The Psychic Scam –
A List of Eight Ways to Identify Fraudulent Readers
This is a list of ten ways to identify psychics, readers, and astrologers who may be fraudulent or at least incompetent. It is somewhat painful to write this article, because the vast majority of astrologers and readers I know operate in good faith and genuinely want to help their clients. But there is a minority of bad apples in this profession as in any other, and they cast a bad light on all of the good workers. Below is a list of traits you should apply to the readers and psychics whom you are considering.
There are a lot more bad astrologers out there than reasonably competent ones, primarily because people refuse to suspend their disbelief and keep sending them money. Due to the public’s ignorance of what they can expect from competent astrology, combined with easy access via the Internet, there is now far greater opportunity for incompetent or even fraudulent astrologers to inflict themselves on the public. This article seeks to help you protect yourself and your money from these individuals.
Let us examine the individual species of this rather noxious genus. Many bad astrologers will have more than one of the attributes below.
1. The Door-to-Door Salesman.
This is an excellent indicator of the competence of a given astrologer. The nice thing about identifying the hard sell is that you can see it in any setting; on the Internet, in person, or over the telephone. Also, this is something that will be apparent very quickly, before you actually have to shell out any of your hard earned money. The reason that bad astrologers do the hard sell is because they have to keep new blood coming in since they don’t get a lot of return business, and also because they are greedy. It may also be some kind of strange psychological compensation, since they know they are not very good. All people in the service professions have to promote their services, but the manner and extent to which this is done will be a big tipoff as to the quality of service you can expect to receive. Go with your gut on this one – if it feels like the New Age version of a vacuum salesman’s pitch, flee.
- On the Internet, the website will often constitute a protracted advertisement for the astrologer’s services. The general format will be practically indistinguishable from a website selling vitamins, cheap mortgages, and other forms of snake oil. There will often be a profusion of pictures, flashing, twirling graphics and other devices designed to hypnotize you into paying them a lot of money. This is the Internet equivalent of the storefront psychic with a million neon signs in the window.
- Some astrologers using the hard sell are more subtle, and have rather tasteful websites, but it is rather apparent that their main goal is to sell you things rather than educate you or give you anything for free. Anything given for free will be of poor quality, automated, and/or very limited in scope. The website as a whole will be heavily geared toward telling you how amazing they are, through testimonials and general off-the-charts levels of hyperbole. There will often, though certainly not always, be intrusive/loud advertisements on the site.
- In person, you will get a lot of hyperbole, but it may be combined with intense one-on-one discussion of how spiritual you are and how you are at just the right time in your life to move to the next level spiritually. If you have the bad judgment to reveal any of your actual difficulties to this person, they will promise you heaven and earth to fix your problems through their amazing consultation.
- Over the phone, the situation is similar to the information you would get in person, but, assuming you have contacted a phone psychic/astrologer, special rules apply that you can read below. In sum: hang up now.
Other tell-tale signs of the hard sell: time pressure, and other psychological pressure that makes you feel bad about yourself or makes you want to act impulsively for the risk of losing a "good deal."
Finally, no astrologer can:
- help you win the lottery (if they could, they would have won it for themselves and wouldn’t have to do anything, including astrology, for a living),
- fix your life with no effort on your part. Whether this is supposed to be done through psychic, magical, or medical means, if you do not have to put an extensive amount of time and effort into remedying your situation, it isn’t going to work. This includes helping you get your lover back, make you more attractive to other people, and generally making all the things that you did wrong suddenly better.
Imprint the following in your mind: If the astrologer advertises on Google, just head in the other direction.
2. Dr. Feel Good.
You probably will not be able to identify this one until you had a consultation with the astrologer and spent your money. However, once you see it in practice, you can develop something of a nose for it and avoid other astrologers who do this. These are the astrologers that affirm everything that you do. Of course, they’re particularly seductive and effective because none of us really want to believe we have done anything wrong. Our spouse didn’t walk out on us because we cheated on them, but rather because they were insensitive. We didn’t lose our jobs because we were lazy and practically lived at the corner bar, but rather because our boss hated us. These astrologers are very happy to play into the fantasies of ourselves that we have created. There is an old-fashioned word for this: flattery.
After the consultation is over, you will feel a strange sense of emptiness, or alternatively, nausea, much like eating a tub of ice cream for dinner. Both the consultation and the ice cream share an important characteristic: empty calories. This is because these astrologers are extremely adept at mirroring back to you whatever you are saying, without really giving you any concrete predictions, answers or specific advice.
3. Dr. Freud and Dr. Jung.
This is the astrologer who wants to analyze your psyche, regardless of whether he or she is actually licensed to do so or has had any formal education from a reputable school. These astrologers will typically have a lot of the elements of #2 above, but it will be packaged in sophisticated and specialized therapeutic vocabulary. They attempt to marry therapy and astrology, with the result that they do not do either particularly well. I would suggest going to an astrologer if you want astrology, and to a credentialed therapist if you need therapy. If you insist on mixing the two, I leave you with three words: demand rigorous credentials.
