Now we know: Buffalo-area investment manipulator Guy Gane Jr., who has been accused by the Securities and Exchange Commission of operating a 5.8-million-dollar Ponzi scheme, regularly sought advice from “psychics.” (A Ponzi scheme, named for swindler Charles Ponzi [1889–1949], involves paying investors high returns, actually gained from an increasing number of new investors—until outgoing cash exceeds incoming cash, and the structure collapses.)
One of Gane’s self-professed psychics was Ellen Bourn, who is a past-president of the Lily Dale Assembly, the world’s largest center for spiritualism (the belief that one can communicate with the dead). Her Web site bills her as an “incomparable metaphysician, psychic, master astrologer, healer and teacher.” In actuality, her real name is Ellen Bornstein, and she—like Sylvia Browne and many other “psychics”—has traits associated with a fantasy-prone personality. (Such persons often have rich fantasy lives, believe they have psychic and healing powers, think they receive special messages from higher entities, and so on.)
Gane’s other psychic has an even longer list of claimed powers—or fantasies: He is a self-described Christian mystic, dowser, spiritualist medium, healer, tarot reader, etc., including exorcist. He also describes himself as a Bishop of the Western Rite Orthodox Catholic Church and “renowned metaphysician,” as well as a bankruptcy attorney—although the home he practiced from has suffered foreclosure and is presently boarded up.
Interestingly enough, “Bourn” served as “executive director of project development” and Lagona as “company lawyer” for Gane, whose corporate headquarters are located on Sweet Home Road—just a few blocks from my own office at the Center for Inquiry. (I was familiar with “Bourn” from Lily Dale, where I have frequently investigated spiritualist phenomena. Also, I was invited to participate in a previous “Lift the curse on Buffalo” event involving both psychics, although I decided not to dignify the silliness with my presence.)
In breaking the March 1, 2009, story, Buffalo News reporter Michael Beebe quoted “Bourne” as insisting she was only a part-time employee, had no dealings with Gane’s investments, and dispensed advice “as a hobby”; Lagona did not respond. I would just ask the two alleged psychics: Couldn’t you get an inkling of what was going on? Catch a glimpse of those millions of dollars disappearing from people’s retirement funds? Feel the vibrations from the impending scandal and misfortune that you yourself were caught up in? Were your psychic colleagues at Lily Dale and elsewhere unable to warn you? Now do you understand the consequences of living in a fantasy world?