If you believe in psychics, don't fall for these tricksters: Internet Scambusters #851
Psychics are people who claim to see the future and the past, but sometimes all they want to see is your money.
In this week's issue, we have the opinions of investigators who identify the signs that give away a supposed psychic as a fake.
Whether you believe in psychic powers or are just curious, learn how these tricksters operate and what to look out for.
Let's get started...
Curses, Spells and Other Fake Psychic Tricks
Everyone has their own view on whether people who describe themselves as psychics really do have extra-sensory skills.
But there's no doubt that some of them, at least, are real fakes, passing themselves off as fortune tellers, seers and clairvoyants or claiming the ability to contact people on the "other side."
According to Bob Olson, renowned author, psychic investigator and host of Afterlife TV, many people have been scammed out of thousands of dollars by frauds.
Olson, a former private eye, has spent the past 20 years searching for evidence of life after death.
He identifies two main types of psychic scams: so-called curse removal and spell casting.
With curse removal, fake psychics prey on people who visit them regularly. They get to know their victim and, especially, their vulnerabilities and their finances. Then they pounce, warning about a curse, which they claim is causing all the problems with their career, their relationships and so on.
These frauds then demand hundreds or thousands of dollars to remove the curse. If they're online, they ask for the money to be wired to them so they can never be traced.
"I just want to say there is no curse," Olson advises. "There are no curses, and they don't have the ability to remove them." People can't put curses on others, so don't believe it and don't fall into the fear, he adds.
Spell-casting scams are a little more difficult to root out, though. In some cases, they can be seen as the reverse of curse removal.
The frauds claim they can somehow magically make a person behave in a certain way -- for a fee, of course. They supposedly can heal relationships, get you that job, and so on.
Olson says he doesn't agree with any type of spell-casting, though he argues some genuine (as he sees it) psychics might use the phrase to refer to an individual setting intentions about what they want to happen.
"We can set out desires out into the universe and hope that our spirit guides, the universe will help to create the life that we desire, the life that we're imagining and asking for in those intentions, and that's completely different," he contends.
Beyond the tricks he outlines, there are all manner of other psychic fakes -- like those who fish for victims' personal details then feed them back later as though they're mind reading.
They also may ask leading questions like "Who has cancer?" when most people are likely to know someone who is suffering from the disease. Only if the psychic tells you something precise they couldn't possibly know could they be regarded as plausible.
Watch out too for generalizations like "You're at a crossroads." Who isn't?
And when they keep saying things that aren't right, you should challenge them, pointing out that they're wrong. Fakers will tend to get flustered or angry, insisting they're right and you're wrong.
Another person dedicated to identifying the fakes and scammers is Alissa Monroe, who runs website Psychics 4 Today. She says she lost hundreds of dollars by using frauds and now wants to help others avoid the same mistakes. So, she set up her site to provide advice and reviews.
"Unfortunately, the fact of the matter is that there are many psychics out there falsely offering promises and predictions that are baseless and will never come to pass," she says.
She lists 8 suspicious signs of a fake:
- Claims that you were someone famous in a previous life.
- Saying there are issues for which you need a more advanced (and costly!) reading.
- They tell you in vague terms what you want to hear about your love life, so you keep coming back for more.
- They try to frighten you, such as warning there are dangers ahead, calculated to make you return.
- Claiming you're cursed -- as we've already described above.
- They ask too many questions, so they can later appear to know more about you.
- They seek vulnerable-looking people in public places and pretend they've been sent with a message or a warning.
- They talk in generalities, saying things like "You've been worried lately" or "You have a loved one who has passed."
Monroe says young and middle-aged women are most vulnerable to these tricksters, along with lonely, unhappy people or those struggling with personal or financial problems.
"There are real, reliable, legitimate, trustworthy psychics out there who are looking to help their clients - not scam them!" she adds "You just need to know where to look to find such services and get the best results possible."
The starting point is to look for networks that work to test and review psychics and provide feedback on others' experiences.
Here at Scambusters, we make no claims either for or against psychism. But knowing how to identify the rogues may save those who want these services to save their money and their hopes!
Alert of the Week
Flat tire in a parking lot? Watch out for a "Good Samaritan" who points it out and offers to help you.
While he's doing that (and he, of course, deflated your tire in the first place) an accomplice will try to steal items like phones or wallets from inside the vehicle.
Decline their offer. Call for roadside assistance. Or, if you really feel it's genuine, lock all your doors before accepting assistance. Just open the trunk for the spare and then watch closely.
That's all for today -- we'll see you next week.