10 years in U.S. prison for Canadian man who stole millions with fake psychic fraud

A former Montreal resident has been sentenced to 10 years in a United States federal prison for a multi-decade fraud that manipulated more than one million Americans into sending money to fake psychics.

The U.S. Justice Department says Patrice Runner, 57, stole more than $175 million from 1.3 million people in the U.S. between 1994 and 2014.

A New York Federal Court convicted Runner, a Canadian and French citizen, on 14 charges, including mail fraud and wire fraud, in June 2023.

Officials say that Runner used a Montreal company to send Americans letters claiming to be from psychics who promised wealth and happiness in exchange for a fee.

U.S. authorities say no psychics were involved in the operation and that those who paid would receive additional letters offering to sell them more services and items with supposed magical powers.

Chris Nielsen, the inspector in charge of the U.S. Postal Inspection Service’s Philadelphia Division, says Runner preyed on elderly, vulnerable Americans and that the sentence is an “appropriate punishment.”

— This report by The Canadian Press was first published April 17, 2024.  

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