Thursday, February 24, 2005

Psychic "curse" scam warning

I have noticed a distressing number of stories coming through lately about the tired old "psychic curse" scam, and figured it was time for another warning. I find it incredible that people still fall for this horrible scam, but I guess some folks are trusting and desperate, and it is awfully tempting to think you can buy a magical way out of your troubles. Unfortunately the only thing you buy with these scams is more trouble.

The latest story I posted to Psychic News involves a woman who was told that she needed to bring a so-called "psychic" $5,000 to have it cleansed of a "curse". Of course the "psychic" disappeared with her money.

If any "psychic" speaks to you of "curses", and offers to remove them for a huge fee, or suggests you "loan" then money to have it "psychically cleaned", grab your pocketbook and head for an exit. I would tell such a person that I don’t believe in curses, but I do know a scam when I hear one. If I had not yet paid, I would not offer to, I would just leave. These individuals are not psychics, they have no magical powers, or they would not have to resort to fraud to suppliment their incomes.

If you are at a psychic fair, and something like this happens to you, report the incident to the fair management. In most big psychic fairs you will be refunded any money paid, and the reader will be fined or expelled. The promoter has an interest in running a "clean" psychic fair, and will want to know if anyone is "scamming" this way. It is fraud (it is often called "bunko"), and it’s against the law. "Curses" are nothing but a prelude to an escalating series of demands by the reader who will charge to remove them. Of course the curse is purely imaginary, but a client’s life can become a living hell if you choose to believe in one.

One psychic told me a story of a local client who went to a reader who convinced her that her problems with romance were caused by a "curse on her love life". Years ago, a national TV talk show exposed such scams, complete with magic tricks to show the client how "evil the curse was". There would be a hairball inside an unbroken egg to prove a client was cursed. As silly as this image seems, two of the clients taken for a $10,000 ride were well-educated urban professionals. In a vulnerable, highly emotional state, it can be easy to convince even educated professionals that they have been "cursed".

When the client ran out of money, the psychic suggested that she be allowed to use her Visa card to pay for her "services". This woman was not "cursed" at all. When helped to see that her problems with relationships reflected a co-dependency problem, I am sure she began the road to recovery. Deep issues like co-dependency or adult child difficulties cannot be cured by a magic wave or gesture. A serious person must seek out competent help, and be willing to work things through.

There are other scams, "blessed" candles that sell for outrageous amounts of money (anything over $30 unless the candle is huge, or is an art-piece), "exorcisms" and other questionable practices. Many practices that I might consider fraudulent at worst, or useless at best, are held in high esteem by some of my colleagues, but you can bless your own candles, and you should learn how to clear the energy in your home yourself. If you feel that you need these services, try to find them on a donation basis, or at a reasonable fee. I would want to pay a psychic for her time, and I would judge how much time it takes to "clear" a space, and pay her at the same rate as her readings. If you wish to pay more out of the goodness of your heart or gratitude that is one thing - if you feel you have to because you are afraid she will "curse" you, that is something different altogether.

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