When Bryan James visited a psychic named April Lee, he never suspected that she would rip him off so badly. “I never thought I would be somebody that would be susceptible to seeing a psychic,” he told ABC News’20/20 in an interview.
“I was very vulnerable at the time. And I wanted to find the answers.” James was hoping to get relationship and career advice. As a struggling actor, he had a lot of questions he wanted advice on.
Shortly after speaking with the psychic, she managed to make him believe he was cursed and that only she could remove the curse from his life so that he could go on to be successful. Of course, she wanted to charge a hefty amount for this “service.”
“She had told me that there was a problem, but that she knew how to fix it,” James recalls. “About a month after meeting her, she asked for about $30,000. She said that it was to go back in time to fix the curse and that I would get the money back.”
Of course, James never received his money back and was instead taken advantage of repeatedly. Over two years, he ended up paying the fraudulent psychic over $900,000 before he realized she was scamming him.
When he learned he wasn’t getting anywhere with her, he decided to ask the police for help. However, the local police (Los Angeles Police Department) didn’t want anything to do with his complaint. They told him his case was more civil versus criminal and that they couldn’t help him.
James Decided He Needed To Take Matters Into His Own Hands
After hearing that, James decided that he needed to take it upon himself to get this wrong righted. He hired a private investigator named Bob Nygaard because he specializes in cases like James’. Cases where people are scammed out of thousands of dollars (or property) by fake and fraudulent psychics.
“These people, they financially exploit somebody under the guise of offering them assistance,” said Nygaard. Nygaard has helped many other customers like James get some, if not all, of their money back from fraudulent psychics in his years as a private investigator.
“It’s not about psychic ability,” he says. “It’s about simple theft, and it’s about applying the law to theft.” Nygaard is all too familiar with the fact that police departments turn people away when they hear that their case has to do with psychic fraud.
That’s why he decided to start working in that field and helping the customers that need him the most. He spends a lot of time finding the scamming psychics and catching them red-handed before turning them over to law enforcement with proof of what they did wrong.
“What I do is I bring it to them wrapped in a bow. I say, ‘Listen, when this person first came in, you told them it was a civil matter,” he says. “You know what? I know differently. It’s a criminal matter.”
Nygaard states that ever since he started helping psychic scam victims, he has recovered over $2 million worth of cash and property back to them.
Nygaard Has Helped Numerous Victims Get Their Money Back
“Bob Nygaard is an American hero,” says Debra Saalfield, a different customer. She also decided to hire him after being scammed out of thousands of dollars by a psychic named Sylvia Mitchell, who we’ve previously written about here for scamming others.
Nygaard tracked Mitchell down in Connecticut, and police arrested her shortly after. In court, the defense team offered to return the whole $27,000 that she stole from Saalfield back to her, but Saalfield refused the offer.
She insisted that they go to trial because if she didn’t testify, other victims wouldn’t be able to get their money back. “Other victims have lost far more than I have,” she said.
“They’ve lost not only their money. They’ve lost their jobs. They have lost their integrity and their self-esteem. That’s not easy to get back.”
“These cases are difficult to prove, and a jury wonders how this can fool anyone,” says Dave Aronberg, state attorney for Florida.
Fortunately for Saalfield, the jury did believe her case. They sentenced Mitchell to anywhere from 2 to 15 years in prison, and the judge ordered her to pay back the money she took from her.
James’ case involved a lot more lost money than Saalfield’s case. He even gave the scamming psychic a large chunk of money at one point- $511,000- so that she could continue the process of removing his supposed curse.
Even though the police were less than helpful to James, Nygaard still required their assistance to bust Lee. Luck was on his side when he went to the Santa Clara County District Attorney’s office to speak with them. At this time, Nygaard met Dennis Brookins, the Office Investigator for Santa Clara County, D.A.
Nygaard Convinced Los Angeles Police Department To Assist
Once Nygaard filled Brookins in on what was going on, Brookins became the operation leader that would eventually arrest Lee.
“My job as a criminal investigator is to help victims,” said Brookins. “My job is not to turn victims away.” With Brookins on their side, Nygaard and James began to work on a plan that would catch Lee in the act of scamming James.
They worked out a plan which involved James calling Lee and telling her that he had the money she had requested, but that the only way he could give it to her was if she came down to San Jose, California, to pick it up.
“I came up with a plan that his mother was going to sell a piece of property,” says Brookins. “James would obtain the money because of the sale.”
While Brookins and his team were observing from a safe distance, James met up with Lee and her husband at an escrow office to “transfer the money to her bank account.”
After it became clear that Lee would go through with the money transfer, James went into the office alone. That’s when Brookins’ team surrounded Lee’s car and arrested her and her husband on the spot.
The judge set Lee and her husband’s bail at half a million dollars each. When interviewed by 20/20, Lee’s defense attorney maintained her innocence, insisting that it was a civil matter, not a criminal one.
Another Win For Nygaard
Nygaard felt really good about putting another successful arrest of a psychic fraud under his belt. “It was really great to see Brian be able to turn the tables on the con artist,” he told 20/20.
Nygaard is so passionate about this cause that he constantly takes on new cases. At the moment, he is working on ten separate cases.
“People are very embarrassed by this. They say, ‘How could I have fallen for this?’” he says. “But it doesn’t matter if you’re a college professor, it doesn’t matter if you’re a lawyer. It doesn’t matter if you’re a doctor. You’re on their territory. And they know how to take advantage of that.
While it’s unfortunate that police officials often don’t want to get involved in psychic scam cases, it’s good to know there are people like Nygaard specifically out to get fraudulent psychic readers.
I’ve said it once, and I’ll repeat it- there’s no such thing as a curse! If anyone ever tries to tell you otherwise, it’s time to stop talking to them and move on. There are plenty more genuine, authentic psychics for every fake one out there.
I’ve done the research, and the ones I trust the most are the ones I’ve personally reviewed here. All the psychics I’ve reviewed have been tried and tested. They have an overwhelming number of happy customers and have years of experience in the field.