Friday, March 26, 2010

How Do I Protect My Gullible Grandma From Psychic Scams?

The Consumerist ( partner with the Consumer Reports) discloses what U.S. residents who have been victimized by Maria Duval scam artists. They can ask the Postal Service to file a "prohibitory order" against them. Follow their links to file complaints with your Attorney General, the FTC, and the Postal Inspector.The comments at the end of this short piece are also right on the mark.

Anyone who victimizes and targets the elderly should face prosecution. It's a real shame that Canadian authorities after many attempts to get them to do the same have fallen right on their royal Canadians.

The latest scam to reach my house on March 25, 2010 again used Canada Post Addressed Admail and it was probably mailed from Fort Erie, Ontario, right across the border from Buffalo. The return address was again the UPS Store in Woodbridge, Ontario. This licensee of the Canadian affiliated UPS Stores (formerly Mailboxes Etc.) refuses to do anything to stop these scammers. They have been renting the mailbox to this group since 2006. Nobody seems to care.

Monday, March 08, 2010

UPS Store refuses to divulge who is in Mailbox #100

After I received the second scam letter from DRC (Maria Duval) I called Erum Sher, one of the owners of the UPS store in Woodbridge, Ontario on March 8, 2010. I spoke to someone named Caitlyn who told me that they could not divulge the name of the people who own the mailbox. She asked me if "they had a phone number". What a bloody joke!!!

It is the store policy not to reveal who runs their mailboxes, even when the renters are scamming the public. I told her that I wanted to talk to Erum Sher about this, and she said that he didn't have a phone number, but if I gave her my phone number that I would hear back from him.

I gave her my e-mail address and am presently waiting for a reply from Mr. Sher. I'm not holding my breath.

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

UPS Store in Woodbridge, Ontario used by Maria Duval scammers

On March 8, and again on February 16, 2010 a direct mail piece arrived at my home address. It was from Destiny Research Center to get me to sign up for the Maria Duval Scam. It was personally addressed and contained my home address that these yahoos harvested from a list provider. The first mailing contained this Talisman, and the second one contained a picture. I haven't opened the envelope yet, because I will be taking it to the police station later today. 

I sent complaints to the RECOL.CA, the RCMP, the York Regional Police, Canada Post and some Members of Parliament and Queens Park.

It's obvious to me that the law has no interest in shutting these criminals down. They have operated out the same mailbox for about four years without any action by the authorities.

The mailer has been scanned in and you can view the entire piece including the envelopes and the Magic Talisman on my web site:

If you received one of the Magic Talisman mailers via Canada Post, and you feel that you have been victimized by this scam and you live in YORK REGION please call the York Regional Police at 866-876-5423. Tell them you want to report a mail fraud and mention Maria Duval.

If you live elsewhere and you feel you have been ripped off, save all of your material and file a complaint with your local police. Send us a copy of your complaint, and let us know what your local police said to you.

You could also file a complaint with RECOL.CA - see below for the link.

You should also file a complaint directly to the following:

Erum Sher, UPS franchisee of the location where the scam is taking place.
905-850-3945 fax

UPS Canadian operations and tell them you want to file a complaint about one of their franchisees:

MBE Canada Corporate Offices
505 Iroquois Shore Rd. Unit 4
Oakville, ON L6H 2R3
905-338-7491 fax

Please keep us posted by leaving comments.

Terry Polevoy

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Friday, March 31, 2006

Scam Alert: Misfortune-Telling - AARP Bulletin

Just before Christmas, self-described psychic Maria Duval sent a letter to John Jerzgarzewski of Syracuse, N.Y. Within 90 days, she predicted, he would win a jackpot of up to $15,000. All he had to do was specify how he wanted to acquire his riches—by winning a lottery or a bingo game or at a casino—and send $35 in the enclosed envelope. Duval would provide the winning numbers and days to play.

Jerzgarzewski selected "lottery," wrote a check to Duval and sent it to the address in Everett, Mass., which turned out to be a UPS store. With that mailing, he would join thousands of other Americans who get conned again and again, usually for a few dollars at a time.

