If you watched TV in the late 90’s/early 2000s, it would’ve been impossible to miss a Miss Cleo psychic commercial. Ask anyone who’s seen her commercials, and they can tell you how familiar they are with her trademark accent.
It’s interesting to me that before the FBI eventually shut down the fraudulent business, a junior Court TV reporter discovered the scam first. When Miss Cleo was at the peak of her psychic career, Matt Bean was an enthusiastic rookie reporter fresh out of journalism school.
Bean was suspicious of the business from day one and decided to investigate it on his own. During his investigation, he received a tip that Miss Cleo was going off a prewritten script during the readings, and there was nothing genuine about the psychic advice she was charging for.
Bean was able to get his hands on a script and called the network to get an over-the-phone reading. He recorded his reading, which, low and behold, matched the script he had 100 percent word-for-word. This test confirmed that the psychic network was a scam, as he had believed.
“That entire company and all the promises they were advertising were built on lies. It became apparent that she was the front person for this scandalous organization that was trying to harvest money from people who were very gullible or who were in a bad situation,” Bean said.
Who’s Behind The Successful Psychic Mega-Network?
A wealthy Florida businessman named Steven Feder and his cousin, Peter Stolz built the fraudulent network from the ground up. They discovered Miss Cleo, real name Youree Cleomili, and hired hoping to turn the network into a multi-million-dollar business. Lucky for them, that’s exactly what happened.
The FBI launched their investigation into the company after Bean’s discovery, and they shut it down in 2002.
Bean sat down with Miss Cleo months after the network was exposed for an interview, asking her about her role in the network and the huge scam.
“She was just very gracious,” Bean recalls. “Her dogs were a big love for her, and she was just trying to focus on living her life. She had sort of a holistic outlook on the world and she did believe she had a gift.”
Despite being exposed as a fraud, Cleomili was still giving private readings in the final years of her life. She would charge her clients up to $100 to speak to them in person or by phone. She died of colon cancer in July of this year at age 53.