How a Psychic Stole Millions of Dollars from an Oregon Timber Heir – ABC News
Rachel Lee appeared to be living a middle-class life off of her earnings as a psychic, but when a detective noticed a Ferrari parked outside of her Oregon psychic shop, authorities grew suspicious.
What investigators, and the Oregon timber heir being targeted, eventually discovered was that Lee and her accomplices were in on a decade-long con job together and had stolen approximately $15 million.
Watch ABC News’ David Wright’s full report on ABC News’ “20/20” TONIGHT at 10 p.m. ET.
Ralph Raines Jr., the heir to the Raines Tree Farm fortune, met Lee when the California native opened her psychic shop in Oregon. Raines lived on his family’s douglas fir tree farm with just his sick, elderly father, who had always been hard on him. But the lonely bachelor with a penchant for the occult was also a millionaire.
Desperate for companionship, Raines revealed everything about himself to Lee, while Lee saw the timber heir for all his wealth.
Click through to learn how this psychic was able to steal millions of dollars from her unsuspecting client.
Ralph Raines Jr., grew up an only child in the small town of Gaston, Oregon, on his family’s tree farm.
The Raines Tree Farm, planted by his father, was his family’s source of wealth. Some of the mature trees on their 1,200-acre farm were worth up to $1,000 each. Raines was the heir to the family’s multi-million dollar fortune and business, but it’s not clear if he even knew how wealthy he was.
As an adult, Raines never married and didn’t have any close friends, but he did have an interest in the paranormal.
“I have studied the psychic realm with readings, clairvoyance and this kind of thing,” Raines told “20/20.”
After moving to Bend, Oregon, in 2003, Rachel Lee opened a psychic shop. Raines had his first session with Lee and immediately developed a relationship with her.
“He began to share with Rachel his best-kept secrets, and they also related to his father’s wealth and to the work on the tree farm,” federal prosecutor Donna Brecker Maddux told “20/20.”
Lee also opened up to Raines, telling him about losing her parents and caring for her husband as he died of cancer. She convinced him that her psychic abilities could help him find what he craved the most: companionship and a family. She spent the next two years grooming her mark, becoming his closest friend and confidante.
Lee soon had a growing influence over his decision-making. Raines bought her a steady stream of gifts – including a Hummer – and wrote her checks.
Eventually, Lee introduced Raines to her on-again, off-again boyfriend Blancey Lee, and Raines started paying him to work odd jobs around the house.
By 2006, Rachel Lee had established herself as an authority on Raines’ bookkeeping and personal finance, and convinced him to purchase a $915,000 home in Portland as an investment.
“She also let him know that it could be a place for her, and some of her family members to live while they waited to sell it,” Maddux said.
While Raines and his aging father stayed on their tree farm, Rachel Lee moved in to the mansion with Blancey Lee and four of her five kids.
Later that year in October, Raines’ father suffered a stroke and needed 24-hour care, so Rachel Lee offered to become his caretaker.
At one point, Rachel Lee moved Raines’ ailing father into the Portland home. But while she, Blancey Lee and their extended family occupied bedrooms, Raines’ father slept in the hallway, Maddux said.
In Raines’ mind, he had a caretaker for his father, a handyman for the house and a friend to confide in and handle the burden of the family business. The only thing missing was a wife and child.
“She created a fake world for him designed to exactly meet all the desires and wishes that he ever wanted to have,” Maddux said.
In October 2007, Raines was in Portland International Airport returning home from a timber convention when, while waiting for Rachel Lee to pick him up, a blonde woman with a British accent approached him and introduced herself as Mary Marks.
But what Raines didn’t know at the time was that Rachel Lee had planned the chance meeting, and Marks was actually Rachel Lee’s 17-year-old daughter Porsha Lee wearing a blonde wig. Mary Marks was the name of Rachel Lee’s biological mother.
Armed with details secretly provided by Rachel Lee, she told Raines she had psychic abilities and offered to give him a reading. The reading was spot on, and Raines was hooked.
“She explained to him she was actually a British citizen here in this country [and] that she was a roving, QuickBooks worker and could potentially help him with the finances for his business,” Maddux said.
Before long, Porsha Lee was at the tree farm helping Rachel Lee with the books. Raines believed the two women had never met before and would keep an eye on each other.
Within six months of meeting each other, Porsha Lee, while posing as Marks, told Raines she needed a green card and he eventually agreed to marry her. Porsha Lee then convinced Raines to father a child with her through artificial insemination. The couple never lived together because she said she had a full time job in California.
The time apart helped Porsha Lee to convince Raines she was pregnant with with his child. Using Rachel Lee’s grandson from another daughter to pose as the child, Porsha Lee named the baby Giorgio Armani.
In March 2008, Raines turned over control of all his financial accounts to Rachel Lee and had papers drawn up to give her power of attorney.
Rachel Lee then sold off the stocks from the Raines portfolio and deposited the money into the corporate account. Essentially in charge of paying herself for her role as caretaker of Raines’ father, she often overpaid herself.
She also diverted funds by sending big checks to her family members, Blancey Lee and to Porsha Lee. Rachel Lee’s family members used Raines’ corporate credit cards to pay for clothing, dining and mostly travel.
Using the funds taken from Raines’ accounts, Rachel Lee and Blancey Lee took first-class vacations to Paris, Monaco, Italy and Las Vegas. At the Bellagio Hotel in Vegas, Rachel Lee bought Blancey Lee a $63,670.90 Rolex, one of six purchased with Raines’ money. Over several years, the Lees spent more than $100,000 on plane tickets and $300,000 at one department store, but anyone who looked at the bills would think Raines was the one spending because it was all purchased through accounts that still bore his name.
In Feb. 2011, Rachel Lee’s role as caretaker ended when Raines’ father died at 91.
