Psychic sued for false claims

October 13, 2021

Categories: Skepticism , Tags: Psychic, Scam

It seems ridiculous, but a man in the US is suing a psychic (opens new window) he asked for life advice. The psychic, Sophia Adams, told customer Mauro Restrepo that his marriage was at risk because of a "mala suerte" (bad luck) curse placed on him by an ex-girlfriend. For only $5 grand, she was willing to lift the curse and save his marriage.

It seems that Mauro only paid the first $1,000 dollars, but ended up suffering from insomnia and anxiety as a result of the worry caused by the psychic’s prediction. He is suing the "Psychic Love Specialist" and self-proclaimed "PhD Life Coach" for $25,000, with charges of "negligence, civil conspiracy and both intentional and negligent infliction of emotional distress".

I wonder if he’s suing because of his embarrassment after he realised he’d been conned by a professional trickster into handing over money. After all, this is a common trick used by psychics to take someone’s money. The initial consultation might only be $50, but when a ruthless psychic sees that there’s money to be made, they will often scare people into thinking there’s something wrong in their life that’s causing them bad luck.

In this case, it was this fear of a curse having been used that caused Mauro to worry and pay money to have his problem fixed. But the con can be so much more blatant than this, and people still fall for it. Psychics often tell their customers that their money is cursed, and that only by withdrawing their funds from the bank and having it blessed by the psychic that the curse will be lifted. There are too many stories of unsuspecting victims handing over thousands and thousands of dollars to a psychic - of course this money is never seen again. The psychic will either deny they ever received the money, or in some cases for a large amount will shut up shop and move away.

It’s bad enough that psychics charge ridiculous prices for a service where they lie to customers about a magical ability they claim they have. But when psychics go beyond their extortionate $200 an hour fees and start taking thousands of dollars from people, that’s a special kind of awful. In this country, all we have to protect unwitting members of the public is a law (opens new window) which says that says that "mediums" need to have an "intent to deceive":

16 Acting as medium with intent to deceive

  1. Every person is liable to a fine not exceeding $1,000 who, acting for reward,—
  2. with intent to deceive, purports to act as a spiritualistic medium or to exercise any powers of telepathy or clairvoyance or other similar powers; or
  3. uses any fraudulent device in purporting to act as a spiritualistic medium or in purporting to exercise any such powers.
  4. For the purposes of this section, a person shall be deemed to act for reward if in respect of what he does any money is paid, or any valuable thing is given, whether to him or to any other person.
  5. Nothing in subsection (1) shall apply to anything done solely for the purpose of entertainment.

This is obviously not enough to protect people from scammers. Proving intent is hard, and a disclaimer that a psychic is just offering their trade as entertainment looks to be enough to cover them legally.