Fortune Tellers

What It Is
A crime designed to financially exploit a victim under of the guise of providing assistance. It involves gaining the victim's complete trust and, then through carefully managed manipulation, convincing the victim to give valuables to the suspect or suspects. Victims of these cases are of any age and background and share a common trait of seeking help in solving a problem in their life. Problems generally fall into three major categories: love, money, and health.

How It Happens
They may be clever, but they cannot predict the future. The offense starts off innocently with a 'reading' for a nominal fee. The suspect may use a method and props such as:
  • Coffee grind reading
  • Crystal ball
  • Dice
  • ESP psychic reading
  • Palm reading
  • Religious icons
  • Sand reading
  • Tarot cards
  • Tea leaves reading
  • Etc.
During the reading, the reader elicits information from the victim, using both verbal and non-verbal clues, and then repeats it back in such a way as to reinforce the fact that the reader does, in fact, have certain powers. 

If they find out that you have money, they may explain that it takes time to help you. They tell you, for example, that you have cancer and that there is a big curse to be lifted for the evil spirits to be driven away. The curse removal can be carried out in one short operation or more generally is carried out over a period of months and sometimes years, taking all of the victim's liquid assets. When these assets are used up, some offenses continue by having the victim obtain more money though the use of their credit.

If you believe that they are helping you, they persuade you to come again and again, charging more and more money each time. If you don't watch out, they may also steal money and valuables from you, or they get you to play a switch game. If they are afraid the police may investigate, they and their families simply move away, overnight if necessary.

How to Avoid
  • If you have a problem, just talking with a member of your family or with a trusted friend will help a lot. If necessary, you can consult a clergyman, lawyer, counselor, or doctor.
Additional information about this scam may be found on the Gypsy and Psychic Scam webpage.