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Protecting Yourself from Psychic Scams



This blog posting is a profile in high-risk behaviors that should make you cautious. It does not mean every person that meets some of these characteristics has malicious intent!


My background includes online fraud investigation, Behavior Profiling of terrorists and cybercriminals as well as experience in Cognitive Security (Protecting the mind from information based attacks)


We are seeing a significant increase in social stress from Covid, crime, social media and political and social division. This has led many people to seek answers to things happening in their life and what may happen in the future.


Many people turn to Psychics, Fortune Tellers, Readers etc. in order to get to these answers. This blog will discuss how to safely work with these people while reducing the likelihood of being scammed.


If you decide to use a Psychic, Fortune Teller, Reader, etc. here are some questions to ask yourself before you start:

  1. Do you trust this person with your personal information? Why or Why not?

  2. What is your goal or desired outcome of this session? If you don’t know what you want to get from the session, it will be very hard to know if your goals are being met.

  3. How much are you willing to spend on the session? Do not let anyone try to get you to spend more than you are willing or able to spend.


Be extremely cautious of people who:

  1. Contact you saying things like "They are drawn to you", "They have a message for you", "They feel like they have a connection to you"

  2. Offer services from regions known for significant fraudulent activities.(.e.g. Western Africa, the Former Soviet Union, the Indian subcontinent, Israel, Jamaica, etc). Not everybody from these areas is a fraud but fraudulent activity is very common in theses regions. Strangers contacting you through social media from high-risk areas should be viewed with caution.

  3. Start asking you for inappropriate personal or financial information. This is often an attempt at social engineering

  4. Are aggressive about you accepting their service. They will try to bully you into accepting their services.

  5. Tell you something is “free” and then demand you give them money.

  6. Tell you that you are ‘Cursed’ but can remove it for a "fee". This is always a scam.

If you are thinking of using a specific reader, some things to look for:

  1. See if they have website. It at least shows they plan to be around a while.

    1. You can check the history of their website HERE.

  2. Ask if they have a Business license. A license at least shows they are a real business.

    1. You can check Washington Businesses HERE.

  3. Ask if they have professional licenses required for your state. A counseling (or related) license would be a great indicator of legitimacy.

    1. Washington has very strict laws around providing counselling type services. You can check on someone’s credentials HERE.

    2. Often they will say “for entertainment purposes only

  4. Do they accept credit cards online and in person? (Never pay for anything with a debit card). This allows you to dispute a fraudulent charge. Paypal and similar pay services are also evidence of legitimacy.

  5. Ask them about their background. Does it sound credible? Would you buy other services (e g. Heath or financial services) from someone who made similar claims? Is it very heavy in unverifiable claims? (e.g. They claim to have studied with the Dali Lama)

These recommendations don't necessarily prove the person is honest or competent, but it helps reduce your risk of being defrauded.


COLD READING


You should also look for evidence of COLD READING before and during the session:


Cold reading is a set of techniques used by SOME UNETHICAL mentalists, psychics, fortune-tellers, and mediums. A practiced cold-reader can quickly obtain a great deal of information by analyzing the person's body language, age, clothing or fashion, hairstyle, gender, sexual orientation, religion, ethnicity, level of education, manner of speech, place of origin, etc. merely from a quick conversation. Cold readings commonly employ high-probability guesses, quickly picking up on signals as to whether their guesses are in the right direction or not.


If you are in session, recognize common Cold-Reading techniques:

  1. Using many props to set the mood and reinforce belief in the person’s supernatural powers.

  2. Speaking in general statements that could apply to anyone. (i.e. “I see you are here because you are concerned about the future”. “You feel people are not treating you fairly”)

  3. Paying significant attention to your clothing and mannerisms.

  4. Guiding the session to cover certain of the most common topics people ask about including: Relationships (family and romantic), Money and career, Health issues.

  5. Tell you the success of the reading depends on you. Let you know it's up to you to piece together and make sense of the information they are conveying.

  6. Encourage you to do most of the talking to provide the reader the maximum amount of information.

If you believe you have been scammed:

  1. You can dispute the credit card charge: https://consumer.ftc.gov/articles/using-credit-cards-and-disputing-charges

  2. Report them to the FBI: https://www.ic3.gov/

  3. Report them to the Federal Trade Commission: https://reportfraud.ftc.gov/#/

  4. Report them to the Better Business Bureau: https://www.bbb.org/scamtracker

  5. Reporting scams in Washington State: https://www.atg.wa.gov/scam-alerts

References on this topic:

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