Psychic Network Forgives Debts in 5 StatesIn a settlement with the attorneys general of five states, operators of the Psychic Readers Network, formerly marketed by late-night DRTV diva Miss Cleo, will forgive $22.4 million in outstanding debt.
Access Resource Services Inc., Fort Lauderdale, FL, also agreed to cease marketing 900-number services in the five states and will pay investigation costs. The company will cease efforts to collect bills from consumers in Connecticut, Indiana, Kansas, Pennsylvania and Wisconsin.
In Wisconsin alone, Access Resource Services gave up $11.4 million in uncollected but disputed claims. Unpaid-bill totals in the other states ranged from $1.9 million to $3.6 million.
The five states filed civil complaints against Access Resource Services in 2001. They charged the company with misleading consumers into believing they would receive a free "psychic reading" when they called a pay-per-minute hotline, allowing calls by minors, charging for time spent on hold and trying to collect bills from consumers who never called but had phone numbers whose previous owners had outstanding charges.
The Psychic Readers Network has been banned from many states and is facing charges from the Federal Trade Commission, and its executives pleaded guilty to criminal charges and accepted probation in Missouri. Miss Cleo herself, whose real name is Youree Harris, faces charges in Florida.