Florida takes 'Miss Cleo' to court

Feb. 14, 2002 at 11:58 PM
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FORT LAUDERDALE, Fla., Feb. 14 (UPI) -- The state of Florida is taking psychic pitchwoman Miss Cleo to court to force her to prove she's really the Jamaican shaman she has claimed to be in her TV infomercials that are seen daily by millions of viewers.

Florida's Attorney General's Office on Thursday subpoenaed Miss Cleo's, also known as Youree Dell Harris, birth certificate and records of her relationship with Fort. Lauderdale-based Access Resource Services Inc.

"Rather than consulting their tarot cards, Miss Cleo and Access Resource Services had better consult their lawyers," Attorney General Bob Butterworth said. "I foresee some potentially dire consequences in their futures."

Butterworth said the state filed a civil complaint in Broward County Circuit Court charging Harris and Access Resource Services with violations of the state's Deceptive and Unfair Trade Practices Act.

According to the complaint, doing business under the name Psychic Readers network, the company markets alleged clairvoyant services through television commercials, direct mail solicitations and over the internet.

The company portrays Miss Cleo as someone with "astounding psychic talents" who, along with other Access Resource Services psychics, can provide those who call their hotline with valuable insights into their lives and futures. The company also promises a free, three-minute reading over the telephone, after which callers are charged $4.95 a minute.

In his complain, Butterworth also charges that despite her billing as a "Nationally Acclaimed Master Tarot Reader and Psychic," Harris "cannot substantiate that she had any such national acclaim as a psychic, clairvoyant or tarot reader prior to her promotional activities on behalf of Access Resource Services."

In addition to civil penalties, the state seeks consumer refunds and asks the court to permanently bar the company and Harris from continuing their "objectionable practices."

Attempts to contact Access Resource attorney Sean Moynihan late Thursday were unsuccessful.

At least four stat attorneys general have sued Access Resource Services, including North Carolina in December 1999 in Wake County Superior Court. Arkansas sued in August 2000, followed by Pennsylvania in November 2000; and Missouri filed suit in July 2001.

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