A Des Moines woman has agreed to cease advertising her psychic medium services as being able to heal, cure, treat, prevent, or mitigate clients’ physical or mental health through a settlement with Iowa Attorney General Tom Miller. The state had alleged that Allison Campbell violated the Consumer Fraud Act when claiming her psychic medium service provided unsubstantiated and misleading “healing work” to clients.
In August 2022, the Iowa Attorney General’s office’s Consumer Protection Division opened an investigation into Campbell’s business practices after receiving a consumer complaint from the widow of a former client who took his own life after an alleged misdiagnosis by Campbell.
The AG’s office alleged that Campbell violated the Consumer Fraud Act by engaging in fraudulent, deceptive, misleading and unfair practices through the sale and advertisement of her work, including by:
- Seeking people to “practice healing” on, including those “with at least one physical illness or injury that they would like worked on,” despite not being competent to do so.
- Soliciting customers to purchase services that could “help you research your grief and bring new knowledge to help you move forward,” despite not being competent to opine on mental health disorders.
- Discussing physical injuries with clients despite a lack of professional medical competency.
- Failing to comply with the Door-to-Door Sales Act.
Campbell denied misleading clients and violating the law but has agreed to permanently cease in Iowa advertising that her services can diagnose, opine on, “heal,” “cure,” “treat,” prevent, mitigate, address or impact one’s overall health, any physical health problem or any mental health problem.
Under the agreement, if any client notifies Campbell that they are suffering from a physical or mental health problem or she has good reason to suspect they are, she is to immediately inform the client to seek assistance from a licensed professional.
Additionally, Campbell must cease using the likeness of her former client who killed himself in all advertising and marketing materials related to her business.
A misleading diagnosis
According to the consumer complaint submitted by Becky Courtney, her husband, Craig Courtney, sought Campbell’s “healing” and other alleged medium services after a fall at his home. Over the course of two months, Courtney met with Campbell three times. Additionally, Courtney maintained communication with Campbell through text messages and phone calls.
At some point during these meetings, Courtney’s complaint alleges, Campbell conveyed that her husband would receive a cancer diagnosis that would result in his imminent death.
Information allegedly conveyed to Courtney in support of and by Campbell’s messages included:
- Cancer was throughout his body
- He would undergo one surgery
- He would succumb to the cancer within three to five months, not seeing another birthday
- He would choose to not receive chemotherapy or radiation treatment offered.
Campbell has denied all allegations and some of them are impossible to document because the only witnesses to some of them were Campbell and Craig Courtney. However, documented text messages exchanged between the two appeared to demonstrate that Courtney had sought Campbell’s advice about serious physical health issues he falsely believed he was experiencing, including throat cancer. She had performed an alleged “body scan” that suggested Courtney was suffering from conditions about which he was worried. Further, a video Campbell posted to her promotional social media accounts also showed a portion of a conversation in which Campbell suggested Courtney’s back injury would require medical intervention. Evidence further suggested Courtney took Campbell’s readings literally, as a Google review of Campbell’s business posted by Courtney read: “I’m not a believer but Allison cured me of this. VERY ACCURATE.”
While Courtney also sought the treatment of a licensed doctor and proper medical tests showed no signs of throat cancer, Campbell allegedly advised that through her experience in the medical field, she believed a mass in Courtney’s throat “may not be visible to doctors due to being under the tissue,” according to Becky Courtney’s complaint.
“The experiences with Ms. Campbell and the information shared caused Craig to be at a very heightened, vulnerable state – psychologically, emotionally, and physically,” his widow wrote in the complaint. “After sharing with his family and friends the extreme fear of physically and mentally deteriorating as a result of cancer being throughout his body over the coming three to five months, Craig died by his own hand on July 23, 2022.”
Becky Courtney provided the below statement to the AG’s office following the settlement with Campbell:
“The loss of Craig has devastated our family, leaving an enormous hole that will never be filled. We don’t want this to happen to anyone else’s loved one.
“This is about awareness. We want those who offer psychic-medium services to be aware of the negative impact on lives such an experience can have and there are lines that shouldn’t be crossed. Speaking on health concerns is one of those lines.
“We want those who seek such services to beware. Beware of false information and false promises made by individuals that are not medically trained or licensed to speak on health issues.”
Help is available for anyone considering harming themselves. The 988 Suicide & Crisis Lifeline is a national network of local crisis centers that provides free and confidential emotional support to people in suicidal crisis or emotional distress 24 hours a day, 7 days a week in the United States. Find help online or call 988.
Find more resources through the Iowa National Alliance on Mental Illness.