July 17, 2024

Elderly therapist Ashley Crooks of Ocean City exploited her clients’ credit card details to fund her psychic readings, totaling thousands of dollars. This malpractice happened while she was still under a pre-trial intervention program following a similar offense.

The Sanctuary Ventures app flagged a fraudulent charge of $40,000 on Crooks’ account in the span of just two months in 2022, initiating the investigation. She confessed to resorting to the use of her clients’ credit cards after she had exhausted her own, although she could not specify the number of cards involved.

Sanctuary’s internal investigation discovered a total of 30 distinct credit card details linked to Crooks’ account. Furthermore, about 20 were declined upon transaction.

In a move to evade legal action, Crooks willingly renounced her license and was privately granted pretrial intervention. However, her patients were kept in the dark, uninformed of the therapist’s now revoked license and her transition to a ‘life coach’.

A BreakingAC report in September, caught many by surprise, including Heather Bailey, one of the Crooks’ patients for over five years. Bailey’s TikTok video discussing Crooks’ issue became a sensation. Crooks then denied BreakingAC’s report, labeling it as inaccurate and that the credit card charges were a result of a security default.

Furthermore, several of Crooks’ former patients noticed a multiply billing per session. Crooks responded by blaming the Square app. However, she eventually confessed to fraudulent activities by charging a total of $1,500 to a customer’s credit card.

This confession resulting in the termination of her nearly two-year-long pretrial intervention, which was originally scheduled to complete in three years. The state recommended a one-year probation for both cases to be served concurrently after pleading guilty. The state also agreed not to emphasize charges of a similar nature allegedly committed until January 31, 2023.

This date appears noteworthy as it extends for months after her declared business closure and relocation. Yet, BreakingAC previously reported that despite her claims to have closed down the business, it was still operational.

Should any of her clients who allege being overcharged wish to come forward prior to this date, there would be no additional charges pressed but the clients could file civil suits to reclaim their money.

During the court proceedings, Crooks’ parents accompanied her. Crooks’ mother to persuade the reporters to stop trying to videotape the ongoing court proceedings. Feeling flustered, Crooks’ father approached defense attorney Melissa Rosenblum who then discussed the matter with the judge.

Judge Christine Smith momentarily adjourned the court. After returning, she instructed an officer that the court permits only still photos and not videos.

During her confession, Crooks declared that she attended graduate school, which was unexpected as she had previously boasted about accomplishing a Ph.D. whilst managing multiple businesses and clients. This was later discovered to be false; in reality, Nova Southeastern University had no data of Crooks finishing their doctoral program, though she did earn her master’s degree from the same university in 2015.

Post-court, the victim expressed her opinion on Assistant Prosecutor Ed Shim’s belief in second chances. The victim disliked this sentiment, stating that Crooks committed the fraud during her second chance, therefore she was already been granted leniency.

Her sentencing has been scheduled for July 24.

Frequently Asked Questions

What was Ashley Crooks’ first offense?

Crooks’ initial offense involved leveraging her clients’ credit card credentials to pay for her psychic readings, accumulating charges worth thousands of dollars.

What was the consequence of Ashley’s first offense?

For her initial crime, Ashley voluntarily gave up her therapist license and was privately granted pretrial intervention avoiding criminal trial. However, she exploited this grace period to commit a similar crime.

What is the penalty for Ashley’s subsequent offense?

Upon confessing to her subsequent fraudulent transaction worth $1,500, Ashley’s pretrial intervention program was terminated. The State recommended a concurrent twelve-month probation for both offenses, safeguarding her from additional similar charges put forth until January 31, 2023.