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How the Charlatans of New York City Are Ruining Psychic Readings for Everyone

Charlatans ruin everything for legitimate psychics.

In 2014, Celia Mitchell, 38, ran a storefront reading shop on Ninth Avenue in Hell’s Kitchen. After telling a customer he was cursed, she began to ask if he’d buy her things. Eventually, the customer reportedly gave her a cumulative total of almost $160,000—according to the criminal complaint he filed.

Under oath, she proclaimed—on behalf of psychics everywhere—that the ‘psychic business’ is a complete scam.

Mitchell was on trial for grand larceny, and she became one of many charlatans who confessed to their falseness before a parole board, meanwhile tarnishing the gift of psychic vision for everyone. Another psychic from Greenwich Village—Sylvia Mitchell, 41—has been sentenced for a 2013 grand larceny charge for up to 15 years.

Priscilla Kelly Delmaro, 26, was also arrested for convincing a man from Brooklyn to give her a grand total of over $713,000. This was, she said, to reunite the man with his ex-girlfriend, a ruse Delmaro kept up even after it transpired that the man’s ex-girlfriend was dead.

According to the transcripts obtained from the district attorney’s office, many such psychics whet their customer’s whistle on street corner by providing a free reading and then providing disturbing information; then, they ask for as much as $50 for a further reading.

Charlatan reader Sylvia S. Mitchell—no relation to the Sylvia Mitchell mentioned earlier—was convicted of the manslaughter of her 85-year old husband in 1993. On parole in 2006 (when she was 40), she claimed that her culture prohibited her from attending school and instead forced her to take up storefront fortunetelling.

Betty Vlado, 46, was also convicted of grand larceny. She proclaimed during a parole hearing that she concocted every single one of her psychic readings to take advantage of desperate individuals. This involved charging a woman over $14,000 for a rock she obtained from a ‘NASA-certified’ meteorite. She went to prison when she couldn’t repay the $55,000 she stole from victims.

Many of the commissioners who interview these charlatans on their parole hearings express clear glee at hearing that their psychic readings are lies. During her parole hearing, Ms. Vlado was repeatedly teased until she revealed that she would never conduct another reading if she was released.

Celia Mitchell, on her parole hearing, stated that she thinks psychics can never be genuine if they are taking money for their services. In fact, she wants to write a book about how supposed psychics—namely, Gypsies—are all charlatans with the sole aim of cheating people out of their money.

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