Not all psychics, astrologers or fortune tellers are scam artists. Some will be up front and say readings are not to be taken too seriously. The most ethical fortune tellers won’t even take money for readings because it would give them bad luck. For example, in Wicca, fortune telling is encouraged, but also to never charge money for it.
Scam artists infect all trades, but seem particularly pernicious with fortune telling cons. The fortune telling scam has been with humankind for centuries and easily adapted to first the telephone and then the Internet. Perhaps the most famous victim of such a psychic scam was guitar god Eric Clapton, as revealed in “Clapton: The Autobiography” (Broadway; 2007.)
Where Fortune Telling Scammers Hang Out
Back about 1997, psychic scammers made their own web pages and sent out spam emails in order to reel in suckers. Now, most fortune telling scammers don’t even bother with spam or websites anymore. They lurk around many social networking sites and frequent dozens, if not hundreds, of web forums, social networking sites and chat rooms. They also hang out on P2P network sites because their usually isn’t a moderator or malware security software.
Scammers can take a long time to reel in their catches, but leave bait in many places. They can choose forums or social networking sites devoted to many diverse interests, including pets, cancer support groups, addiction sites and sites devoted to sports or celebrities. They may even get brazen and go to sites devoted to the occult or to neo-paganism, but people on those sites are usually so familiar with the scam that not many people take the bait.
What to Look Out For
The first sign of the scam is someone – perhaps someone who has been on the forum for months – offering free fortune telling readings. These could be Tarot cards, astrology, Egyptian cartouche, runes, inkblots in water – whatever. These may be done on the site, but usually they wind up going to email. The first readings are very hopeful, very friendly and sometimes downright silly.
So then you get more readings – whether you asked for them or not. These readings gradually get scary and then downright dire. You may be at risk of an upcoming broken heart, job loss or death. This could be due to a curse, to “bad karma” or for no specified reason. In order to avid the foul fate that awaits you, you need to keep on having the fortune teller do readings for you – this time at a price.
So You Refuse
Here’s the kicker. Even if you have refused to pay for readings, you may be too late. In the previous emails or attachments sent to you, malware was placed onto your computer. Unless you have very good security software, the malware has already been doing its work – usually sending all of your personal information to the scammer, but it also could just mysteriously crash your computer, making you lose valuable files.
Fortune telling scammers know that most people will balk at paying for fortune telling readings. So that is why they offer a free reading and then lay malware such as Trojan horse into your computer so that they get what they want, whether you are willing or not. Some scammers are just into the scam for the sick joy of destroying people’s computers. But many more use it for identity theft or even blackmail.
The best way to avoid internet fortune telling scams is to gently refuse all fortune telling requests. There are so many free (and safe) fortune telling sites (which just use random image generators) that getting a reading from an actual human being online is unnecessary. After all – it’s just for entertainment purposes, isn’t it?
“Wicca For One: The Path of the Solitary Witchcraft.” Raymond Buckland. Citadel Press; 2004.
“Clapton: The Autobiography.” Eric Clapton. Broadway; 2007.
Crimes of Persuasion. “Fortune Teller and Psychic Scams.” http://www.crimes-of-persuasion.com/Crimes/InPerson/MajorPerson/psychic_scams.htm