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Fortune-telling fraudsters

Picture from Flickr Creative Commons

Gypsy witches and fortune-tellers in Romania recently received a blow to their earning power when the government passed a law forbidding the advertising of magic and fortune-telling services, including such traditional scams as curse removal, luck changing and the return of lost loves, as well as physical healing from serious illness such as cancer. There has been a long tradition of gypsy witches in Eastern Europe, and since the fall of Communism, so-called gypsy witches and fortune-tellers have flourished in what is clearly a growth industry, with many practitioners so successful that they live in six-bedroom mansions with Mercedes and BMWs in their driveways. The practices of hokkani boro (the great trick/deception) and dukkerin (a magical confidence trick supposedly designed for curse removal) have been practiced throughout Eastern Europe and Asia by different names, for centuries. Mostly by gypsies.

Unfortunately, these practises are alive and well in present-day Vancouver, and every day people have their money—if not their so-called curses—removed by a number of fraudulent readers who give false hope to people who are down on their luck and drawn into storefront fortune-telling parlours, which are decorated with neon hands and astrological symbols in their windows. At least once or twice every week I receive phone calls from people asking if I can change luck or remove curses. In many cases, the people who ask for these services are desperate, and these individuals would often be much better off investing in counselling services rather than in the false psychics out there who will rip them off for as much money as they might have in their bank accounts. I try very hard to inform people of the danger of visiting anyone who promises to remove a curse or change their luck for money. Confusion, which turns to paranoia, can cause some people to feel that they are at the mercy of forces they can’t control. A curse perhaps? This is what these evil readers feast on.

Picture from Flickr Creative Commons

In the last six weeks I have encountered four different individuals who have fallen prey to fortune-tellers posing as legitimate psychics. One of these women (they are nearly always women) paid $100 per chakra (28 in all) to clean her energy so her lover would return. Needless to say he did not. Even sophisticated people sometimes fall prey to these scams out of desperation. Victims visit these fraudsters every day, else the fortune-telling parlours could not exist in the high-rent districts, they now inhabit.

The downside is that honest psychics who are authentically talented and perform services that have real value for their clients, no matter how talented and ethical, are tarred with the same brush as the swindlers who specialize in false hope, fear and deception.

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