Albuquerque, NM- The con happened so quickly; Jeanne Marten didn’t realize it was happening until afterward.
“He walked in and started saying some things about me and he asked me if I had a couple of minutes,” said Marten. “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, where Harbhajan Singh took advantage of her. 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,” she said. “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 gave her, which was spot-on. Singh convinced her he the real deal, and that’s when he 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 left with that amount. It didn’t take long for Marten to realize what had happened. She remembers feeling like he had conned her as soon as he walked out the door.
“I realized I was absolutely had and the money I gave him- I felt like an idiot.”
Marten quickly realized there was nothing psychic about Singh; he had simply scoured the Internet for personal information regarding her life.
In about 20 seconds, a KRQE news reporter was able to find extensive information about Marten and her personal life. All she had to do was a quick internet search of her name.
The most personal information came directly from her Facebook profile and the status updates she had posted. Singh had just given Marten a cold reading.
Fortunately, Marten realized what had happened to her and placed a stop payment on the check. She was able to do this before he 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 that 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.
A spokesperson for Albuquerque police advised social media users against posting an overwhelming amount of personal information online.
“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,” said 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?”