Don’t Get Conned by These 3 Common Psychic Scams: Internet ScamBusters #255
In honor of Halloween, we thought it would be fun to do a
lighter issue on “psychic” scams.
In the spirit of the Halloween season, you may be tempted to
dabble in the “spirit world” by getting a psychic reading —
in-person or via telephone or email. But beware! Many
alleged “mystics” are nothing but scam artists.
Many people feel that simple tarot card and palm readings are
harmless fun. But in some cases, people have been scammed out
of hundreds — even tens of thousands — of dollars! And
that’s what we want to help you avoid.
Scammers “score” best with people who are emotionally
vulnerable — those experiencing personal or professional
problems, who need help and guidance.
Don’t be fooled by psychic scammers — regardless of whether
it’s Halloween or another time of year.
In this issue, we unmask the Top 3 Psychic Scams, and offer
tips on how to spot these common frauds faster than you can ID
However, before we begin, we first encourage you to take a
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Let’s get started…
“Psychic” Scammers See Money Troubles in Your Future
One of the oldest “psychic” scams began in ancient Greece at
the temple of the Oracle of Delphi. For over a thousand
years, kings and emperors consulted with the high priestess to
learn their future (at a temple conveniently located, some
say, over an area that emits intoxicating gasses).
In exchange for her services, royalty often paid the Oracle a
literal “king’s ransom.”
Not much has changed since ancient times — except that,
today, lots of average people fall for “psychic scams,”
sometimes losing more money than Greek kings and Roman
Many people feel that people who fall for these scams must be
genuine dumbbells, but they’d be DEAD wrong. Almost anyone
who’s down on his luck, a little desperate (or greedy), or who
wants to improve his lot can become a victim.
In addition, most fortune tellers start small — asking for
just a few dollars to give an initial “reading” — and then,
only when you’re convinced they’re the real deal, do they
start charging the big bucks.
The 3 Most Common Psychic Scams
Psychic Hotlines. This isn’t a scam in the sense that
it’s illegal, but if you dial a “900” number for a quick
astrology or tarot card reading, chances are the person
on the other end doesn’t even claim to be psychic.
Worse, some of these “psychics” are told to keep you on the
line for as long as possible, so you’ll rack up minute after
minute of costly phone time. The one thing we CAN predict is
that you’ll be startled when you receive your next phone bill.
Winning Lottery Numbers. Whether online or in-person, you
may encounter a psychic who “sees” that you have money
problems, or should be earning more (how many of us could
The answer to your troubles, she’ll say, is that you’re about
to win a lottery or that you should use certain numbers, which
she’ll provide, to win an upcoming lottery.
Hours or days later, you learn via email that you’ve —
miracle of miracles! — won a lottery you’ve never heard of,
or won an obscure “lottery” you entered with the winning
numbers given to you by the fortune teller.
(Naturally, the only reason you were contacted by the
“lottery” is because you provided the scammer with your
contact information, including an email address.)
These lotteries are, of course, fakes, and are usually
designed to elicit financial information such as a bank
account number, where your “winnings” will be deposited.
If you’re foolish enough to provide this information, your
bank account can be cleaned out.
You’ve Been “Cursed!” For the clever AND patient scammer,
this routine is THE biggest money maker. These scammers focus
on finding victims who are clearly distraught about a personal
or professional loss.
Typically, the victim will meet the scammer at her storefront
“psychic” shop or a street fair. It begins innocently — when
the patron pays a few dollars for a tarot card reading,
fortune telling or palm reading. But the “insights” spilling
from the psychic’s mouth sometimes convince the victim to
eventually spend thousands of dollars.
In most cases, the psychic tells the victim that he/she has
“recently faced a loss or separation of some kind.” (In the
victim’s mind, this could be anything from a failed romance to
a death in the family — including a pet — to a financial
reversal, and it also depends on how one defines “recent.”)
Often, the victim will then tell the scammer about this
“recent” incident — after which the psychic informs the
person that she must light special candles or perform rituals
that will remove the “curse” that caused the separation/loss.
Some victims have been told that money they’ve inherited was
“cursed,” and needed to be “cleansed” at midnight ceremonies
in cemeteries. Unsurprisingly, many fortune tellers are
apparently caught up in these curses and mysteriously vanish
with the evil money.
The bottom line: all of the “materials” and “procedures” the
psychic needs to rid you (or your money) of a “curse” require
HUGE amounts of YOUR money.
People have been known to max out credit cards, empty bank
accounts, and purchase flat screen TVs, theater tickets and
cruise ship vacations for their psychic “benefactors” in order
to convince the “spirits” to remove their curses or bring them
Some victims have participated in these scams for more than a
Now that you know what to look for, your task is MUCH easier.
But it’s still important to be vigilant. Watch out for the
If you want to have any kind of psychic reading, always ask
the price before starting. It certainly shouldn’t cost an arm
and a leg.
If a fortune teller says you have a curse, need a lucky
charm or should have special candles and/or prayers said for
you, don’t just walk away — RUN!
Don’t call a psychic hotline, unless you have money to burn.
Delete spam from any alleged psychic.
Delete emails regarding lotteries that you’ve never entered
or heard of.
If you want to get your fortune told, it shouldn’t cost you a
fortune. If it seems it will, then you don’t need a psychic
to tell you what will happen next.
Time to conclude for today — Happy Halloween and have a great