This is the story of Oregon psychic con Rachel Lee, who stole $15 million from Ralph Raines Jr., an elderly timber heir based in Portland.
In a decade-long scam, Rachel Lee mastered her way into managing Ralph’s financial and social affairs. She did literally anything to keep the poor old man on her leash, including planning a fake marriage between him and her own 17-year-old daughter. How did all this happen?
Ralph Raines Jr. meets Rachel Lee
Raines Jr. was a lonely bachelor and heir to a timber farm fortune. His father, Ralph Sr. had built a multi-million dollar business by planting trees on a sprawling 1200-acre land in Galston, Oregon. One mature tree was worth about $1000 dollars. According to Ralph Jr., the trees were mainly sold to companies dealing with telephone and power poles.
Ralph Jr. spent every day on the tree farm. When he wasn’t outside taking care of the fortune, he was inside looking after his ailing father who lived with him. Despite his wealth, Ralph Jr., 60 at the time of his father’s death, continued to work hard and live simply in a humble house on the farm. A few people who knew Ralph Jr. at the time when this story came out, around 2015, told journalists that he had no social life at all. “He’s closer to trees than to human beings,” one ABC News interviewee agreed. Interestingly, Raines Jr. told journalists that he was interested in the paranormal.
Things changed drastically for Raines Jr. when he met Rachel Lee in 2004.
Rachel Lee claimed to be a professional psychic who had just opened a fortune telling parlor in the nearby town of Bend. Raines had somehow known about her, certainly due to his interest in the paranormal. He went to her for love advice and he seemingly liked her comforting companionship.
Ralph and Rachel eventually become close friends. Their relationship went a notch higher when Rachel became his personal advisor and confidant in matters of love and finance. Ralph hired her as his bookkeeper. Unfortunately, while Ralph saw Rachel as a friend, the psychic con saw him for his wealth, and she was going to scam this old unsuspecting man off his inheritance.
Rachel brings on board her fraud accomplices
Apart from Rachel, two other accomplices aided significantly in the decade-long con job. One of them was Blancey Lee, who Rachel introduced to Raines Jr. as her brother. Guess who he was…her on-and-off boyfriend. Blancey started doing odd jobs around the Raines house, and so Raines put him on the payroll.
Before discussing how they were squandering Ralph’s fortune, let’s see who the third accomplice was.
As mentioned earlier, in addition to Rachel managing Ralph’s books, she also came through for him on the romance front. In one of their fortune telling sessions, Rachel had predicted that he would meet the love of his life at an airport. And sure enough, that’s where Ralph’s heart took flight.
In October 2007, Raines was in Portland International Airport returning home from a timber convention when he met a lady named Mary Marks. He was excited to meet Mary, who was a very proper looking young woman with long blonde hair, glasses, and spoke with a British accent. She said she was a financial expert. She also claimed to have psychic abilities and offered to give him a reading. The reading was spot on. Little did poor Ralph know that Rachel Lee had planned this ‘chance meeting’. This beautiful blonde who was melting Ralph’s heart was Rachel Lee’s daughter. Her real name is Porshia Lee. She, of course, wasn’t a financial expert, and she didn’t have any psychic abilities. Rachel had given her details about Raines so that she could fake her free fortune reading.
But it was too late for Ralph. He had already been hooked. Soon after the airport meeting, Ralph employed Mary Marks as Rachel’s assistant bookkeeper. Things were working out for him. After many years of loneliness, he had ‘an expert’ helping him with the burden of managing the family business, alongside an assistant he liked, and there was a handy man to keep things in order around the home.
But to Rachel, things were aligned perfectly to accomplish her con job’s goal – swindling this old man off his fortune.
The next thing anyone knew was that Ralph had made Mary his first Mrs. Raines. This was within six months of meeting her. Then she convinced him to have a baby with her through artificial insemination. Oddly, Raines and Mary never had intimate contact, according to investigators. Nine months later, Mary ‘gave birth to’ a baby named Giorgio Armani, and Ralph was on top of the world. Giorgio was the son Ralph never thought he’d never have. He raised the boy with so much love. By 2011, poor old Ralph believed he and Mary Marks had married and had a child.
