Private Investigator Helped Recover Over $2M for Psychic Fraud Victims


The dollar figures were much larger in the Bryan James’ case with psychic April Lee, who asked, at one point, for a payment of $511,000 to continue removing the curse that supposedly swirled around him.

With the LAPD unwilling to make an arrest in the case, Nygaard still needed help from law enforcement.

Luckily, he found it at the District Attorney’s office in Santa Clara County, Calif.

Dennis Brookins, Santa Clara County D.A.’s Office investigator, spearheaded the operation to arrest Lee.

“My job as a criminal investigator is to help victims,” Brookins told “20/20.” “My job is not to turn victims away.”

Nygaard and James came up with a plan to catch Lee in the con. As part of the operation, James called Lee to tell her he had the money, but she needed to go to San Jose, Calif. to get it.

“I came up with a plan that his mother was going to sell a piece of property,” Brookins said. “[James could] obtain the money because of the sale.”

With Brookins’ team watching, James met Lee and her husband at an escrow office to supposedly transfer the money to her.

After James went into the office alone, Brookins sent his team to surround the car and arrest Lee.

Bail was set at half a million dollars each for Lee and her husband. Lee’s attorney told “20/20” his client is innocent and called it a civil matter.

For Nygaard, it was another success story. “It was really great to see Brian be able to turn the tables on the con artist,” Nygaard said.

But the private investigator’s work isn’t over yet. He’s currently working on ten new cases.

“People are very embarrassed by this. They say, 'How could I have fallen for this?'” Nygaard said.

“[But] it doesn’t matter if you’re a college professor. It doesn’t matter if you’re a lawyer. It doesn’t matter if you’re a doctor. You’re on their territory. And they know how to take advantage of that.”

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