Consumer Alert: Fortune Tellers Cannot Curse You, Do Not Give Them Your Money

Two fortune-tellers in Chicago are in being held in jail in lieu of $750,000 bail each for defrauding customers by convincing them they were cursed, then selling them expensive curse-removal/protection services. Remember, folks, fortune tellers cannot curse you, see your future, turn you into a werewolf, or make you lose horrific amounts of weight. They can, however, take your money.

Police said the couple used the business to prey on the misfortune of people who came to get cards read.

“Tracy Tan would convince the customers that they had a curse on them, and that she was the only one who could fix their problems,” police said in a news release.

“During this ‘counseling,’ she would charge her victims thousands of dollars for her services and products, which provided them with a false sense of hope.”

Back in college, a friend interviewed for a job as a phone psychic. She met with the town’s local celebrity psychic for a brief interview, then was given a script that guided her through various ways to increase the amount of time the customer was on the phone. As far as psychic abilities, she was told to simply talk to the customers, as they usually just needed some advice, and otherwise to improvise any fortune-telling. What amused us was how the woman didn’t even pretend to make the job about the paranormal—it was explicitly a “keep them talking any way you can” business.

“2 Naperville-area tarot card readers accused of ‘curse’ fraud” [Chicago Tribune] (Thanks to Tim, who wrote, “Yeah, the ultimate blame the customer story. Enjoy.”)
(Photo: xurble)


Edit Your Comment

  1. ucdcsteve says:

    Maybe they can share a cell with Miss Cleo.

  2. bigdirty says:

    Wasn’t this an episode of Law and Order CI a few years back? Except their was a murder and money, not just money.

  3. Benstein says:

    The headline for this article is priceless. Well played.

  4. forgottenpassword says:

    if you go to a fortune teller NOT just for the novelty aspect….. I think you deserve it when you get scammed even more!

  5. B says:

    At first I thought this was about the fortune tellers cursing at the customers, not cursing the customers.

  6. Parting says:

    You should go to a psychologist. These can listen to your problems, too. However, they can also suggest a solution :)

  7. KenSPT says:

    Some people believe in the Catholic church, and they may truly feel that a St. Christopher medallion could bring them good fortune in life. If they chose to pay $750 for said medal, could it be considered fraud since there is no scientific proof that it brings the owner good fortune?

  8. Parting says:

    @B: He, he! Good one.

  9. Toof_75_75 says:

    Wow, I can’t imagine giving away thousands of dollars for “psychic protection services”…Spitzer’s in, though.

  10. ChChChacos says:

    If you’re gullible enough to even go to a fortune teller, then maybe they’re really not at fault, they are after all doing their job.

  11. MercuryPDX says:

    Add to that: Talk to your dead realtives with the use of special candles/herbs you need to pay for. I just posted about this on i09.

  12. Parting says:

    @KenSPT: 750$ ? Is it 20k gold? I mean I saw medallions from metal for 3-6$ … If its from precious metal, you can consider it as a long term investment.

    If economy crashes, you can rely on your jewellery to bail you out of a tight spot.

  13. plustax says:

    @KenSPT: That was the same thing I was thinking. I remember growing up with the fear of a curse by satan on me if I didn’t give 10% of my money to the church among other things I had to commit myself for the church out of fear of comdenation. As a kid that scared the jebus out of me. I guess if you think about it that is not too far away from what these folks did minus the tax exempt status of course.

  14. HOP says:

    saint christopher has been knocked off the active list…he can no longer protect you….i agree with your thoughts…….

  15. MercuryPDX says:

    @ChChChacos: I only half agree with you. If you consider psychic phenomenon as a “belief system”, then people are just as gullible for believing in your major religion of choice.

    It’s not wrong that people want something “sure” to believe in in an “unsure” world, but the willingness of others to exploit that belief for cash is still wrong.

  16. plustax says:

    @HOP: NFW, saints can be benched?

  17. mike says:

    @chouchou: and charge you a whole lot more for it too.

  18. MercuryPDX says:

    @plustax: Yes, dependent on whether they actually existed as a person. If there’s no historical reference, they’re marked as a legend and benched.


  19. SoCalGNX says:

    We all know that curses can only be removed by paying a divorce lawyer.

  20. Parting says:

    @sohmc: Not in these cases ;)

  21. JustAGuy2 says:

    Rules to live by, #324:

    Never trust a psychic with an answering machine.

  22. BloggyMcBlogBlog says:

    Wow, I live a mile away from there. I didn’t think anybody was that stupid to fall for these clowns.

