Earlier this week, I wrote about journalists exploring the secret world of fraudulent street psychics in Toronto, Journalists Take A Look Into Toronto’s Fraudulent Psychic Industry.
This article is a continuation that talks about how people from different backgrounds can fall prey to these scammers.
The victims of these types of scams are very diverse. There’s no single type of personality that gets taken advantage of more than others. The journalists discovered that the victims included women and men of different financial standing, careers, races, and cultures.
The only thing they shared was an overwhelming feeling of desperation. This desperation is what led them to spend so much money on these psychic scams. All names have been changed for reasons of anonymity.
26-year-old Amal is a sales professional from Toronto. She started visiting a street psychic in 2007 when she was a teenager and saw the psychic for five years until she got into York University. The psychic then began demanding that Amal give her her OSAP funds.
“My parents are from the Caribbean and we grew up around superstition. I grew up hearing about these things. I’m a very spiritual person and I do believe there are people who have gifts and can tap into things. People use it for good and people use it for bad.”
“She just wanted money all the time to do all of these things and it didn’t make sense. She talked about selling me $800 candles she would light and pray for me. I said, ‘Are you insane?’”
Samantha is also a sales professional and is in her thirties. She comes from a Guyanese community in which many believe in some form of black magic. For this reason, seeing a psychic wasn’t unheard of for her.
What Drove Samantha To Pay The Psychic Thousands?
Samantha was desperate to revive a relationship and, in her attempts, turned to a total of three separate psychics in five years starting in 2007 and ended up spending almost $9,000.
Two of those psychics both told her the same thing; that she had a curse on her and that the man she loved did want to be with her, but the curse was keeping him away, and also that a different woman wanted to be with this man and it would happen if she didn’t act quickly.
One psychic wanted $1,700 in a payment plan, but the other was way greedier- she wanted $6,600! “I was very desperate and so in love. I struggled and made the payments. They ask for money for candles and incense to remove the darkness around me. I would pay a couple of hundred dollars at a time,” she says.
The journalists also spoke to a woman named Marian, a stockbroker in Toronto who had a string of bad luck in her life.
She was in seven car accidents between 2010 and 2012, lost the position she had had at her job for thirteen years at a central bank, got divorced from her husband, and watched as both her children became gravely ill.
By the time she visited with a fortuneteller from Mississauga who told her she was cursed, Marian was so willing to believe it. Her response to the psychic was “of course.” Between 2008 and 2014, she spent about $5,000 on six fortunetellers.
Marian always considered herself a devout Roman Catholic and was eventually convinced that the cause of her problems was all things “occult.” She burned her tarot cards, swore off fortune-telling, and even booked a flight with her sister to Vatican City in search of an exorcist.
Too Little Too Late For Marian
Unfortunately, this all happened after she’d already been scammed by psychics and taken for a lot of money. One of the psychics Marian visited told her, “You’re afraid of what’s going to happen next. You live in fear. And, at that point, you look at how to rescue yourself.”
She sold Marian a package that would rid her of her curse, including candles, an amulet, and special bath salts for $1,000.
The last victim I’ll discuss is a 30-year-old high school teacher named Anthony. Anthony and his girlfriend broke up about five years ago, and he ended up throwing away about $2,500 on a psychic shortly afterward.
It all began with small fees here and there for readings that progressed to hundreds of dollars for things like prayer candles. Before he knew it, it got so bad that it looked like a scary movie in the shop, and he realized he needed it to stop these visits.
“There was this girl I liked. Things fell apart and I wanted her back. He did a prayer thing over this water before I drank it and then told me to look up and gargle with it. I did what he told me.
But when I spit on the piece of paper, there were all these insects. It grossed me out completely. Centipedes and crawling bugs… I was just like, ‘That didn’t come out of me.’ He said, ‘Yes, it did.’ His reaction was like I was going to die. He said I was cursed.
When I wasn’t looking, he obviously tossed these bugs onto the desk. Then he asked me for money to lift the curse- $2,500. I never got the girl back. I’m embarrassed to talk about it now.”