November 1, 2001 -- Television psychic Miss Cleo
couldn't have predicted her latest predicament - 100 violations of New York's "do not call" telemarketing law.
New York state's Consumer Protection Board yesterday issued a formal notice to Access Resource Services, the Florida company behind the soothsaying icon.
The state charges that the company kept dialing homes on the state's "do not call" list even after it was warned in June.
"I predict that after today, New Yorkers will receive a lot fewer telemarketing calls," Consumer Protection chairman Adrienne Rhodes told reporters as she symbolically cut a phone line.
Rhodes outlined the "scary" business of telemarketing where phone-call recipients - many of them elderly - are misled into calling back on a costly 900 number for a "free" psychic reading, spending precious minutes on the phone tacking up hefty bills.
keeps you answering questions like your name, address, telephone number, e-mail and birthday," Rhodes said. "After those first three minutes, it's $4.95 every call. They are under orders to keep you on the phone."
Rhodes also revealed Miss Cleo's real name - Youree Cleomili Harris of Miami. She said Harris is a member of the Screen Actors Guild who auditioned to get the role of the popular prognosticator and "master psychic."
People who sought an audience with Miss Cleo were usually disappointed, Rhodes said.
But Miss Cleo is only the Betty Crocker of the bamboozling business, Rhodes said. She said the real owner is multimillionaire Steven Feder, also based in Florida, who owns scores of psychic phone lines.
Consumers listed on the "do not call" registry who still hear from telemarketers can file complaints by calling (800) 697-1220. Inclusion on the registry is free of charge. New Yorkers can register by calling (888) 622-5569.