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A Psychic Scam

May 19, 2010

The CartomancerI recently read a blog post by Digital Dame called “Faux Psychics” that reminded me to warn people about a common “psychic” scam.  I doubt that most of you reading this blog would fall for this sort of scam, but I think exposing / discussing it is important anyway.  So tell all your friends, okay?

The important point made in the indicated blog post can be summed up in this quote:

… when someone says you have a curse on you and they can lift it for large sums of money, this is a sign unto you that your hair just caught fire and you should be running out the door screaming. You do not, repeat, DO NOT have a curse on you.

Although the news item mentioned in that blog sounds incredible, I have heard more than a few stories much like it, and it always appalls me. And I’m talking about first hand accounts that I’ve heard — not just rumors or news articles. Some people have told me that they just laughed and walked away when a “psychic” tried to work this scam on them, and that’s a relief.  But one guy I talked to was really worried that maybe he did have an evil spirit haunting him, and I had to work a little to convince him that this was bull$hit.

So here are a couple of danger signs to look out for so you can avoid even being confronted with scams like this.  (If anyone reading this has other danger signs, please feel free to leave a comment about it.)

First:  If a “psychic” has a storefront (which costs a bit of money) but still offers cheap readings (like “Readings — only $10”) and doesn’t have a line of customers out the door, how do you think they make enough money to stay in business? They put on a scam like this. Now, I’m not talking about someone who has set up a chair and a small table on a boardwalk somewhere.  They don’t have the overhead of a storefront, so they can offer $10 readings and cover their costs.

Second:  If you go for a reading and ask if a friend can sit in on it and the “psychic” refuses, that may be a bad sign.  (When anyone asks me that, I tell them that I don’t mind, but it’s up to the person getting the reading.)  You see, it’s hard to pull this sort of scam when there is someone else listening to it.  On the other hand, I do understand that some readers legitimately feel that a third person being present might inhibit the free flow of the reading.  So I think that this is not quite a red flag, but I’d at least call it a yellow flag.

I mentioned in the comments section of Digital Dame’s blog that this sort of thing is reprehensible and it gives us legitimate readers a bad reputation.  She responded that:

Sadly these are the ‘readers’ who get press, and it gives the impression that all readers are like this. Hopefully reputable readers speaking out against these types will prove otherwise.

This is quite true, and it’s good advice.

ADDENDUM 1:

A Facebook friend of mine, Oephebia Stars, commented:

Regarding the paragraph about having someone listening to the reading, I always refuse because you never know what a reading can unravel and it can be embarrassing for the person. Also I may pick up things from the “listener” too.   So to avoid confusion, I always say that since the reading is recorded on a CD, it is up to the querent to let their friend listen to the CD or not.

This is a good point.  The fact that Oephebia records the reading for the querent means that she has allowed a virtual observer.  I was referring to the fact that a shady reader will not want witnesses … or recording devices… so allowing recordings covers this.

ADDENDUM 2:

8/20/11: I just found another great article on this topic. It discusses a few of the more common fake psychic scams.

Does anyone else reading this blog have experiences relevant to this topic?  I’d be interested to hear them.

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From → Ethics, Readings

10 Comments
  1. I have a favor response to folks who ask me if as a Psychic, I can remove a curse. “If someone tells you that you are cursed and you believe them, they are right. You are cursed with gullibility.” I used to say “Stupidity” but too many people got insulted. As a psychic who just happens to be a witch, I wonder why people assume that they are the same thing. I can hear/see/smell/feel what is not apparent to others. Why does that mean I can affect the Cosmos and change fate? As a psychic I am just a reporter of what I see/hear/sense. As a witch, I know a curse does nothing if I don’t allow it the power to hurt me. I agree, these sort of scams really do misinform the public and make my job needlessly more difficult. But is there a better way to convince people it is a scam?

    • Great response.
      I just wish that news reports on such things would have a bit of balance. Perhaps they could include an interview about the scam with someone who does readings ethically.
      Best,
      James

  2. I have someone trying to scam me right now. I have asked her to take me off of her mailing list so she quit for a while. She started up again so I blocked her. She has no idea I am a reader too.
    Thanks James,
    Bev

  3. Thanks for the shout-out, James 🙂

    I saw an article the other day on another one of these, in Colorado. Pyschic Doesn’t Foresee Her Fraud Arrest

    It would indeed be nice if once they would talk with a real reader/psychic, not a con artist claiming to be one.

    • Oops, misspelled “Psychic” in the link

    • Oh good lord. And here I thought the usual “$500 to get rid of your evil spirits” scam was bad. I can hardly believe that someone gave this woman over $200,000 dollars!

  4. Thanks James, That was a valuable piece of advice. I too dabble in Tarot cards. This was some years back in London when i just strolled into a psychic stores and it was relatively empty.. This lady came up to me rather weirdly dressed and said I can see a lot of tides coming on you… You must get your cards read and I can give you this crystal all for 300 Pounds and all will be well… I just looked at her and said I much rather leap from “the tower and face the devil” than get ripped off by you…

  5. Hi James

    My response to this sort of thing is usually “superstition is for the superstitious”. It usually doesn’t go down very well (people don’t get it or feel insulted) so I guess I should try a different tack.

    Blessings
    Helen

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