Operation Lemon Meringue – Thomas John

Susan Gerbic

Zoom has been amazing for me during this pandemic—I’m at home, but I’m able to connect with friends and family all over the world. Even train, coach, and plot for all the various projects I’m involved in. I’ve recorded many interviews with members of the skeptic community and posted them on Facebook and YouTube for people to review later. Really, Zoom is a wonderful tool. The psychic world has taken full advantage of it also. They can’t meet in person anymore so they have found that people are happy to fork over $20 as a donation to receive a link to a Zoom event. 

Easy to host, easy to share, people can chat and bond with each other as the tears flow when a loved one is reached. Just incredible; if only the Fox sisters could have foreseen this. I bet Sylvia Browne would have been the queen of Zoom if she had lived to see the day. 

The Guerrilla Skeptic team attends a lot of psychic events. There is no end to these all over the internet, and hopefully I’ll get these reports written up and out to you dear readers. In this article, I’m going to tell you a bit about one of our favorite Grief Vampires. Yes, it’s Thomas John time again. We are calling this series of investigations into these psychic Zoom readings Operation Lemon Meringue. 

Several of us attended, not under our real names of course, and as usual were able to interact with others on the call, Thomas John himself as well as his sister Kelly. I’m always surprised that Thomas John can’t tell he is talking to one of the Guerrilla Skeptics; maybe he is just too busy to notice that the spirit must be yelling at him, “Do not interact with this person” but as I said there is a lot going on.

There were about 300 people in the Zoom room, almost all women. 

Let me point out that this event was sold out and lasted about two hours with a requested donation of $20 a person, which means he made about $3K an hour. Plus, he was pushing his classes, which aren’t free. Nice gig. Did I mention that this was a donation? Someone please educate me if that means he has to declare it on his taxes or not. If I didn’t have a conscience, I think that I could pay off my house in a couple years with this kind of income. 

So I’m not going to name any of the people Thomas John read, not specifically, but I will give you some idea of how this seems to work. 

Everyone is supposed to be on mute and are encouraged to post in the chat box. Many people are very friendly to each other and when someone is given a reading, then a lot of people send out emojis of affection. There are also very desperate people throwing out comments about their loved one that they say they badly need to hear from. It’s really pretty sad to read these desperate comments. Anyone claiming that this is “For Entertainment only” is sadly misinformed. 

Thomas John gives two kinds of readings: Sometimes he goes to someone specifically on Zoom, pins them on the screen, and unmutes them. That person gets a direct and specific reading. He says he is “drawn to them” or “the spirit led to them.”  The other kind of reading Thomas John does is what he calls “spirit guided,” which means he is claiming that the spirit of someone who has passed over is calling out to Thomas John, gives names and specific information, and then the audience on Zoom calls out that they think it is their dead person. The things Thomas John says can be so vague that at times it feels like you are in a free-for-all. Thomas John will continue giving information until it becomes clear who the reading is for. The poor person who loses the reading is forced back to being muted, and they sit and wait and hope that they will get another chance. 

I’ve been investigating Thomas John for years, and like clockwork whenever he knows a specific name (the more unusual the better), then the more specific he is with the information he claims comes from spirit. But what my team has found is that all this specific information is just a few clicks away in a search if you know where to look. All the same information that he tells these desperate people. Sometimes he offers platitudes to warm up a loving heart “she is watching over you hon,” “when the lights flicker that is her sending you a sign,” and “you will be together again because you are soulmates.” You know, just normal platitudes that sound flippant, but to these poor sitters it feels like mom is really speaking though Thomas John and the tears flow. Who else but dear old mom would know how badly they want to hear they are still loved. 

Other times Thomas John throws out comments that would appear to a skeptic like me to be cold-reading phrases, statements that appear to sound specific, but actually are applicable to many people. Cold-reading can also be generalities based on what the psychic sees and hears from the reader, their age, gender, name, appearance … that kind of thing. 

For example from Operation Lemon Meringue, Thomas John was giving a reading to a woman sitting on a couch and a young child popped into the frame for a few seconds. Thomas John a few minutes later asked her “you have children don’t you?” 

As I said, I’ve been investigating Thomas John for years, and in my opinion, I think he is hot-reading, which means he has specific information on a person before he starts the reading (or someone is handing off the information in real time) 

How would he find the time to hot-read 300 people? How would he know which specific person on Zoom matches up to an internet search?