Everything Ralph believed wasn’t true, including Giorgio, the apple of his eye. Ralph and Porsha [posing as Mary] didn’t live together. She said she had a full time finance job in California. So, the time apart helped her to convince Ralph that she was pregnant. She wasn’t pregnant with Ralph’s child. Porsche had worn a foam baby bump to fake her pregnancy and conveniently left town. Rachel Lee had another daughter who had a small boy child. She used her own grandson to pose as the child Porsha named Giorgio Armani.
The money part now: What, and how Rachel Lee and her accomplices stole the 72-year-old’s fortune
According to court documents, Lee assumed the role as a paid caregiver to Ralph’s elderly father by 2007. In March 2008, Ralph turned over control of all his financial accounts to Rachel Lee and had papers drawn up to give her power of attorney. Rachel had used her psychic chicanery to get Ralph to sign control of his entire estate over to her.
A February 15 release by the U.S. Attorney’s Office, District of Oregon, read:
Between 2007 and 2011, Rachel Lee directed the victim to incrementally liquidate investment accounts totaling approximately $3.8 million dollars. After depleting the victim’s investment accounts, Rachel Lee convinced the victim he owed substantial taxes and needed to sell his family’s tree farm. At Lee’s direction, the tree farm properties were sold for approximately $12.3 million dollars.
Rachel Lee and her family spent the victim’s fortune on a luxury lifestyle. Lee directed funds for high-roller trips to Las Vegas, trips to California, and a first class trip to Europe. She also spent her ill-gotten gains on luxury clothing and jewelry, including a $64,000 Rolex watch. While selling off the victim’s property, Rachel Lee and her co-defendant, Blancey Lee, purchased a Ferrari and a Bentley on a single day. Finally, between 2010 and 2013, Lee and her co-defendants used the victim’s money to purchase at least 10 properties at a cost of approximately $3.3 million dollars. She and her family used three of the properties – in Bend, Canby, and Scappoose – as Psychic Shops.
By the time of Rachel Lee’s arrest in May 2014, the victim held less than $250,000 in assets under his control.
The Oregon psychic con exposed
Detective Steven Floyd of the nearby Canby police department was doing routine patrol when he noticed the unusual display of prosperity at Rachel’s little psychic shop. High-end cars were coming and going. Also, there was something fishy about the surprising sale of the popular $9 million tree farm Ralph had inherited from his father. The curious detective decided to dig deeper.
Detective Floyd learned that Ralph had fallen prey to a notorious band of gypsies. They went to some extremes to get his money by acting out. Rachel Lee masterminded the fraud by acting as his bookkeeper and his psychic advisor. Blancy, who Ralph believed was her brother, was actually a con man who called himself the ‘king of the gypsies’ or the ‘Italian Gypsy’. The best actress award goes to the woman who played Ralph’s young wife, Mary Marks, for nearly 10 years, without him ever having a clue their wedding was fake. Investigators didn’t find any records of the wedding being made official. There was no marriage certificate, although Ralph believed it was a legitimate marriage.
The con gypsies sent to jail
On February 19, 2015, U.S. District Court Judge Robert E. Jones today sentenced Rachel Lee, then 44, to 100 months in prison for her lead role in a conspiracy to commit wire fraud, money laundering, and her failure to file personal income taxes. Judge Jones also ordered Lee to pay $15,490,978.65 in restitution to the victim. In addition to the prison sentence, she must serve three years of post-prison supervised release.
“Fueled by greed and a complicated web of deceit, Rachel Lee gained control of her victim, liquidated his fortune, and left him nearly penniless,” said United States Attorney Amanda Marshall.
The case was investigated by the Internal Revenue Service, Criminal Investigations and the Canby Police Department.
Rachel’s daughter, Porsha, was jailed 33 months while Blanchey Lee was jailed 18 months for ‘sweetheart swindle’.
How’s Ralph Raines Jr. doing?
An interviewee who lived near the Raines told True Crime Daily that Raines Jr. nearly died when it was revealed to him that Mary Marks was Rachel’s daughter, and that Giorgio was not his son. Ralph told journalists that he was crushed, his life shattered, living without the woman and child he loved. Amazingly, Ralph was ready to forgive and forget if they would be honest with him and be willing to rectify the situation. His trees are the only family he has left now. The good thing is that the court put Kit Jenson in place as Raines’ conservator to make sure he held on to whatever cash is recovered.
Keywords: Gaston tree farm, fortune telling fraud, psychic fraud, Oregon psychic con, Rachel Lee, Blancey Lee, Mary Marks, Ralph Raines, Detective Steven Floyd