Zealand banks and credit card operators continue to profit from this con.

If you visit her website (www.mariaduval.com), you'll be told Maria Duval is a clairvoyant with an impeccable track record of predicting the future and finding missing people. In fact, Maria Duval is the front-name for a scam operating all over Europe, North America, Australia and New Zealand. Typically, you'll get an unexpected letter from Duval offering lucky charms, personal advice or numbers to back on Lotto.

The letters will often tell you that Duval has personally chosen you because she knows you're going through a rough patch. She says you deserve a lucky break and for $80 you can have one: payment by cheque or credit card please.

Maria Duval scams have been investigated by the Ontario police, US Postal Service, agencies in five Australian states, the New York Better Business Bureau, and in Europe. In New Zealand, Maria Duval is listed as a scam on the Ministry of Consumer Affairs' Scamwatch website. It's also listed on our A to Z of scams.

But, despite all this, banks are allowing Duval's operation to accept New Zealand cheques (made out to "Maria Duval") and Visa and Mastercard payments. We asked why.

The official response Visa International's country manager for New Zealand, Iain Jamieson, said Visa had never heard of Maria Duval. After Consumer explained how the scam worked, Jamieson said he would try to find which bank is serving her and stop her using Visa.

"We are actively looking at it. We're doing all we can with the banks to find her and as soon as we find out where she is we'll put her on the blacklist."

Mastercard referred our enquiry to an Auckland public relations company. It told us Mastercard doesn't decide which businesses it supports.

"We have no way of identifying whether or not Duval is accepting Mastercard payments, as it is up to the discretion of the acquiring banks." Mastercard issues a list of fraudulent merchants, but it doesn't look at Scamwatch.

Nor do the banks we asked. BNZ's fraud spokesman Ron Watt says he has never heard of the Duval scam, while National Bank spokeswoman Cynthia Brophy says her bank uses information provided by Visa and Mastercard and runs its own fraud unit.

"We don't particularly look at Scamwatch but we have added it since you mentioned it. I'd have to say our own scamwatch facilities for our financial fraud team are pretty sophisticated."

Westpac spokesman Paul Gregory says anyone who has paid by credit card and believes they have been ripped-off should contact their bank. Westpac will refund your payment less $50, provided you didn't do anything negligent like tell someone your PIN.

Despite Duval's notoriety, no one we spoke to had blacklisted her.

Ministry of Consumer Affairs spokeswoman Pamela Rogers says the Ministry doesn't tell banks and credit card operators when it updates the Scamwatch lists. The information is provided on the Scamwatch website.

Our view

No bank or credit card operator should be profiting from the Maria Duval scam, or from any other scam listed on Scamwatch or Consumer Online's scam pages. The Duval scam is so well-known all banks and credit card companies should have blacklisted her by now.

Banks and credit card companies should be regularly checking Scamwatch. At the same time, we believe the Ministry of Consumer Affairs should tell these institutions about Scamwatch updates.

Banks should refund ripped-off customers in full. Their fraud units could easily identify Maria Duval as a fake if they wanted to. If you've sent money to Maria Duval, contact us and your bank.

Story by Martin Craig.


Not clairvoyant enough?


29-Jun-2005

Self-styled clairvoyant Maria Duval's magic seems to have deserted her. Her company has pulled all its New Zealand advertising, following a complaint we made to the Advertising Standards Complaints Board (ASCB).

Who or what is Maria Duval?

Maria Duval is the front-name for a scam operating all over Europe, North America, Australia and New Zealand. It is listed as a scam on the Ministry of Consumer Affairs Scamwatch website and our own A-Z directory of scams.

We also published a news item on Maria Duval in February 2005, questioning why banks and credit card companies continue to profit from this scam.

The Ontario police, US Postal service, agencies in five Australian states, the New York Better Business Bureau and consumer agencies in Europe have all investigated or warned against the Maria Duval scam.

We complained to the ASCB after Sunday News and Timaru Herald published large advertisements promoting Maria Duval.

The ads promised to fulfil seven wishes for no charge - "Nothing to pay, everything is FREE!" it claimed. Among other things, you could expect to "win the lottery jackpot within a fortnight", successfully bet on the horses, and "solve [your] financial problems once and for all".

The underlying reason behind the ads was to build a list of potential victims, who would then be hounded to pay for dubious psychic services.

