A Deal with the Devil is the story of a global mail scam that bilked more than $200 million from its victims. Blake Ellis and Melanie Hicken use their skills as award-winning investigative journalists to keep the narrative lively as they explain an extraordinarily complex financial scam.
Letters signed by French psychic Maria Duval arrived at the homes of mostly elderly people, prophesying better days ahead if they sent her money. "The letters appealed to the most base emotions of fear, loneliness, and hope--making it nearly impossible for victims to resist." International fraud units had tried without success over the years to get to the company behind the letters. Duval was "the psychic that no one ever sees."
Ellis and Hicken became obsessed with the extent of this fraud and reported on it for CNN Money in 2016. They spent countless hours on the phone and Internet tracking down what governments could not, and even traveled to France in an effort to meet Duval. Their reporting turns up a colorful cast of characters that includes a copywriter of scam letters, a Swiss attorney and an Argentinean landowner. As the authors wryly point out, "Whistleblowers have always been a journalist's best friend."
A Deal with the Devil shows the power of investigative journalism to uncover corruption. Ellis and Hicken discover the truth about a complicated scheme, halting the financial victimization of those who could not help themselves. --Cindy Pauldine, bookseller, the river's end bookstore, Oswego, N.Y.