In 2012, Portland Police Det. Liz Cruthers was commuting to work in Portland when she noticed expensive cars parked by a property in Canby, Oregon.
“This town, it’s a very small farming community,” Cruthers told “20/20.” “So for a Ferrari to show up in this town, it really stuck out.”
The registration on the Ferrari was under Blancey Lee, and it turned out Raines was the owner of a number of psychic shops and other real estate that had been purchased in his name from Oregon to California.
“We were very concerned that we had a ‘sweetheart swindle’ on our hands,” said Cruthers. “[But] we still had no crime. We had no victim and no jurisdiction.”
A year and a half later, Cruthers met Canby Police Det. Steve Floyd, who specializes in computer forensics, and Raines’ neighbor Marlene Olsen, who works for the Department of Justice, at a police training seminar. The chance meeting led Cruthers to strike up a casual conversation.
“I very flippantly sort of asked [Floyd], ‘What are you going to do about that psychic shop right in your backyard?'” Cruthers said.
Olsen, who overheard them, told “20/20,” “Then I turned. I said, ‘Ralph Raines, Raines Tree Farm?'”
They then brought in IRS investigator Cameron Wall to look at the finances. With the expertise and jurisdiction to turn it into a federal case, the unofficial task force dug deeper into Raines’ case. After looking around Raines’ land, Olsen, who had been a logger at the tree farm, saw that all the trees were gone.
Rachel Lee had sold nearly all of Raines’ land. The sale turned Rachel Lee into a millionaire, but she lied to Raines about the money and told him he was broke.
“Rachel told him that he had to sell the tree farm to pay his inheritance tax, which wasn’t true. But he believed it. He believed everything they told him,” Raines’ friend Jeannine Scott said.
Blancey Lee bought the Ferrari and a Bentley with the proceeds from the sale of Raines Tree Farm.
In March, IRS investigator Cameron Wall and Det. Steve Floyd visited Raines and asked him if he ever purchased a Ferrari or gave someone permission to purchase a Ferrari with his money.
“He was very surprised and very short with his answer: an emphatic no,” Wall said. “He had no idea the type of money that was flowing through his accounts.”
After talking to Wall and Floyd, Raines said he told Rachel Lee what the investigators said.
“And she said, ‘Yes, I spent a lot of money on myself.’ And she said, ‘Yes, I did [accumulate] a gambling debt.’ We had so many cock-and-bull stories, I didn’t know what to think,” Raines said.
The investigators moved fast to get a search warrant for the Canby psychic shop. Wall said the home was a treasure trove of evidence and pricey items bought with Raines’ money.
“We found Rolexes. We found expensive looking jewelry. We found valuable coins,” Wall said. They also found Porsha’s disguises that she used to portray Mary Marks, which she did for seven years.
“At the time that Rachel Lee enticed her daughter to become part of this fraud scheme, Porsha Lee was 17 years old,” Maddux said.
“The reason it got so bad was I didn’t get enough good advice on what to do and what I can’t do,” Raines said.
Brett Hall, an attorney Raines hired during the police investigation, told “20/20” that Raines had no clear sense as to how much he had lost at the time and was very much under Rachel Lee’s control.
“He communicated to us that the only way that we could ensure the victim’s safety at that time was to make sure that Rachel Lee was arrested,” said Maddux.
On May 8, 2014, agents raced to the Bend, Oregon, psychic shop, where they found Rachel Lee and Porsha Lee with packed bags and disposable phones.
“Porsha Lee had $36,000 in cash in her underwear at the time,” Maddux said. “They were in the psychic shop. Mister Raines was in a separate apartment in the back of the psychic shop and was disheveled and disoriented when contacted by agents.”
After police arrested Rachel Lee and Porsha Lee, Blancey Lee surrendered. They were each charged with one count of conspiracy to commit wire fraud, eleven counts of money laundering, one count of conspiracy to commit money laundering. Rachel Lee was the only one charged on all counts.
At the time of Rachel Lee’s arrest, Raines’ fortune that had been in excess of $15 million was diminished to just over $200,000 in the bank that he was aware of, Maddux said.
Raines still did not see Rachel Lee as an enemy and submitted a handwritten note to prosecutors saying he was not a victim. He even took the stand at Rachel Lee’s sentence hearing.
“I have very good memories from them. We did a lot of things together, and, you know, with my dad and Giorgio,” Raines said. “I view myself as I was married to her. I view Mary as a real person.”
Prosecutors accepted the Lees’ plea deal in the hopes of recouping some of the stolen assets.
The judge sentenced Rachel Lee to 108 months in federal prison. Just prior to her arrest, authorities discovered that Rachel Lee was already looking for her next mark.
“We know that Rachel Lee had another victim on the hook that she had already started to develop, another individual she had met at her psychic shop,” Maddux said.
“In fact he believed that the two were to be married, and at her direction, he had leased her a Mercedes just a few weeks before we arrested her in this fraud scheme.”
Porsha Lee, 25, was sentenced to 33 months in federal prison, and the judge sentenced Blancey Lee to two years in prison.
The court put Kit Jenson in place as Raines’ conservator to make sure he held on to whatever cash is recovered.
Raines said he is still struggling to come to terms with what happened.
He also wishes he could still play a role in the life of the boy he thought was his son. Giorgio Armani now lives in California with his real mother, Porsha’s sister.
“I do have an interest in Giorgio even though he’s probably not my child, because I took the boy in and I had a relationship with the boy,” he said.
Now living on his farm, Raines said he is doing his best to keep things quiet. But he wishes the best for the people who stole $15 million from him.
“I want them all to get out and do well,” Raines said. “I want them to do well honestly.”
Watch ABC News’ David Wright’s full report on ABC News’ “20/20” TONIGHT at 10 p.m. ET.