A “For Profit” False Prophet
He calls himself “America’s Prophet,” a psychic, trained by Nepalese monks in the art of time travel, who can foretell the future of the stock market. But to the authorities, Sean David Morton is simply a fraud — and a really, really bad psychic. The Securities and Exchange Commission sued Mr. Morton for securities fraud on Thursday, claiming he swindled more than $6 million from investors by promising them “piles of money,” along with spiritual happiness.
“I have called ALL the highs and lows of the market giving EXACT DATES for rises and crashes over the last 14 years,” Mr. Morton claimed at one point, according to the documents filed in connection with the case. According to the S.E.C., Mr. Morton pledged to invest the money he collected with foreign currency traders, who would act according to his psychic revelations. The strategy purportedly earned returns as high as 117 percent over five-month periods.
The reality, the S.E.C. claims, was less impressive — and fraudulent. In court filings, the agency claims that Mr. Morton actually deposited only $3.2 million into the trading accounts. The rest was funneled to various entities, with $240,000 sent to the Prophecy Research Institute, a nonprofit religious group set up by the Mortons.
His predictions weren’t particularly accurate, either. On a Nov. 21, 2001, radio broadcast, Mr. Morton predicted that the Dow Jones industrial average would rise between April and June of 2002, cresting at “12,000 or so” by December of that year. According to the S.E.C., the index fell that year, ending at 8,341. “Morton’s self-proclaimed psychic powers were nothing more than a scam to attract investors and steal their money,” George S. Canellos, the director of the S.E.C.’s New York regional office, said in a statement.
Sadly in desperate times “A fool and his money are easily parted” and there are always “prophets practicing divination for money” (Micah 3:11) and they are found within the church as well as without. The church would benefit from its own “S.E.C.” – call it a “Spiritual Evaluation of Charisma.”
Adapted from nytimes.com