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 Frankenstein's monster.
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 emperors.
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 dispute that?).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 good luck.
Some victims have participated in these scams for more than a decade!
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 following:
- 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.
Learn more about lottery scams on our site.
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 week!