Psychic investor didn’t see this coming
Will anyone have sympathy for the investors who gave their money to 'America's Prophet'?
Sean David Morton claimed that he used psychic powers developed in a Nepalese monastery to accurately predict market performance. "I have called ALL the highs and lows of the market, giving EXACT DATES for rises and crashes over the last 14 years," he wrote in his newsletter in 2006.
Bizarre claims alone aren’t enough to get you in trouble with the SEC, but messing with other people’s money is. Only about half of the $6 million Morton assembled from more than 100 investors in 2006 and 2007 was actually passed on to foreign currency traders, as he had said he would, the Securities and Exchange Commission alleges in a civil suit filed this week. At least $240,000 allegedly ended up with Morton's Prophecy Research Institute.
"Morton's self-proclaimed psychic powers were nothing more than a scam to attract investors and steal their money," the SEC said.
A New York Times headline about the case was spot on: “For psychic, suit came as surprise.” The Times story said:
Next to the Ponzi scheme orchestrated by Bernard L. Madoff, the Morton case might seem like little more than a footnote in the annals of financial fraud. But the story is so unlike the usual Wall Street fare -- it touches on late-night talk radio, a company called Magic Eight Ball and the Dalai Lama -- that even in this post-Madoff world it all seems a bit hard to fathom.
Morton claimed the Dalai Lama sent him to the remote monastery, where he learned about time travel and other cool stuff.
Anyone can make incredible claims, but what’s astounding is how many people believe them. Morton, who calls himself “America’s Prophet,” found his audience by doing things like appearing often on late-night radio shows about paranormal activities. About 20,000 people subscribed to his newsletter.
Morton, 51, didn’t know about the SEC suit until the New York Daily News told him about it. However, he told the Daily News that he had seen a crash coming but that his trader didn’t heed his advice. “I lost more in this so-called ‘investment scheme’ than anyone," Morton said.
What’s to become of those he allegedly bilked? “Can you imagine telling your friends and family that you lost a couple of hundred thousand dollars because you trusted it to someone who assured you he had psychic powers to forecast the market?” the NYT’s Floyd Norris wrote.
One reader replied, “As I look into my crystal ball, I have a vision of the investors involved not getting much sympathy.”
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