We have heard from several New Zealanders who have paid large sums to the Maria Duval scam, including some who have gone into debt. New Zealand consumers aren't the only victims - Madame Duval has peddled her deception all over Europe, Australia and North America.

The ASCB's decision

The ASCB upheld our complaint. It stated that the "Complaints Board was unanimously of the view that the advertisement would create unrealistic expectations of life-changing benefits," and therefore "there was no doubt it would be likely to mislead and abuse the trust of the consumer." Click here to read the full text of the ASCB's decision.

Following our complaint, Swiss ad agency Infogest suspended all Maria Duval print ads in New Zealand.

WRGB TV exposes the scam

Psychic Maria Duval 11/21/03

They claim to see the world as no one else sees it, to have the ability to predict the future, and to read people's minds. But what if you could have all the powers a psychic has? That's what psychic Maria Duval promised Bonnie and Donald Botsford. "Life has not really been kind to you so far.

You deserve things to be different," Donald read from the letter they received. Bonnie read one of her favorite passages: "People will not be able to lie to you. You will feel what the initiated call the third eye."

That is, if you fork over ten bucks - and send it to Morristown, New Jersey with the "Confidential Letter of Agreement." You're supposed to get three telepathic actions on your behalf - plus Maria Duval's book "Seven Secrets of the Initiated." The Botsfords didn't go for it - but felt they had to do something. "I'm tired of getting garbage like this and people getting ripped off," Donald said.

So they called us. "My thought is of elderly people and depressed people," Bonnie told us. "It almost scares you into thinking that if I don't do this, something bad's going to happen to me." We found out that Maria Duval has scared a lot of people all over the world.

The Rip Off

Report web site tells their stories. We can't share some of the expletives one person used to describe Duval. But he did say he thought she'd end up in hell. The Better Business Bureau out of New York City is investigating her too. The Botsfords are sending this letter to the U.S. Postal Service. Fraud inspector Tom Amati told us they should - because he knows these scams well.

We spoke to him via satellite from Buffalo. "They usually expect to get between five and ten percent response, which is extremely lucrative," Amati told us. He said throw letters like this out - because once you respond, it's too late. "You are literally on a sucker list and that sucker list goes around to various associates," Amati warned.

Bonnie and Donald Botsford don't want to see that happen to anybody. But, they would like to see something happen to Maria Duval and her associates. "Find them and arrest them - whoever's pulling this off," Donald said.

Among the Maria Duval operation's many addresses, is a Canadian one. And, Postal Inspector
Tom Amati told us scam artists set up shop there because U.S. law enforcement has a hard time going after them there. But he said, Buffalo saw a similar psychic mail scam out of Canada years ago, and the postal service helped shut it down.

Danish Publisher to Put an End to Fortune-teller Fraud

Mailbox Media, publisher of a Danish mail order catalogue distributed nationwide, has now assured the Danish Consumer Ombudsman that no more ads promoting the "famous" fortune-teller Marie France will appear from the catalogue.

Mailbox Media, publisher of a Danish mail order catalogue distributed nationwide, has now assured the Danish Consumer Ombudsman that no more ads promoting the "famous" fortune-teller Marie France will appear from the catalogue.

"Marie France", also known as "Maria Duval", offers consumers free and personal counsel in the form of prophecies and good advice.

Misleading advertising for "Marie France" in the above catalogue from February 2005 prompted the Danish Consumer Ombudsman to contact Mailbox Media. Pursuant to section 16 of the Danish Marketing Practises Act, the company has now signed an undertaking, preventing future promotion of the clairvoyant.

"Marie France", or "Maria Duval", is frequently advertised in local newspapers or mail order catalogues, attracting the reader's attention to offers that include free and personal advice given by the "famous" clairvoyant. The advertiser is usually based abroad, ie in Switzerland, Germany or France.

The Danish Consumer Ombudsman holds that the ads are misleading and conflict with the principles of good marketing practises, cf. section 1 and 2(1) of the Danish Marketing Practises Act. The ads are designed to convey the impression that the "famous" clairvoyant will provide consumers with personal advice in the form of prophecies. The services thus provided, however, are neither free nor personal; moreover, there is no "Marie France" or "Maria Duval" using her clairvoyant talents to help consumers.

Joint action against commercial fortune-tellers has previously been taken under the auspices of ICPEN-Europe (International Consumer Protection Enforcement Network).

