Albuquerque, NM- The con happened so quickly, Jeanne Marten didn’t realize it was happening until afterwards.
“He walked in and started saying some things about me and he asked me if I had a couple of minutes,” she said. “The more I think about it, he just had this little magic trick I didn’t catch on to.”
Marten owns a hair and nail salon called Gene Mariez Salon, and this is where Harbhjan Singh took advantage of Marten. As she was finishing up for the day on May 24, Singh came in and told her that he would like to read her fortune for her. He had very specific information about her personal life.
“It kind of freaked me out about the things he knew about me,” said Marten. “About the relationship that I’m in that’s been in turmoil, about my daughter, about my kids and my ex-husband.”
Although Marten stated that she never believed in psychics or fortunetellers, she was intrigued by the information he was giving her, which was absolutely spot-on. She was convinced he was serious, and that is when Singh asked her for payment.
“He told me that (his fee) was $400 if I was poor, $600 if I was middle of the road and $900 if I was wealthy,” Marten said.
Singh received a check from Marten for $250 and he left with that payment amount. Marten said she felt like she had just been conned as soon as he left though.
“I realized I was absolutely had and the money I gave him- I felt like an idiot.” Marten said.
Marten quickly realized that there was nothing psychic about Singh; he had simply scoured the Internet for personal info about her life. In about 20 seconds, a KRQE news reporter was able to find a vast amount of information about Marten and her personal life by just looking up her name on the Internet.
The largest amount of information about her came directly from her Facebook profile and status updates that she had posted.
Fortunately, Marten realized what had happened to her and she placed a stop payment on the check she wrote to Singh immediately, before he even had a chance to cash it.
Singh also stopped by Exclamation Printing, another business that was close to Marten’s salon. A KRQE reporter also readily found personal information about the employees of this business by searching online.
“He told me for a few dollars he could predict the future,” said an employee of Exclamation Printing- Jayson Cordova. “I said, ‘Well, you must not be very good because you wouldn’t have wasted your time coming into this building.”’
Cordova said that Singh just left without saying anything else.
Social media users were advised to not post an overwhelming amount of personal information online by an Albuquerque police spokesperson.
“Where your kids go to school where you work, all of that information, those aren’t things you would share with people on the street that you pass by,” says Officer Tasia Martinez. “So why would you put it on the Internet where it’s on the World Wide Web and accessible to anyone and everyone, including criminals?”