  23. Pro-Pain says:

    Two words. Stupid people.

  24. IrisMR says:

    @KenSPT: True. “Psychics” often play the religious card, like Sylvia Browne. It’s totally a matter of faith, since they keep babbling you can’t disprove them. But a faith that asks for your money is nothing good. Better just keep to your regular god and pray to him in your bedroom.

    …maybe Christian Psychics should read what the bible thinks of diviners…

    PS: That said, I can’t pity the idiots that got fooled by this fraud. COME ON!

  25. jeff303 says:

    Naperville? I thought you guys knew better.

  26. Jim says:

    @KenSPT: That’s why you need an accompanying Infant Jesus of Prague medallion.

  27. hi says:

    Wait… I can pay to get rid of my curse?

  28. SexierThanJesus says:

    @Pro-Pain: “Two words. Stupid people.”

    I sure hope you’re not a churchgoer. That would make you a hypocrite.

  29. PirateSmurf says:

    So I am not a werewolf? OMG I am so relieved!!! Now I dont have to eat people anymore :p

    Its people like this that give humans with actual talent a bad name.
    Scamming has been around and the people that are for real are the ones that have to wear the label that the scammers create.

  30. unklegwar says:

    If this isn’t a case of Stupid Consumer, I don’t know what is. Idiots deserve what they get (or get taken for).

  31. se7a7n7 says:

    The only time I went to one of these was the first time I visited NYC.

    The sign outside said “$5 palm reading special” which is what I wanted. The woman lists off a few options and prices including the $20 palm reading… But the sign says $5 I tell her. That is only on Sundays she replies… So being much younger at the time, I went for the $20 reading.

    She throws out a bunch of vague educated guess fortunes like “Your true love is very far away”, obviously I looked like a tourist at the time so that was a very safe bet.

    Then at the end she tells me that I have this curse against me that has been following me around and if I work with her, and give her $5,000, she will help me…
    I laughed out loud and said “are you crazy, I don’t even have $50?!?!?” Then she asks how much I could afford.

    I was able to talk her down to $4,500. Just kidding.

  32. bigtimestuff says:

    There’s a place near where I live in Greenpoint and I’m always tempted to go in just for fun, but I’m afraid that they’ll try to sucker me into paying for more than just a $5 palm read. Not that I think I’ll fall for it, but I would hate the awkwardness of being like, “No deal, weirdy.” I kind of…don’t feel so sorry for this kind of gullibility, but I can imagine feeling sorry for these people if they were just super passive-aggressive. Yikes.

  33. RoxnSox says:

    Hah! My fortune teller told me you were going to post this. I knew she was worth the money!

  34. Snarkysnake says:

    And just how are these people different from business consultants ?

  35. Beerad says:

    @Snarkysnake: More neon, basically.

  36. trujunglist says:

    I predict that you will go to jail and spend many days brooding over what has been argued above! I predict that you will attempt an appeal based on those grounds and be denied! I predict that you will not enjoy the lunchtime meal of a cheese sandwich and fruit juice!

  37. moviemoron says:

    $4500??? Isn’t that what the New York Mayor paid for sexual services? Maybe they are one in the same…
    Anyways, I don’t see it as fraud. If you are that dumb to fall for that scam then power to the psychics. They aren’t coming to you, you are going to them. If they can give you a sales pitch that makes you buy their “product” , there is nothing wrong with that.

  38. speedwell (propagandist and secular snarkist) says:

    @MercuryPDX: The bar isn’t all that high, though. Even Buddha is a Christian saint. Seriously. St. Josaphat is what he’s known by in the Catholic Encyclopedia. Josaphat is a Latinized garbling of the name “Bodhisattva.”

  39. Shannon says:

    Who cares about the crime committed by the psychic… I think it’s the people that believed they were cursed that should be fined. Seriously. Dee Dee Dee.

  40. Christovir says:

    Psychics serve a purpose… they help disempower the foolish, a force of social and economic natural selection.

  41. krunk4ever says:

    it was explicitly a “keep them talking any way you can” business.

    Isn’t that exactly the same idea of phone sex?

  42. Cap'n Jack says:

    I could have sworn that 60 Minutes or HBO or someone did a report/documentary on this last year. Typical scammage. “Fortune Tellers” have been doing this for many, many years.

  43. theysaidwhat says:

    @Cap’n Jack: So have pastors in all those made-up, televised ‘megachurches’. And their members keep swinging elections to the far right. Interesting contrast there.