Stories

The IRE Resource Center is a major research library containing more than 27,000 investigative stories.

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Search results for "Maria Duval" ...

  • Simon & Schuster: A Deal with the Devil

    A Deal with the Devil chronicles the journey of two investigative journalists as they search for answers about one of the longest-running mail frauds in history. The scam centers around a mysterious psychic named Maria Duval, whose name and face have become infamous to sick and elderly victims all around the world, who have sent in millions of dollars in response to bogus promises made by letters allegedly signed by Duval. Global investigators have spent decades trying to stop the fraud, but when those efforts failed and they couldn’t determine who this woman was -- or if she was even real – authors Blake Ellis and Melanie Hicken made it their mission to get to the bottom of this notorious scam once and for all. Their hunt takes readers on twists and turns as they discover key orchestrators of the fraud hiding away in places like Monaco and Thailand, and as they get farther than any law enforcement has -- even traveling to France in an attempt to confront the psychic herself. Investigative reporter Bethany McLean called the book “a personal how-to guide for investigative journalists, a twisted tale of a scam of huge proportions and a really good read.” NYU Journalism Professor Adam Penenberg, who famously exposed journalist fraudster Stephen Glass, said, “Journalists Ellis and Hicken out-sleuthed professional law enforcement in unraveling the mystery of a $200 million global scam. What they have wrought would have made a gripping novel. The fact that every word is true is what makes this book downright shocking.” Other endorsements came from NBC business anchor Ali Velshi and crime fiction writer Megan Abbott.
  • The Mail Fraud Mafia

    In CNNMoney’s initial five-part investigation, they took readers along on our journey each week as they peeled back the layers of one of the world’s longest-running scams and ultimately exposed the global network that has kept it alive for decades. Even international investigators had been stumped. They had been unable to shut the scheme down and were not even sure whether the French psychic Maria Duval, who was the face and name of the scam, was a real person. But after months of reporting, CNN managed to zero in on the scam’s original masterminds, untangle the complicated and shadowy business web that has kept the scheme alive, and tell the unexpected story of psychic herself -- providing a rare window into how this massive fraud has been able to go on for so long. And in their second installment, they exposed a little-known Canadian company named PacNet, which has made schemes like this possible. By cashing the checks sent in by countless victims -- not just for the Maria Duval scheme, but for dozens of heartless scams that have preyed on the elderly for decades -- this tiny payment processor had been quietly profiting from global fraud for years. In this world, con artists perpetrate the fraud. PacNet deposits the checks. Not only did this series document just how many scams PacNet had processed payments for, but it also detailed the close-knit network of global scammers that specifically prey on the elderly, and the companies that help them do it.