4. The Bigot.
This one is surprising, given that most astrologers are considered somewhat outre in mainstream society. There are a few astrologers out there who will treat you, the client, badly because you’re not of the right color, gender, social class, national origin, and all of the other categories on which people are not supposed to discriminate. Heaven forbid you happen to be gay, living in an unorthodox relationship of any kind, or are anything other than a straight WASP living somewhere northeast of the Tommy Hilfiger/A&F/Ralph Lauren catalogs. Again, you probably will not be able to detect this until you get your reading. Suddenly your astrologer proclaims all of your relationships or endeavors will end unhappily, etc., without being too specific as to the reason, but also without asking for more money to fix it (which would make them a con man/woman; see items 7 and 8 below). They disapprove of you, and are passively-aggressively taking it out on you in your reading. And you are paying them for the honor.
5. The Closet Incompetent.
You will very often encounter these astrologers at entertainment functions, but I have spotted them in many other settings as well. One experience springs to mind where a party host hired an astrologer, who proceeded to go on a well-known website that provides free canned horoscope interpretations and read the stuff right off of the screen to adoring clients/partygoers. All this while being paid several hundred dollars for the night. If you happen to have any passing acquaintance with astrology and the astrologer says something really outrageously wrong (“Aquarius is a water sign”), or if your astrology reading suddenly feels a little lightweight, feel free to hang up or walk out or close your browser right then and there. Anything else is wasted time and money.
6. The Guru.
These people are very easy to spot, because they charge exorbitant amounts of money, and are very difficult to see due to their large followings. This does not mean that popular astrologers are all gurus, it’s the whole combination of identifying factors that makes them such. In consulting with them, you will encounter an ego the size of a small country, and unless you go along with their script, you will be summarily cut off. The gurus have taken the art of theatrics to a whole new level, and you will likely leave their presence wanting to give them all your worldly possessions and proclaim their amazing powers to the world. However, when you actually consider what they have done for you in terms of practical and verifiable predictions or advice, you’ll find that they come up short.
7. The Psychic or Clairvoyant Astrologer.
Any astrologer who claims to predict using psychic powers, intuition, or clairvoyance is pulling your leg and probably setting you up for a con game. Personally, I am a great believer in the ability to see the future and seemingly unknowable information via psychic means. So take it from me that when you do astrology, you cannot simultaneously be doing clairvoyance. You are either analyzing the symbols in front of you on the page from an astrological perspective or you’re seeing the future clairvoyantly. These are two separate things.
More to the point, most astrologers who advertise themselves as a combination psychic and astrologer are usually con men or closet incompetents (#5 above). These are largely, but not always, the same people who advertise on Google and in the back of your local free newspaper, right next to the sex hotlines. Alternatively, their beatifically smiling faces can be seen in New Age directories. Pseudo Native American shamanism or something similar may be involved with the more sophisticated types.
A subset of this type of astrologer is the phone psychic astrologer. These people are neither psychic nor astrologers, but they do read from scripts, and the very best have lengthy scripts memorized that they recite in just the right way, down to pauses and intonation, to get you to reveal information about yourself which they can later make seem as though it came to them from the ether. If they are really good and really greedy, they will do a confidence game on you of varying types, generally leaving you hundreds and sometimes thousands of dollars poorer.
Personally, I find this species of astrologer (if they can be called that) fascinating, because of the amazing uniformity that their patter follows.
Read this letter from one well-known Internet fraudster:
http://www.oooarrr.cx/sara.freder/mails/Sara%20Freder/0700.html. The main characteristics to observe, that are common to all psychic con men/women are:
- The assertion that you are cursed or bewitched and this is responsible for your bad luck (this is extremely important as an introduction, as it leads to shelling out more money to remove the curse).
- Your problems are weighing on you and are making it nearly impossible to proceed (establishing the client’s trust – who does not have problems?).
- You have been betrayed by someone you loved (who hasn’t?)
- Your moods range from optimism to pessimism (whose don’t?)
- You are entering a period of great love, wealth, etc., but are at a critical juncture where you could still lose it all, so…(oh, no, what shall I do?)
- SEND MONEY NOW! (sense an overarching theme here?)
The person behind this particular scam is said to be a man called Jean Christophe Maires living in Rambouillet, France. Enough said, non?
8. The Semi-literate
If you run into an astrologer whose advertisement or website is consistently misspelled or looks like a text message, I can almost guarantee you it’s a confidence game. This is because these websites are thrown up (pun fully intended) very quickly with the intent of making a quick buck, after which they will shortly vanish. I don’t know why fraudsters often cannot spell, but they can’t. Maybe because if they could spell, they could get a real job. It’s one of the signs by which they identify themselves to the unwary, I suppose, something like Lucifer’s odor of sulfur. They cannot help but reveal their true nature.
So, how do you find good astrologers, and what is considered a good astrologer? You can read about what you should look for in a good astrologer in this article.