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 How to Predict Psychic Scams

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Registration date : 2009-01-28

PostSubject: How to Predict Psychic Scams   Thu Feb 26, 2009 1:00 am

By Tania Padgett

Psychics and mediums may be in hot demand, but a shrill chorus of naysayers warns that many of them are out to snow you.

It was only four years ago that Miss Cleo, the infamous television infomercial psychic who promoted psychic hotlines for two Florida corporations, was exposed as a fraud in a series of lawsuits and blaring headlines.

Although she was put out of business, more scam artists have stepped into her wake, investigators say.

Most so-called psychics-mediums are "ruthless charlatans or self-deluded incompetents," said Wendy, author of "The Naked Quack," a book she self-published in 2000.

"Only one-tenth of 1 percent of all those who claim to be psychic are," she said, basing her conclusion on 15 years of research.

Frauds use many techniques to make people think they are getting information from "the other side" when they are actually getting it from the clients, said Wendy, an artist and self-proclaimed "master" psychic who lives upstate. Wendy requested that only her first name be printed because of threats she said she has received from scamming psychics-mediums angry about her book.

She described one popular technique used by scam artists called the "spritz," in which the psychic fires off a barrage of questions hoping that one or several will resonate with the client. The client often answers the questions and the psychic then feeds the information back to the client, Wendy said.

Another trick? Frauds often call out letters, claiming that they can only hear the first initials of the names of people who have departed. The client, once again, fills in the blanks and the fraud takes credit for "accurately" providing the dead person's name.

"Most of the time people wind up giving their own reading," said Wendy.

Frauds also get information on their clients by researching them on the Internet or hiring a private detective to find information on them, she said.

James Randi, a former magician who has spent decades debunking claims of the paranormal, doesn't believe that any psychics are real.

"I haven't met an authentic psychic or medium yet," he scoffed.

Randi rose to fame in the 1970s challenging the spoon-bending feats of Uri Geller, but has since turned his blistering skepticism on celebrity psychics-mediums Sylvia Browne, John Edward and others.

"Browne can write - and sell - more books about nothing than anyone I know," writes Randi on his James Randi Education Foundation Web site.

He dismisses Edward as a "mediocre cold-reader," or someone who uses guess work and a person's body language to do readings.

Randi, who was awarded the MacArthur Foundation "genius" award in 1986 for his investigations, is so convinced that psychics-mediums don't exist that he is offering $1 million to anyone who can prove their claims under scientific testing.

Browne announced on "Larry King Live" in 2001 that she would take the challenge, Randi said. "She has yet to take it."
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