Coverart for item
The Resource A deal with the devil : the dark and twisted true story of one of the biggest cons in history, Blake Ellis and Melanie Hicken

A deal with the devil : the dark and twisted true story of one of the biggest cons in history, Blake Ellis and Melanie Hicken

Label
A deal with the devil : the dark and twisted true story of one of the biggest cons in history
Title
A deal with the devil
Title remainder
the dark and twisted true story of one of the biggest cons in history
Statement of responsibility
Blake Ellis and Melanie Hicken
Creator
Contributor
Author
Subject
Genre
Language
eng
Summary
"In this spellbinding true story, a pair of award-winning CNN investigative journalists track down the mysterious French psychic at the center of an international scam targeting the elderly and emotionally vulnerable, resulting in an expose of one of the longest running cons in history. While investigating financial crimes for CNN Money, Blake Ellis and Melanie Hicken were intrigued by reports that elderly Americans were giving away thousands of dollars to mail-in schemes. With a little digging, they soon discovered a shocking true story. Victims received personalized letters from a woman who, claiming amazing psychic powers, convinced them to send money in return for riches, good health, and good fortune. The predatory scam has continued unabated for decades, raking in more than $200 million in the United States and Canada alone--with investigators from all over the world unable to stop it. And at the center of it all--an elusive French psychic named Maria Duval. Based on the five-part series that originally appeared on CNN's website in 2016 and was seen by more than three million people, A Deal with the Devil picks up where the series left off as Ellis and Hicken reveal more bizarre characters, follow new leads, close in on Maria Duval, and connect the dots in an edge-of-your-seat journey across the US to England and France. A Deal with the Devil is a fascinating, thrilling search for the truth and is long-form investigative journalism at its best"--
Pace
Writing style
Review
  • In this meandering true crime account, journalists Ellis and Hicken investigate a decades-long international mail scam that bilked over $200 million from its 1.4 million victims in the United States alone. The mastermind behind it all was an elusive, self-proclaimed psychic who went by the alias Maria Duval and has never been apprehended. The authors, who first wrote about Duval for CNN in 2016, detail the methodology of her scam, which dates to at least the 1980s and involved mailing personalized letters to recipients, whose names and addresses Duval purchased from data brokers. Their investigation leads to a bizarre cast of characters, including a gun-toting U.S. postal inspector hell-bent on shutting down the scam, an alien-worshipping businessman whose companies distributed Duval’s mass mailings, and a handful of zany psychics. The book gets sidetracked by frustrating dead ends in the inquiry—a chapter devoted entirely to a psychic named Patrick Guerin, for example, ends abruptly when the journalists receive no reply to one brief e-mail. While the authors never conclusively identify the person behind the Maria Duval alias, they provide an entertaining exposé of an epic episode from the chronicles of consumer fraud. (July)
			 --Staff (Reviewed 04/30/2018) (Publishers Weekly, vol 265, issue 18, p)
  • On the trail of a French psychic who ran an international scam that preyed on some of society's most vulnerable people. In their first book, Ellis and Hicken, investigative journalists with CNN, build on their five-part online piece that first appeared on the CNN website in 2016, and the narrative morphs into a meandering tale full of dead ends, frustrations, and irrelevant details. The authors doggedly pursue the story of a long-lasting con targeting the lonely and credulous with promises of riches and friendship. Their investigation involves an unwieldy cast of characters, which the authors helpfully identify at the beginning of the book. However, many readers will still struggle to follow this Byzantine journey to uncover more information about Maria Duval, a self-proclaimed psychic whose name is on the millions of letters sent out to extract money from the gullible. The scam is reported to have affected more than 1.6 million victims in the United States and Canada, along with uncounted more across the globe. Ellis and Hicken provide a clear picture of the mindset of victims, showing why they were taken in by the scam and how their lives and those