Cults in the Charedi world?
To my great surprise Mishpacha magazine (Hebrew) had a long article about cults in the Charedi world. They describe how charismatic individuals who seemt o know kabbala suck people in and take charge of their lives. They detailed how a Rosh Kollel got sucked in by a charismatic leader who spouted kabbala and seemed to know things about the Rosh Kollel. The leader then proceeded to take command of the Rosh Kollel's life in terms of decision making, all decisions had to be run by the leader etc. and of course the leader found ways to extract money until his family extricated him.
The writer of the article asked the obvious question, how is this different then Chasidim (or today even non-Chasidim) who ask the Rebbe before making any decision and of course contribute financially to the Rebbe? The answer given was not very satisfying to me and leaves the question very much open to me.
Take a look at the picture below of the Satmar Rebbes vacation villa in Miami Beach Florida. Keep in mind that Kiryas Yoel is the poorest town in the United States.
Also take a look at my post The richest Rabbis in Israel. When you combine the money with the societal pressure to conform and stay in the fold (e.g. משמרת הצניעות), it is hard to see the difference.