Tuesday, June 9, 2015

How Do They Do It?

I know, the answer to that question is "by being total huckster con artists," but it still never ceases to amaze me how much money some fake psychics are able to bilk from their clients. Huffington Post has a story up today about a New York man who was apparently scammed out of more than $700,000. That's not a typo - I didn't accidentally hit a couple of extra zeros in there. It's almost three quarters of a million dollars. Meanwhile, real practicing occultists like myself make due with a couple thousand a year in book sales.

While I have neither the inclination nor the people-reading skills to go into the fake psychic trade, and I make a lot more money at my day job than I ever could as a legitimate occultist-for-hire, the difference in earnings between the real and the fake seriously does amaze me. Now it is true that this particular faker is in the news because she went overboard and is being charged with fraud, but still. Had she been a little less greedy she might have gotten away with it.

The 32-year-old Brooklyn man told police he consulted Delmaro in August 2013 who told him that evil spirits were keeping him from a woman he claimed to love and wanted to be with who did not share his same affections, The New York Times reported.

In a statement he and a private investigator presented to detectives last month, the man said that the 26-year-old psychic told him that he and the woman, Michelle, were "twin flames" being kept apart by negativity. Delmaro told him spirits talked to her, so he made multiple payments to her over 20 months, he told investigators.

According to the man, those payments included $80,000 for an 80-mile bridge she said would trap evil spirits into another realm, a $30,000 Rolex she claimed would cleanse the sins of his past and $40,064 for a Tiffany diamond ring to "protect his energy," along with other payments totaling as much as $40,000.

The man— who has not been identified in court documents —told police he had spent hundreds of thousands of dollars before finding out in February 2014 that Michelle had died. But, the man wrote, Delmaro said she could be reincarnated.

More payments and a trip to seek out the "new" Michelle followed before the man said he decided to go to police. By then, he said he was out $713,975.

This is a case where I think the whole Skeptic movement may just be making things worse. They out a lot of phony psychics, but the problem is that since they think the paranormal is bullshit they also don't want anybody knowing about genuine occultism. If this guy had any idea how magick works, he never would have fallen for a lot of this nonsense.

The original New York Times article details some of what the psychic apparently told him. Besides the appalling state of occult awareness among the general population, it also clearly shows that being rich has little to do with beings smart, or even possessing critical thinking skills.

Ms. Delmaro told him the trouble had come from a spirit that was stalking him. She needed $28,000, then $28,000 more. Michelle had grown cold so suddenly, he thought, that the spirit explanation sounded right, and so he paid. A month later, Ms. Delmaro suggested they perform a fake funeral ritual to make the spirit think the man was dead. Another $40,000.

When that didn’t work, Ms. Delmaro said she needed a time machine to go back and cleanse his past. When the man balked, she said a suitable watch would do the job, and gave him a list of choices. He said he selected one of the cheaper ones: a rose gold Rolex for $30,000.

In December, Ms. Delmaro said that they had to lure the spirit over a bridge of gold in the other realm, so that it would become trapped. She said $80,000 would buy an 80-mile bridge. Sold. Ms. Delmaro, it should be noted, promised to return most of the money when her work was done. By year’s end, the bill had reached more than $320,000.

What?!? None of that makes any freaking sense at all. The first really big red flag is the requirement that the items employed be expensive. I've never had much luck with retro-enchantment myself, but if a spell calls for a watch a Timex will generally work just as well as a Rolex. And I've never heard of any practice involving an "80-mile bridge of gold" to lure a spirit. That's just bizarre.

You actually would want a proper containment structure and a standard conjuration, and you'll get the best results if you can enlist the aid of another spirit with appropriate attributions and powers. And none of that costs $80,000. A real magician would have the containment structure on hand, and while the allied spirit will generally do its best work if you make offerings to it, their monetary value has little to do with their effectiveness.

Unless, of course, you're a phony psychic and are looking to sell them and keep the cash. The other red flag is that the psychic told him he was under attack by evil spirits, which is a classic confidence game. Spirits can attack people, but competent practitioners should be able to get rid of them relatively easily. Often simple banishings and uncrossings will do the job for a lot less time and money than this psychic demanded.

Aleister Crowley once wrote that people were far more inclined to accept fake miracles than real ones, a perspective that strikes me as excessively cynical. However, when I see stories like this one, I sometimes can't help but wonder if he may have been right.

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