It's the classic "sucker list" mail scam: "Once you have expressed interest in one particular scam," says Sarah Nathan of the Massachusetts Attorney General's Office, "you could be inundated with information on other scams. The main purpose of some scams is just to create a sucker's list that gets passed around among other scammers."

After sending his check for Duval's winning numbers, Jerzgarzewski was bombarded with more mail from the clairvoyant Duval—at least a dozen letters in two weeks, says his daughter, Frances Jerzgarzewski, who lives in San Francisco. Some letters predicted newfound improvements in health and vitality. Others told of impending riches. All of them asked for $35 or $40 in exchange for more specific, personalized details about Jerzgarzewski divined from tarot cards, astrology and other forms of fortunetelling.

"My father sent Maria Duval at least seven checks in one month, all for $35 or $40," says Frances, 61, who discovered the payments during a recent holiday visit. "She promised him health. She promised him wealth. And my father is desperate for both, so he kept sending another check every few days." One Duval prediction said the 91-year-old would soon get the job promotion he long wanted.

He was also bombarded with other mail, beginning just days after his first check to Duval was cashed, from other companies peddling products that would make Duval's prophecies come true—miracle health cures, precious gems available for a fraction of their real worth, even prayers answered with the purchase of magical pendants.

Many of these solicitations, authorities believe, came from the same source—a mail-order marketing firm variously calling itself the National Parapsychology Center, Direct Health Organization, Guardian Angel, BioScience Health and Beauty Center or one of about 20 other phony names—including "Maria Duval." The company operates in Europe, Australia and New Zealand and is believed to be based in Canada—its phone number has been disconnected—but it operates out of at least four addresses in the United States, all mail-collection rental stores or other mail-collection rental facilities.

Firms like the one that runs Maria Duval buy or compile mailing lists and often sell them to other scammers, much the way legitimate companies sell their customer lists to other firms. They make their pitches by mail or phone.

Nathan offers this advice, should you get solicitations from crystal-ball gazers or anyone offering a sure-fire trajectory to prosperity: "Rip up any mail with offers that sound too good to be true. Hang up on any phone calls that promise you miracle cures or predict your future. You can also contact your state attorney general's office."

Joe Corrado of the U.S. Postal Inspection Service, which is pursuing legal action against the Maria Duval firm, advises recipients of such solicitations to contact their local USPIS office.

To find yours, visit or check the Yellow Pages.

"Don't respond to these offers," says Corrado. "Let us know about it, because we have a database that tracks these mailings—and some constitute mail fraud."

Sid Kirchheimer is the author of Scam-Proof Your Life, published by AARP/Sterling Publishing.

Monday, March 20, 2006

Maria Duval scam continues in Smart Source Canada

And don't forget to ask for your Free Gifts and your famous Talisman.

Smart Source Canadian edition - April 8, 2006.

Don't send her any money when you send in all of your confidential information folks. These scammers, and their agents that help publicize their junk are the ones with no money problems.

It's you and your family that they are after, you just wait for a few weeks and you will be swamped with all sorts of golden opportunities to give them your hard-earned money.


  • File a complaint with RECOL.CA if you have been ripped off!

Wednesday, February 22, 2006

Secrets of the greatest Astrologers and Mediums

The scammers from Maria Duval are at it again. This time they've changed their disguise. They've got a SECRET and they can lead you to MONEY & LOVE. But, just in case you don't believe them, you can always file a complaint with the Competition Bureau, because the newspaper chains that accept these ads that are inside the Smart Source supplements that come with your weekend newspaper don't give a damn about this.

Their Revelation of the Greatest Secret to Happiness of All Time will lead you to a life, not of happiness, or good health, but it will be followed up by annoying e-mails, or direct mail campaigns that try to get you to spend money on their worthless crap.

Click here to view the latest advertisement that appeared in the Smart Source on February 18, 2006.

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: - 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

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 (, 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?


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


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.