Are psychics and fortune tellers frauds?

Another Law School for You

By Paul Samakow via Communities Digital News

WASHINGTON, December 24, 2017: Psychics, or fortune-tellers, predict information about a person’s life. For most people, sitting in front of a psychic is for fun. The laugh is worth the five dollars. Unfortunately for some, the weak or vulnerable, consulting a psychic is too often a sure way to lose significant money and to be emotionally thrown down the proverbial rabbit’s hole.

Why don’t you remember this headline?

Psychics in person, online, or on the telephone, cheat people experiencing times of trouble in the areas of romance, money, and health. Those who are lonely, have undergone a recent romantic breakup, who have suffered a financial setback, who have been sued, are sick, or have sick relatives sometimes turn to psychics. They actually pay these frauds significant sums of money so that they can hear their future in the hope that their future will be better.

P.T. Barnum, of Ringling Brothers Barnum & Bailey Circus fame, is widely credited for his understanding of this phenomenon. He summed it up in one famous statement: “There’s a sucker born every minute.”

Millions consult psychics, mediums, palmists, card readers and others who claim supernatural abilities to predict the future every year. In one 2009 study, the Pew Forum found that in that year about 1 in 7 people reach out to psychics or other types of fortune-tellers.

Regulation of psychics

While virtually every part of our lives is regulated in some way, it is shockingly surprising that these fraudulent psychics are not as regulated as one might think. Laws governing fraud exist in every state. But few states actually have laws addressing the scams perpetrated by psychics and their like.

Regulating an industry that calls itself supernatural is challenging. Particularly one that claims it is beyond the understanding of modern science and one that has no educational requirements. Yet these fortune tellers charge, often heavily, for their services.

Some psychics claim their services are a religious activity. They claim their earnings are similar to donations made to other religious organizations, i.e., not taxed. Others offer that they are entertainers. They even post disclaimers to shield themselves from any losses or injuries suffered by their customers who take their advice. Some rely on the First Amendment’s right to free speech.

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4 responses

  1. My mother’s sister was soft in the head. She always ran to those scam artists, and she always believed in everything they uttered. She died penniless. The last couple of years of her life she became a pack rat, because… Yep, you guessed it, the psychic told her something or other and believed it. A once very nice home turned into a cockroach palace.

    1. Wow! This kind of thing happens all the time with psychics. Some psychics are just delusional and they truly believe they have these abilities, but more often than not they know they’re frauds and they play on peoples’ vulnerabilities.

      1. Sad part of it is, my mother’s sister at one time was a sharp woman of the WW2 generation. Her husband, was USN on the USS Hornet when it got hit. He was classic WW2/USN guy, and became a tugboat captain after the war. He took me out of the gutters and brought me on the tug, where him and the crew taught me to work rope lines, oil and wipe engine room controls, and square away the tug galley and whole place with broom and mop. He kept his home as squared away as a barracks. After he died, cancer, the woman started going to “talk” to him through those phonies. A regular deal sometimes once a week, and they fleeced her. I warned her, because I saw creeps like that on the streets trying to get over, the con artists, but she refused to hear of it because they fed her “information and messages”, allegedly from my dead uncle, who would have knocked the shit out of them if he were alive. She became a kook. Soft in the head. Died alone, broke, and in squalor that she created. I asked to go with her, but the swami said that I only wanted to lock people up. They knew. In fact, I found out after she died, that two of them tried to close a bank account of hers a month after she died. Never caught them. They covered their tracks.

      2. PS: They knew the account, how much was in it, and how much social security would arrive and on what date. Some woman in a blonde wig and big dark sunglasses could not do the signature and the bank records had my mother as emergency contact. The bank called my mother, they literally ran out of the bank. They were never found.

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