Psychic suspected of swindling elderly clients

December 19, 2008 6:23:40 PM PST
A San Mateo County psychic has been arrested on a $500,000 warrant for financial elder abuse. This comes right in the middle of an ABC7 News I-Team investigation into the woman and her business.

The I-Team received complaints that 46-year-old Janet Adams convinced people she had psychic powers and that they had to pay her to keep bad things from happening. A member of the I-Team went undercover to meet Adams this week, and just a day later, the San Mateo Police made their move.

Adams can add another arrest to her record. She appeared in San Mateo Superior Court Friday afternoon on a felony count of financial elder abuse for defrauding an 85-year-old woman of $93,000.

Prosecutors say it all started at Adams' psychic kiosk in the parking lot of a San Mateo strip mall.

"One day the victim stopped by just on a lark as she said, just thought it sounded kind of fun, went in, and she was almost immediately told that if she did not come up with $13,000, her husband was going to die," said San Mateo Deputy District Attorney Melissa McKowan.

Adams has used that technique before. In 2003 she was convicted of defrauding a businesswoman of $90,000, as well. She asked not to be identified.

"I just had never met people that are so evil and will take anything from anybody."

The victim tells the I-Team she befriended Adams and agreed to give her a personal loan, but Adams kept coming back for more, even making threats against the victim and her family.

Noyes: "She told you that you might get in your car one day, and the brakes might fail?"

Victim (name withheld): "Yes."

Adams received a suspended sentence of nine months. While on probation, she convinced a 19-year-old woman to give her more than $14,000 to avoid harm coming to her family.

Police gave the victim a hidden microphone. Adams told her, "What happens when you go home and your mother's dead? Then what? That's what this money is for."

Because of that violation of her probation, Adams spent two years at the women's state prison in Chowchilla.

After her release, Adams set up two booths in strip mall parking lots where she performed psychic readings. Recent complaints to the I-Team sounded like Adams was up to her old tricks.

"I was going to crash my car, that I would be gravely injured, that I would spend time in the hospital and that she was the only person who could help me avoid that," says hairdresser Lynsey Hemstreet.

Hemstreet says Adams demanded $900 to prevent that crash. She didn't pay, and she spoke with the I-Team last week.

"I can't believe that she would have the audacity to keep doing it, and I find it appalling that you know, even that she's been caught on this, she clearly still hasn't learned her lesson," says Hemstreet.

Adams' original victim is still trying to recover from her experience.

A judge ordered the psychic to repay the $90,000, but the victim has received nothing.

"She got her hooks into me and I couldn't get them out. I thought I could handle it in the beginning and then it just totally snowballed away and I couldn't handle it."

Adams pleaded not guilty Friday. We will keep track of her case. The police suspect there are other victims out there, so if you know anything, call the San Mateo Police. We would like to hear from you as well. You can e-mail us through this page or call 1-888-40-I-TEAM.


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