If you have any queries, please contact:

Birgitte Wested

Office of the Danish Consumer Ombudsman

Email: bw@fs.dk

Publiceret: 19-05-2005

Scam Clairvoyant's Final Vision

24 September 2002

There is one less scam artist for consumers to look out for thanks to the efforts of consumer protection agencies in WA, Victoria and Queensland.

Maria Duval a supposed clairvoyant is out of business and has ceased trading following an enforceable undertaking being issued.

Maria Duval and Marie France, both of which are assumed names, are connected to a company called Health Tips Limited whose lawyers have advised Consumer Protection that the business was ceasing to trade in Australia.

"We are very pleased to have this charlatan out of circulation as vulnerable people seeking comfort and reassurance were not only being ripped off financially, they were receiving false hopes as well.

In addition to the action taken against Maria Duval, fellow clairvoyant Marie France was served with three warrants that resulted in thousands of dollars being returned to duped consumers.

Our online scam reporting and tracking system WA ScamNet has logged over 2,000 scams received by consumers since its inception in April this year.

We are very grateful to the people of WA for their help in getting vital information on scams to us so quickly, enabling us to profile offenders and issue warnings to the community", Western Australia's Consumer Protection Commissioner Patrick Walker said.

8 Comments:

At 8:33 PM, Blogger fran jerzgarzewski said...

My father aged 91 is reading her scam promises and believes her nonsense so I contacted AARP who will be doing a scam alert about her. Don't be so stupid as to believe her....she is getting rich on your $35 checks.

 
At 3:55 PM, Blogger Untimely said...

This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

 
At 2:52 PM, Blogger rhinoswife said...

smart source, toronto canada, dated jan.28, 2006 has a free ad in it for maria duval

 
At 8:26 AM, Blogger Truthseeker said...

I have been warning about Maria Duval, and all the other names used by direct-mail companies, since 1999. Please do what you can to close Canada to the crooks.
www.astrocat.exactpages.com
and
www.astrocat.proboards15.com

Kevin Harrington.

 
At 1:58 PM, Blogger Terry said...

maria duval now using address 27 Norwood Street #402, Everett, MA 02149-2709
terry

 
At 1:08 AM, Blogger Tonyiloveamerica said...

Now Maria Duval has a friend named Nicos Daskalos who visited India, become "spiritually aware" from a Monk who gave him 7 parchments and told him to "help the unfortunate souls of this world" for only $1 a parchment plus $3 shipping, (of course!) So, for just a measly $10 you can achieve wealth beyond your wildest dreams! Hey Maria, if you want to help me, just send me the winning lotto #'s for free, along with the EXACT date that I can play and win Oh, say, $100,000 million? I'll fly to India and personally kiss that Monk right on his dried up wrinkley lips and throw him a few bucks to feed the poor of his choice some healthy BROWN RICE, Yum!.......The truth be known, I almost fell for this SCAM myself because of the way the 16 page letter "Maria" sent me was so well written and I also figured that $10 was affordable (hell, I've spent more on scratch off's!)Although it's nice to believe that there are GOOD people in this world, even psychic ones, who want you to "get rich quick", nothing in life is free (or that good to be true for only $10 bucks!) But the real reason I am responding in this blog is that if everyone sent "Maria" $10 and "Maria" turns out to be part of a terrorist cell I'd be helping to fund my own and my daughter's own demise instead of my family's healthy future. Therefore, I want to urge people who receive a "Maria" letter to print out the address of where it came from, in my case, 27 Norwood St.#402, Everett, MA 02149-2709 so a public record of where these scam operations are based out of and can be investigated for the safety and security of the honest Americans who work hard for every dollar they earn. There are a lot of "niave suckers" who want to believe in these scams and they need to be protected from deceit as well, like the desperate, the poor and the elderly. I received my "Maria" letter Feb. 13th, 2006. Catch these SOB's! TonyTony USAF Ret

 
At 10:15 PM, Blogger rwhitefeather said...

I have a 10 page letter which tells about 7 Parchments. Something called Kaliyuga predicted centuries ago. I page for confidential letter of agreement. For $10 I can receive them left to me by Nicos Daskalos. dated Feb. 3, 2006
Address: 27 Norwood Street #402
Everett, MA 0214g-2709

 
At 10:29 PM, Blogger Terry Polevoy said...

Please file complaints with the police where you live and let us know how they treated you.

 

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