He does not need to review everyone; he only needs about ten strong readings. How does he know which person goes with what reading? The people on Zoom have their names right across their screen. A couple of times when people with “Jane’s iPhone” or “Donna’s iPad” tried to claim a person in spirit, Thomas John acknowledged them and then passes them over moving to a person whose full name is on their account. There are also people on the call that he has read before. That’s hot-reading. 

Don’t forget that when Thomas John posts the event for the Zoom readings on Facebook, people post that they are attending the reading. That is a live link to a person’s Facebook page. So if the name is uncommon like Susan Smith, then Thomas John can take a browse around Susan Smith’s Facebook page and see what turns up. I find the quickest place to check is the photos, anything that looks old and faded is probably going to mention someone who has passed over. Looking through the comments you will find people saying how much they missed the person, and if you are lucky someone will mention their name and how they are related to the person who posted the photo. “Oh I miss your mother so much Susan, we always thought Aunt Elise made the best Lemon pies.” Now we would know Susan’s mother is named Elise, and we know the niece’s name because we can look at who posted the comment. Easy! 

There is one tool in the hot-reading toolbox that I haven’t mentioned much but we do know that Thomas John uses it: it’s Intelius. I think it’s time to explain how this works and how easy it is to use for hot-reading research. We know that Thomas John uses this site because we saw it bookmarked on his desktop that he inadvertently showed us during one of his online classes. I should mention that during that same class, Thomas John showed his Google search screen where we could see he was searching for obituary information for various people.

So here is Intelius.com. It is a subscription service that you can use for unlimited searches. It’s about $22 a month, but you can usually get coupons or they will offer you a few weeks free to entice you to subscribe.

This is generally how it works: If you have a first and last name, then that’s about all you need. The more unusual the name the better. I did a search for myself, Susan Gerbic, while logged out just to see what someone would find on me when they don’t have an account. It was quite eye-opening. 

I added Susan Gerbic to the search, I didn’t even pick a state, and it came up with my name and my cousin in Tennessee who is also a Susan Gerbic (poor woman). Then Intelius asks you to narrow it down. It offers you a list of names that are associated with the name Susan Gerbic. It has some pretty interesting information, all people I know, but many I haven’t thought about in years. My ex-husband’s family mostly, some alive and some dead. There are street names and cities, and they tease that there are criminal records awaiting you if you sign up for the service. Interesting, tell me more …

It searches and then offers you a few choices to narrow it down further and searches some more. With only my name, this website had narrowed it down to me specifically and it only took a couple minutes. I wasn’t logged in but if I had been then it would have given me addresses, more names, phone numbers, and a lot more. Intelius.com isn’t the only website that offers this service. There are many, but the idea is the same. For under $300 a year, you can have unlimited searches and find out pretty much anything you want to know about a person. Once you know that person’s information, you can continue searching names of people who are associated with them. Again very easy. And $22 a month is a small price to pay when you are making $6,000 for a few hours work once a week. 

The Guerrilla Skeptic team watched Thomas John move through several readings of people whose names were prominent on their Zoom screens. Remember he knew who was showing up for a reading, because he sold them a ticket and many post on the Facebook event that they will be attending. Look up ten people and take notes. When you see their name on the Zoom screen, then act as if the sprit wanted you to be in touch with them. Seriously folks, it is just that easy. Of course, he is pretty skilled at how this is worded; he has done these readings probably a thousand times. And during these Zoom events, he comes across as charming, sweet, and just like that nice checker at the grocery store that always looks to see if your eggs are unbroken. Very pleasant and caring to all he interacts with. Near the end of this event he even took his dog outside, what a sweet man Thomas John is, just like a normal person. 

Let me give you a few examples of the specific readings Thomas John gave. I won’t give away names, but just enough information that someone attending the Zoom reading will recognize the story. 

In no particular order, let us start with a woman who had a really horrible audio connection. Thomas John kept trying to give her information but her responses were so garbled that eventually he put her on mute and she responded on the chat. I’ll call her Cherry. She had a nice long unique name on her Zoom screen, which made it really easy for my team to find out all about her in a couple minutes. On her Instagram account, which is all photos, I selected the oldest, most faded photo, and from the comments I discovered her brother George had died ten years before. Well guess what the first question he asked Cherry? “Who is George?” Cherry actually wanted to hear from her mother who had died last month, and there were photos of Cherry and her elderly frail but sweet looking mother all over Cherry’s Facebook page. We did a quick search on Legacy.com (which is where obituaries are gathered) and saw all the names of family that Thomas John asked her about. 

