Kate Cocks: Pt IV: The Crusade Against Psychic Exploitation.
So bad was the trend, that one fortune teller told an anxious mother, worried about her son, that he would be hanged if she, the fortune-teller did not intervene. To stop it happening, the mother would have to pay money to the psychic to prevent the tragedy!
“Current events largely determine the exploitation of simple-hearted people by callous adventurers.’ observed Miss Cocks. ‘As an example, I quote the flood of fortune-telling that swept over the country in war time. ‘It was a cruel thing, apart from its ridiculous aspect. Women opened ‘occult’ apartments. and undertook to read the future for varying amounts of payment, according to the financial position of their clients. These were mostly women of the nervy type who were living at high pressure on account of having loved ones at the war. ‘It was a frightful thing to exploit such anxiety, and we did not pause in our ruthless cleaning of those crystal-gazers until they were no more.” (The Advertiser, October 1936)
The scammer had set it up with the Adelaide post office so that any mail addressed to “Hubert, Box 440” in Sydney, leaving from Adelaide, be held for a few days and he would pick it up. He then sent a letter back asking for more money for more psychic insights. What he wasn’t counting on was the ingenuity of Cocks, who caught the rogue psychic out. He ended up with 3 months gaol and 25 pound fine for his efforts and recorded as a “rogue or vagabond”.
5 psychics were arrested and charged under Section 67, being; Frances Alexander, George Mereno, Mary Stanley, Julia Stanley and Alick Alexander, all pleaded guilty, but in ignorance of the law. Each psychic was fined 10 Shillings for their crime and 10 shillings court costs. ($77 AUD total costs each in today’s money).