Polk County District Court Judge Douglas F. Staskal on Thursday ordered the International Astrology Foundation and its principal to stop sending letters permanently to Iowans requesting money in return for help from fictitious psychics.
The judge ordered Joseph Meisels and his Brooklyn, New York-based Foundation to refund $13,740 to 78 Iowa consumers who sent money in 2014 in response to the foundation’s mailings. The consent judgment also imposes a penalty of $20,000, and needs the defendants to stop all deceptive mail solicitations directed to Iowans and ensure that no one else uses the Iowa mailing list.
“These mailings were outrageous and outlandish in their deceptive claims and promises from supposed clairvoyants, astrologers, and even extraterrestrials,” Attorney General Tom Miller said.
“Sadly, these predatory mailings found their way to the mailboxes of many elderly Iowans, bilking one 77-year-old Iowa woman out of more than $1,500 in 2014 alone,” Miller added.
The letters addressed the recipients as dear friends, and promised to assist them with money challenges, health issues, and other problems. The letters sent from fictitious professors, supposed astrologers, and even aliens.
The consumer fraud lawsuit was filed on February 11.