Name
Psychics

Aka
Fortune Tellers, Mediums, Clairvoyants.

Victims
Anyone with a belief in the spiritual

Crew
One or more

The Scam
Without sidetracking the topic of con artists into the existence of psychic and other supernatural powers let us begin by making the following assertions:
  • All psychic powers demonstrated can and have been duplicated by con artists, magicians and mentalists.
  • Psychics are either shut eye (believe in their own powers) or open eyed (knowingly deceive others about their powers). Whilst I have not once in my career come across a psychic with even close to convincing powers, this entry will focus on those who knowingly deceive. This encyclopedia does not go so far as to cover those who are conning themselves.
  • Psychic powers are yet to be duplicated successfully under close scientific experiment. Their nature is vague and insubstantial .

When a con artist claims psychic powers, the scam runs in three stages which may be repeated if the victim is willing. These stages may be combined or rearranged but all three stages will occur.

Stage One: The psychic proves their powers to the victim. This can include:-
  • Telling a victim facts about their life through hot reading. Using previously gained knowledge. e.g. Using internet search engines to find victim's details.
  • Telling a victim facts about their life through cold reading. Presenting common facts and traits as individual and unique. “I sense a John. Who is John?”
  • Performing an impossible feat of physicality. Swamis often claim walking on broken glass, hammering a nail into one's face etc. are proof of special powers. They are, in fact, side show stunts that can be learnt.
  • Have previous clients recommend the con artist. The previous clients are either confederates or previous victims who still believe.
  • Build the illusion of a history of success as a psychic through misleading advertising. "thousands of people have trusted our hand picked psychics"

Stage Two: The psychic provides a psychic service. This can include:-
  • Removal of curses (e.g. rubbing an egg on the victim)
  • Revealing information about the victim's personality (e.g. palmistry)
  • Providing advice as to how the victim could act in the future (e.g. tarot)
  • Tell the victim their future. (e.g. crystal ball gazing)
  • Providing unknown information (e.g. position of a lost person)
  • Holding a conversation with a dead person.

Stage Three: The psychic will solicit a donation
  • The victim will be asked to donate to the psychic.
  • The victim will have to give up an ‘offering’ of money to remove a curse. This money is 'destroyed' by the con artist who really destorys fake money.
  • The victim will purchase a lucky charm at high prices.
  • The victim will pay a set fee or per minute via phone.

Obviously, many psychics prefer to solicit the money before the second stage.

Again - please note that this entry refers only to con artists who claim psychic powers they know they do not have.

Variations
Variations of psychic scams can seen in:-
  • Marketplace readers.
  • Psychic hotline and internet sites.
  • Text message services.
  • Television psychics
  • Psychic systems and publications

Take
Psychic readings start at $20-$50
Telephone readers charge between $1-$5 per five minutes
Top level television psychics charge thousands of dollars for their services.

Keywords
Supernatural, short con, telephone, internet, magic

Created by Nicholas J. Johnson
Australia's Honest Con Man
www.conman.com.au