June 2, 2021 – Astrology, tarot, and other psychic services is a big industry. It’s estimated to be worth $2 billion and scammers, of course, know an opportunity when they see one. The Better Business Bureau is warning citizens to watch out for scam psychics who use social media to find victims. BBB Scam Tracker has received reports from people who paid for readings and other services but never received what they were promised.
How the scam works
The online scam starts when you follow a social media account that posts frequently about astrology, tarot or a similar topic. You then notice the content creator offers personal astrology and psychic readings, so you book a session. After selecting a time and date, you’re directed to pay using a digital wallet app. When the time comes for your session, the psychic is unreachable. Unfortunately, when you ask about a refund, they block you or simply disappear.
One consumer reported their experience booking a tarot reading on social media.
“[The psychic] takes payment up front and frequently misses readings,” they wrote.
Then, after requesting a refund, the psychic “yells at you, claims to not know you, tells you [they] have too many emails to respond to and eventually blocks you without refunding.”
Complaints about no-show psychics are the most common version of this scam reported to BBB Scam Tracker, but the BBB is encouraging people to watch out for variations. Consumers also reported seeing phony reviews or being pressured into paying additional services. One victim reported losing $3,500 to one such scammer.
“She gets you to come back by saying she will do healing meditation to get rid of the evil spirits,” the report read. “She pressures you that you need to give her cash/money to ‘cleanse’ the evil spirits or to use for the meditation.”
BBB suggestions: How to avoid social media psychic scams
- Evaluate the seller’s social media profile. Look for someone who posts frequently, responds quickly, and clearly displays and describes the services they provide.
- Read the comments on their posts. Disgruntled customers sometimes comment on a seller’s posts to inform potential customers about their poor experiences. However, this is not a foolproof way to tell if you’re dealing with a phony seller since comments can be deleted or hidden.
- Check for clear appointment protocols. A trustworthy professional will have a streamlined process dictating how they book appointments to ensure they do not overbook themselves.
- Get everything in writing. Sellers should provide written confirmation of your purchase, the charges, relevant appointment details and instructions on what to do in event of a cancellation.
- Look out for red flags when paying. For example, one consumer told BBB a seller insisted they pay via a digital transfer app, and they were required to label the charge as a friends and family payment. This circumvents safeguards in place that could otherwise protect consumers from scams.
- Understand what you’re paying for. Look for a clear explanation of services and prices, so you know exactly what you’re getting as part of your service.