I think it’s interesting to point to a clue to possible cause of death by looking at where the donations instead of flowers are asked for at the end of the obituary—“Donations to the American Cancer Society” might just be why these hot-reading Grief Vampires will throw out “who died of cancer?” I remember reading an obituary that mentioned donations to a teen suicide prevention organization. The obituary was for a teenager and the parent had no idea how the medium knew their child had committed suicide. Very sad. 

One really interesting thing happened that I should point out—when I did a general Google search for Cherry’s full name, I found an obituary for a woman who died in 2013; let’s call her Zane. Thomas John asked Cherry “Who is Zane?” and Cherry responded on the chat that she didn’t know. That’s odd because Cherry’s full name pulled up this obituary of this unusually named woman and Thomas John also mentioned that unusual name. One of my team mentioned that Cherry back in 2013 had left a comment on the obituary giving her condolences to Zane’s family, and Cherry signed her comment with her full name. That’s why we found the obituary and probably why Thomas John did also. Cherry had forgotten all about signing this obituary in 2013. Probably upon reflection after the Zoom reading, Cherry remembered who Zane was and is now probably more of a believer than before in the gifts of Thomas John. 

Another woman—I’ll call Erin—told Thomas John that she wanted to talk to her Aunt Donna who had always given great advice, and they were really close. Erin feels like she needs to change her career and possibly move; she feels aimless. Erin also has a fairly unusual first and last name, and we quickly found her on Intelius, her phone numbers, state she currently lives in, and occupation. Thomas John wasn’t feeling Aunt Donna coming though for some reason, but he did know what Erin did for a living “are you in business, money, numbers …?” Erin agreed and said she is a financial advisor. Thomas John said that he feels she lives on the East Coast, which Erin validated as correct, and then Thomas John said that her family is saying she should move to another state and be near nature, to which Erin seemed satisfied. Erin will probably be quitting her job, moving to Florida, which she said feels more like home, and take on a new occupation. Nice to know Thomas John has so much influence over someone he does not know. 

Here is one that ended up in tears, very heartbreaking. Thomas John was looking for a mother whose son passed in the last few years. Something to do with Disneyland and Mitchell and a woman that had diabetes. This mother—we will call Annie—claimed Mitchell as her poor son who had just started to find happiness when he died. The family had been planning a trip to Disneyland and grandma had passed before Mitchell and was welcoming him. Yep, we confirmed all this information from an obituary for Mitchell and grandma. I should mention Annie’s last name made finding her information pretty quick, maybe three minutes for my team to find.

This one took a while to find because she has such a common name, let’s call her Diane Jones. Thomas John mentioned a “Nan … name” and Diane jumped on it “that’s my mom Nancy!” Thomas John described an older woman named Salina, which apparently is Nancy’s mother’s name. This was really heartbreaking to listen to because Diane was so emotional during this reading. Thomas John assured Diane that she is also psychic and just needs to practice and someday she will be able to connect with her mother and grandmother on her own. I’m surprised that Thomas John didn’t hit Diane up right then for his classes where he teaches people to learn to be mediums. Maybe they slipped Diane a message later for his classes. It took a bit, but we were able to confirm all this information about Diane’s family on Legacy.com. I suspect that Diane was one of those people who had checked in on Facebook saying she would be attending the Zoom event, showing her Facebook page, which allowed for easier searching to her family. I should note that when Thomas John sets up his events on Facebook, he has it set so the attendees names aren’t shown unless it is someone you are Facebook friends with.

This next one is for someone with a very interesting last name–no problem finding her on social media or on Legacy.com. I’ll call her Kari—Thomas John right away picked up on a big dog that was trying to come though from the spirit world. He says that Kari’s father is also in spirit and he “had a lot of trauma in his life but didn’t express it.” Then the names Michael and Brianna, which causes Kari to start crying as they are her mother and brother. Thomas John says that Kari is an empath herself and then he asks her who had a drug overdose. Kari then starts filling in the details about her brother’s tragic history, and it is pretty sad; he died in a facility. Kari says that she was suspicious that her bother did not die of natural causes but that the facility had given him an overdose either accidently or … . Kari bases this belief on how rude they were when she asked for an autopsy; they said it was too expensive. Thomas John confirms her suspicions of the facility and they probably did something wrong. He also asked if Kari has a business of her own. 

