Yet again, the con artists claiming to be spiritual workers are up to their usual shenanigans in the Philadelphia area. I have been hearing a lot about a particular con artist in the area who has been charging clients of mine from $600 to $6000 for spiritual services.
To be clear, the American Tarot Association, the body of guidance for professional Tarot readers in the US has the following to say about Tarot and honesty:
“The ATA is disturbed when it comes across reports that Tarot cards have been used as a tool to defraud or take advantage of the public. The ATA fully supports the actions of law enforcement in the prosecuting of these individuals. The ATA does not condone the use of Tarot cards to identify nor remove "curses" under any circumstances.” - American Tarot Association
Sometimes it is rather hard to figure out which readers are the real deal and which are con artists. The scammers are really good at mimicking the style of legitimate readers. They certainly do their homework and at first might appear so wonderful so accurate so psychic, that of course everything else they say is true. I have put together a general guideline of what to watch out for below. May this never happen to you.
I hope that an experience with a scam artist does not color your opinion about all readers, should this happen to you. I believe there are far, far more ethical readers than not. That being said, these scammer readers can be quite visible to the public and can often be the front line for people wishing to have a spiritual experience. To wit:
Their website is often quite spartan, using only generic images and they do not provide a full name or photo of themselves
Often their website does not have a full list of services and charges but they spring the extra special services on your at the time of the reading. Additionally, their website never has a refund, guarantee or code of ethics clearly posted as is the guideline for the American Tarot Association. There may be some mumbly language of “certified”, by whom? For what?
Most ethical readers have a code of ethics, reviews, links to established psychic or tarot associations and so on.
They often (but not always) have a storefront and live in the same building.
This one is tricky because there are some amazing, ethical readers who also have bookstores and some do have storefronts.
I mention this, though, because every scammer in that I have heard about from others also has a storefront, too.
In general, a storefront with the big neon sign in the window should be a sign to get references, look at reviews and appraise with a critical eye before moving forward.
They are often either incredibly intuitive, or phenomenally good at cold reading techniques.
These con artists are incredibly, incredibly, good at appearing to be phenomenally psychic. Some are in fact very intuitive and will be able to immediately say things about you and your life that ring incredibly true. This is the initial hook. By using subtle sentences and being masters at body language they then begin to get a feel for how receptive you are, how easily you can be influenced, and they begin to think about what they can tell you and get away with.
Many of them are intuitive, but that does not mean they they are instantly good people. Many will use their intuition for tricking you out your money and have no compunction to use fear and psychological intimidation to do so.
Since many clients will intentionally under say something, testing the psychic, the scammer will expect this and use mentalism or cold reading techniques to “wow” the client. This is not an accurate test or measurement for psychic ability, much less an ethical reader. Even if the scammer can tell you what your Grandma was wearing on the day of your 10th birthday party, that doesn’t mean that they will be ethical, honest, or have your welfare and safety at the top of their list.
They use your fear to try to upsell you on services.
Once they believe they got a victim, they begin to upsell you on products. Sometimes they will begin small and work their way up. At first it might be a $40 candle that they, of course while you are not there, will pray over you to remove the negative energy.
Or they will have candles that they will use to create some powerful positive force into your life.
They will also tell you that they can attune your chakra (of course when they do… they will find some very bad energy on you) and then think up some crap to convince you to buy. While you are at home thinking this person has set up a special candle in your honor they are probably buying new bathroom accessories at Wal-Mart with your hard earned money. This website has an excellent page detailing how these scams operate.
My one caveat here is that there are Rootworkers who do in fact use spell work and candle work to help people with problems. These Rootworkers almost always have their services and fees clearly posted on a website and would never make up something about you in order to sell you products. The difference is that as a client you would go to a Rootworker to explain the problem he can help with. A con artist invents a problem on you that he can then solve...at a price.
The prices of those services change depending on how wealthy they perceive you to be and how willing you are to pay them.
Since their prices are not clearly posted anywhere, the price for their services changes depending on how wealthy they think you are. They will look at your clothes, your shoes, your purse, your jewelry to determine what they think you can pay.
They use fear and shame to keep clients from calling the police or their lawyers.
People are often ashamed or embarrassed to be seeing a Tarot reader, much less a reader who is conning them. It is out of this embarrassment or lack of wanting to get involved that allow this criminals to continue to operate. The police are unable to do anything unless people file reports, make waves and shine a big bright light on these unscrupulous people.
Additionally, some people might be worried that these same people will “curse” them or spiritually harming them by doing so. These so-called spiritual advisors have no power other than the power to con people out of money. If you find that this has happened to you, then speak to your local police department. You will not only protect yourself, you will also help defend other good, yet vulnerable, people who could be conned in the future.
Despite these Scam Artists, there are wonderful ethical readers out there. Please do not let one bad apple spoil the bunch.
It is unfair and sad, the amount of clients I get who are now suspicious, worried, frightened because these con men got to them first.
It is exhausting to constantly combat the stigma about readings and Tarot in general, it is far worse when that stigma is rightly placed because of con men who use Tarot as the shield behind which they do their nasty business.
The tri-state area is rife with these kinds of readers, like an infestation, they grow in the dark.
Only when we continue to shine a light on them to expose them do we begin to root out the problem.
By following these general guidelines, you can easily navigate and rise above the nasty game of using your heart and your emotional vulnerability to part you from your cash.
4/14/2014 12:57:09 pm
Thank you for this! These are very insightful guidelines. The fight against scammers is a constant battle and after 40+ years, it gets mighty tiresome.
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M.S. in Organizational Psychology and Leadership