Psychic Medium Miss Cleo, whose true name is Youree Dell Harris, is the subject of the latest documentary on HBO Max, titled Call Me Miss Cleo.
As Miss Cleo on the Psychic Readers Network, Harris would urge viewers to “call me immediately!” in order to receive a free psychic reading.
However, Harris and Psychic Readers Network were accused of fraud in the early 2000s and were the subject of controversy.
Call Me Miss Cleo includes conversations conducted in 2016 with Harris and celebrity admirers Debra Wilson and Raven-Symoné. The documentary investigates whether Harris knew what she was doing or if she was exploited.
What Happened to Miss Cleo?
Miss Cleo was the stage name of Youree Dell Harris, an American television personality.
She was best known in the United States as Miss Cleo, a spokesperson for Psychic Readers Network, a pay-per-call psychic service. She appears in a number of the network’s television advertisements between 1997 and 2003.
She also used the identities, Cleomili Harris and Youree Perris. On July 26, 2016, Harris passed away from colorectal cancer. She reached the age of 53. Two of her children survived her death.
Harris joined the Psychic Readers Network as Cleo in the mid-1990s. She appeared on-screen as a psychic infomercial claiming to be a Jamaican shaman.
She invited people to phone the minute-by-minute hotline to have their fortunes told, using her famous tagline “The cards never lie.” In the late 1990s, Miss Cleo and the Psychic Readers Network began to confront allegations of misleading advertising and fraud.
Customers reported receiving emails stating: “Miss Cleo is permitted to provide you with a Special Tarot Reading! it is imperative that you contact right away!” According to Slate.com, these calls were handled not by psychics but by actors reading from scripts.
Apparently, calls that were promoted as free were charged. According to The Washington Post, the federal authorities estimated that the “free” calls cost users of Psychic Readers Network $1 billion.
North Carolina filed a lawsuit against Access Resource Services (doing business as Psychic Readers Network) in 1999, charging the company with fraud and deceptive advertising. Arkansas, Florida, Illinois, Kansas, Missouri, New York, North Carolina, Oklahoma, Pennsylvania, Wisconsin, and Indiana were among the subsequent states.
In 2002, the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) sued Steven Fader and Peter Stotz, the proprietors of Access Resource Services and promoters for Harris, with misleading advertising, invoicing, and collection tactics.
The FTC determined that Psychic Readers Network did offer free readings to customers, but those who dialed a toll-free number were sent to a 900 number and charged $4.99 per minute. According to The Washington Post, roughly 6 million consumers who made the calls were charged an average of $60.
Fader and Stotz reached a settlement by erasing the customer’s $500 million debt to the network and paying $5 million to the FDC. Additionally, all uncashed checks were returned to clients.
Harris was not charged in the case, but amid several court fights, it became clear that she was not from Jamaica as she had claimed. It turned out that she was born in Los Angeles and her parents were native-born Americans.
Harris told The Advocate, following the disclosure of her birth information, “I am who I am,” noting that she had Jamaican ancestry.
Regarding doubts as to whether she was a genuine psychic, Harris explained: “I am more of a shaman, a village elder who gets visions and provides guidance to the villagers. My customers and students are my communities.
I am responsible for this community. If you sit at my table, you must take away a lesson, not merely information on what will occur tomorrow. I also offer home cleansings and blessings, as well as homosexual and straight weddings.”
“Post Psychic Readers Network”
Under the name Cleomili Harris, she discussed her experience with Psychic Readers Network in the 2014 documentary Hotline. She also worked in advertising and provided the voice for Auntie Pulet in Grand Theft Auto: Vice City in 2002.
Call Me Miss Cleo is now available on HBO Max.