Well with the last name Kari has, it took us only a few seconds to confirm that she owns a dog grooming business that has really suffered because of COVID-19. Her father’s picture is one of the first photos you see when you visit Kari’s Facebook page. The information about the brother and mother were easily found in a obituary. 

Another spirit tried to get in touch with Thomas John giving him the name Stewart who was fifty-eight when he died and that he is someone in the room’s husband. A woman with a very unusual last name says in chat “me me me” and Thomas John zeros in on her. The wife—I will call Maria—says that her brother-in-law who is Stewart’s brother is also on the Zoom call. Thomas John says that this reading is just for Maria but the brother-in-law can listen in (well actually we are all listening in). Remember, he is prepared for Maria, not the bother. 

Thomas John zeroed right in on a date, and Maria said, “that was the day Stewart died.” Thomas John asked if Maria was thinking of moving, and she said that she wasn’t planning on moving from the family home but was thinking of purchasing a second home. So how did Thomas John get the name of Stewart and the date so clearly? Well with a last name like Maria’s, it took my team seconds to find Stewart’s obituary with all the names and the date of death. Simple. 

This next one was clearly a fishing trip for hot-reading. Rose with an unusual last name is called on and Thomas John gets an image of a nurse’s hat. This is one of those visuals he throws out often; it can mean many things: someone is or was working in the medical field, that someone needed nursing care before they died, or someone was nursing them in the family before they died. What are the odds of that? Anyway, Rose starts to have to explain what seems like drama in the family: her sister is a nurse, but the other sister had to do the nursing of mom and Rose lives too far away to have helped. There were issues at the hospital with family not liking what the doctors told them, and then a stepfather was involved … . Just a mess. 

Thomas John asks if there is someone with a “N-name.” Rose asks if he is talking about a child or grandchild, and he responds that it could be. Rose responds that her brother has a child with a “N-name.” Thomas John then asks if SHE is close to Rose and how old is she. He has singled out that this person is a female, Rose said that they aren’t close but she would be in her thirties. He didn’t go any further with this. No idea why the spirit would want to send a message to someone Rose isn’t close to, but who knows it could have been a pretty important message. Next Thomas John says this and I’m going to quote it directly so you can see for yourself how vague this statement is, he is getting “a Mary from the other side … do you have a aunt, grandmother, or great-grandmother?” And Rose does have a Mary from all those women: it’s her mother’s mother. Incredible. 

When we found the obituary a few minutes later, we see that Rose is mentioned along with two female N-names. The obituary also mentions that there are “various nieces and nephews and great-grandchildren,” which is a big group of people to be able to select from for a N-name.

Thomas John says that they are telling him something about a job change or that someone in the house Rose lives in is having a job change. Rose validates that by saying that she is herself trying to get used to a job change; she is trying to transition to working from home. Bingo. 

There was this interesting exchange Thomas John’s sister Kelly had with someone in chat. They wanted to know if their nine-year-old daughter could attend Thomas John’s classes because she can see spirits. Kelly’s answer was “if she is okay with it and doesn’t get scared and can sit though it, then that’s fine.”

I think that is enough with this Zoom reading. He appears to be doing these weekly, sometimes with guest mediums and/or healers. We will continue to attend the events and report back to you all under the Operation Lemon Meringue name. 

I’m really surprised that more people aren’t suddenly discovering they are psychic mediums during this horrible economy with millions unemployed. The articles I’m writing give all the instructions someone can use to mine social media and websites like Intelius, Ancestry, and Legacy for hits. I suspect that it takes a special kind of person who can make grieving people cry by just reading their social media posts back to them. There must not be mirrors in Thomas John’s home. 

Susan Gerbic

Affectionately called the Wikipediatrician, Susan Gerbic is the cofounder of Monterey County Skeptics and a self-proclaimed skeptical junkie. Susan is also founder of the Guerrilla Skepticism on Wikipedia (GSoW) project. She is a Fellow of the Committee for Skeptical Inquiry, and writes for her column, Guerilla Skepticism, often. You can contact her through her website.