of their families were affected. These poor men and women, often demented and elderly (a demographic that loses "nearly $3 billion to fraud and other financial abuses every year") and often mired in poverty, believed that by mailing money to Duval, they could change their lives for the better and become fantastically wealthy. The authors' account of their attempts to track down Duval is less engaging. Their search for Duval is a wild-goose chase made difficult by their language limitations, by quirky email leads that do not pan out, and by unanswered correspondence and unreturned phone calls. Their uncertainties, questions, and disappointments figure largely in their discursive narrative. It's a fascinating story of widespread malfeasance, but readers hoping for crisp, incisive reporting will be disappointed. (Kirkus Reviews, June 15, 2018)
Assigning source
Provided by publisher
http://library.link/vocab/ext/novelist/bookUI
10685256
Cataloging source
DLC
http://library.link/vocab/creatorName
Ellis, Blake
Dewey number
364.16/3
Index
no index present
LC call number
HV6691
LC item number
.E445 2018
Literary form
non fiction
Nature of contents
bibliography
http://library.link/vocab/relatedWorkOrContributorName
Hicken, Melanie
http://library.link/vocab/resourcePreferred
True
http://library.link/vocab/subjectName
  • Swindlers and swindling
  • Victims of crimes
  • Crime
Target audience
adult
http://bibfra.me/vocab/lite/titleRemainder
the dark and twisted true story of one of the biggest cons in history
Label
A deal with the devil : the dark and twisted true story of one of the biggest cons in history, Blake Ellis and Melanie Hicken
Instantiates
Publication
Copyright
Note
Includes bibliographical references (pages 284-290)
Bibliography note
Includes bibliographical references (pages 284-290)
Carrier category
volume
Carrier category code
  • nc
Carrier MARC source
rdacarrier
Content category
text
Content type code
  • txt
Content type MARC source
rdacontent
Contents
The journalists -- The promises -- The scam -- The victims -- The address -- The mysterious psychic -- The psychic sidekick -- The sightings -- The dentist's wife -- The investigators -- The business web -- The Sparks connection -- The whistleblower -- The "mailing genius" -- The bizarre businessman -- The copywriter -- The nucleus -- The windfall -- The trip -- The dusty archives -- The psychic no one sees -- The house -- The sister -- The pot of jelly -- The lover -- The son -- The attorney -- The deal -- The myth -- The responses -- The other psychics -- The checks -- The dark and the strange -- The Romanians -- The childhood friend -- The return to sanity -- The bizarre businessman revisited -- The fading myth -- The irony -- Afterword
Dimensions
24 cm
Edition
First Atria Boks hardcover edition.
Extent
xiii, 290 pages
Isbn
9781501163845
Lccn
2017055494
Media category
unmediated
Media MARC source
rdamedia
Media type code
  • n
System control number
  • on1011106742
  • (OCoLC)1011106742
Label
A deal with the devil : the dark and twisted true story of one of the biggest cons in history, Blake Ellis and Melanie Hicken
Publication
Copyright
Note
Includes bibliographical references (pages 284-290)
Bibliography note
Includes bibliographical references (pages 284-290)
Carrier category
volume
Carrier category code
  • nc
Carrier MARC source
rdacarrier
Content category
text
Content type code
  • txt
Content type MARC source
rdacontent
Contents
The journalists -- The promises -- The scam -- The victims -- The address -- The mysterious psychic -- The psychic sidekick -- The sightings -- The dentist's wife -- The investigators -- The business web -- The Sparks connection -- The whistleblower -- The "mailing genius" -- The bizarre businessman -- The copywriter -- The nucleus -- The windfall -- The trip -- The dusty archives -- The psychic no one sees -- The house -- The sister -- The pot of jelly -- The lover -- The son -- The attorney -- The deal -- The myth -- The responses -- The other psychics -- The checks -- The dark and the strange -- The Romanians -- The childhood friend -- The return to sanity -- The bizarre businessman revisited -- The fading myth -- The irony -- Afterword
Dimensions
24 cm
Edition
First Atria Boks hardcover edition.
Extent
xiii, 290 pages
Isbn
9781501163845
Lccn
2017055494
Media category
unmediated
Media MARC source
rdamedia
Media type code
  • n
System control number
  • on1011106742
  • (OCoLC)1011106742

Library Locations

    • Williamsburg LibraryBorrow it
      515 Scotland Street, Williamsburg, VA, 23185, US
      37.377573 -76.770995
Processing Feedback ...