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Sunday, September 17, 2006

James Randi's Swift - September15, 2006


At we wrote about the farce known as the Gentle Wind Project. Well, the Maine Attorney General's office, in an Aug. 14 statement, said that Gentle Wind violated the Maine Unfair Trade Practices Act with claims about its "healing instruments," which he said offer “no benefits,” and he added that the funds of the “fraudulent” charity with its “misleading business practices” were mismanaged. To me, the very fact that GWP was allowed to operate as a charity, is a shocker in itself.

We at JREF tend to hope that our campaign against this scam may have stimulated this action. GWP had claimed that the “instruments” – principally hand-held laminated cards and plastic pucks! – could improve emotional, mental, and physical functioning. The Maine AG argued that there was no scientific evidence supporting such claims, to no one’s surprise. And, the AG found that the “suggested donations” the group received for the instruments were spent wrongfully on personal property.

Now, the law firm for the Gentle Wind Project has refused to represent them any longer, citing nonpayment of legal fees – but not because they were scam artists or because their “instruments” were simple colored plastic cards. "The clients deliberately disregarded an agreement with, or obligation to, the lawyer as to expenses or fees," they said in their motion. However, GWP still has an ongoing lawsuit against former members Judy Garvey and Jim Bergin, of Blue Hill, Maine, alleging defamation. I ask you, how can such an officially-denounced and discredited group claim defamation?

The remaining assets of Gentle Wind – after civil penalties and costs – are to be distributed by the Maine Attorney General as restitution to their Maine consumers and to a Maine charity whose charitable mission is to provide services to those with mental health disabilities.

Ah, but the unsinkable Gentle Wind is already back in business with a new website and reorganized leadership. They now list an address in Sparks, Nevada, far from Maine, describing themselves as all-new, all-volunteer, not-for-profit, making no claims about any relief their instruments may provide, and they say they do not accept any donations for them. "We are a group of people who want to make the world a better, easier place," they piously say. And they still offer the "healing instruments" central to Maine's suit, but now from the protection of the state of Nevada.

Forty-nine states to go…
James Randi's Swift - September15, 2006


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