Sylvia Browne Scam
The Sylvia Browne Scam is one of the most successful psychic scams of all time.
Sylvia Browne runs a physic reading business and has made millions preying on average, everyday, hardworking people.
Callers can get a "reading" from Sylvia for only $700 by phone or $750 in person, according to her Web site (2003). Does that sound like proper commercial activity for someone who has no medical license, just a master's degree in English literature?
The Sylvia Browne scam includes "diagnosing" health problems, communicating with the dead, and claiming to have proven there is an afterlife.
Her recent books include Contacting Your Spirit Guide and Past Lives, Future Healing: A Psychic Reveals the Secrets to Good Health and Great Relationships.
For several years, she has been popularized by TV talk-show hosts Montel Williams and Larry King. Williams--who has hosted Sylvia more than seventy times since 1995--will have absolutely no part of a skeptical perspective. Larry King has included skeptics as guests on two of her three recent appearances during the past three years. But neither Williams nor King has shown the slightest interest in checking out her monumental claims.
As far as I know, neither is interested in whether Sylvia's health advice causes people to delay appropriate treatment or to undergo needless tests to look for nonexistent problems that Sylvia "sees."
In order to debunk popular scams such as the Sylvia Browne Scam, James Randi, offers "a one-million-dollar prize to anyone who can show, under proper observing conditions, evidence of any paranormal, supernatural, or occult power." All tests are designed with the participation and approval of the applicant.
In most cases, the applicant will be asked to perform a relatively simple preliminary test of the claim, which if successful will be followed by the formal test. Preliminary tests are usually conducted by associates of the JREF at the site where the applicant lives. Upon success in the preliminary testing process, the "applicant" becomes a "claimant." So far, no one has ever passed the preliminary tests.
James Randi is a magician and author of numerous works skeptical of paranormal claims.
While on television, Sylvia Browne has been asked on three separate occasions to take the James Randi Challenge. On all these occasions Sylvia Browne has accepted. Larry king agreed to set up the meeting with Randi, all Browne had to do was to contact him. She failed to do so.
When asked why she did not follow up on her commitment she claimed that Randi did not have the money to pay her if she was successful in passing The Randi challenge. As a result she would not partake in challenge.
The Sylvia Browne Scam Continued...
Back to Our Scandal Archives