SANTA CRUZ > Who is to blame when, thousands of dollars later, your fortune has not come true?
If someone promised to improve “your karma” and “your personal relationships,” would you sign up for their services? What if you were told that you had to pay thousands of dollars before seeing any results?
The Santa Cruz District Attorney’s Office reported in November that a local young woman made that gamble and came out of the deal feeling scammed. After shelling out $19,000 in a matter of three months, she realized that perhaps the psychic she was seeing was not exactly authorized to do such things.
The woman reported the incident last month.
Robin Gysin, the Consumer Affairs Coordinator for The Santa Cruz County District Attorney’s Office, tells GT the DA’s office received an additional complaint from one of the woman’s friends, who reportedly paid $30,000 in cash to the same psychic.
Gysin says it is hard to gauge how many locals may have encountered similar situations.
“Generally people have a reluctance to report when they have been victimized in this way because they are embarrassed, or they have a hope that all the things that the psychic promised them will still come true,” Gysin says.
In the case of the two women who issued complaints, Gysin says, “the psychic threatened them with bad luck. They tell customers, ‘If you tell anyone about what I said, it will not come true.’”
The complaints, which called the psychic's authority into question, raise another question: whether anyone is actually authorized to do psychic readings and tell fortunes.
Certain professions, like medicine and law, require that its practitioners be authorized to practice in the country.
However, there is no recognized, standard method of testing and screening for psychics in the United States.
California Psychics, a business that chooses and hires psychics to practice through the company, says on its website that these psychics are carefully chosen. “Only two out of our 100 psychics who apply to California Psychics meet our strict criteria with regard to accurate predictions, compassion, and a professional demeanor,” the site reads. “This means you can trust our psychics to come up with the best information that helps you enhance your life in all areas.”
Even though the company intends to provide customers with trustworthy psychics, there is no indication that the company is nationally recognized as certified to provide such certification.
In fact, on the Terms and Conditions page of the California Psychics website, they state that their services are “for entertainment purposes only” and that “our psychics make every effort to provide you with helpful advice.”
The site goes on to say, “this information should not be used in place of any recommendations by medical, legal, or financial professionals or other professional counselors. It is your responsibility to evaluate any information, opinion, advice, or other content available through California Psychics.”
Then, there is The American Association of Psychics, which also seeks to license “professional” psychics. Their website asks that applicants be ethical, honest, professional, and have integrity. The company’s media contact, Rosemary “The Celtic Lady,” declined to give GT an interview.
With no nationally recognized way to authorize psychics in the United States, it remains up to the clients to determine how much faith to place in the services.
On the FAQ page of the California Psychics website, the answer to “Why didn’t my prediction come true?” includes some interesting insight: “Be aware that knowledge changes outcomes. Also, due to free will, the timing of many things can change. If a psychic sees a particular date, anything you do after talking to that psychic can still change your fate. A simple shift in your thought can change the outcome of any situation. A change in any of the parties involved (thoughts or actions) may change the outcome of a situation. Since we are unable to control other people’s thoughts and actions, a psychic may only be able to base a prediction on your current state of affairs and state of mind. Predictions are based on an assessment of the energy around your situation.”
In short, any predictions they make can change once you finish your session with them, and their advice can become invalid the second that they say it aloud. It’s the way the universe works, after all.
A local Santa Cruz psychic who has been practicing in the city for more than 20 years, and wishes to remain anonymous, agrees.
”Everyone has free will and they don’t have to take the advice if they don’t want to,” she says. “A lot of people seek guidance and help from different angles of their life. If they chose to follow a psychic’s advice, that was their own free will.”
After informing the psychic about the recently reported complaints and concern about scams, she was unsympathetic toward the woman who reported that she spent $19,000 on an empty promise. “That’s what she chose to do,” she says. “A psychic cannot guarantee anything in life.”
”As a psychic, you help tell people about their lives,” she continues. “They come to you as a spiritual life coach. We [psychics] don’t go to them, they come to us.”
The November press release from the DA’s Consumer Affairs Division warned residents about potential scams involving psychic, fortune teller, and palm reading businesses advertising low rates.
The City of San Francisco has taken measures to ensure safety for those who plan on visiting psychics by requiring these providers to register with the police, as some practice under fake names. According to Gysin, there is no such ordinance in Santa Cruz County.
In order to avoid a scam, Gysin advises: “Don’t go to a psychic or fortune teller. Some of them are good at convincing customers to give more money for good fortune, but psychics aren’t real.”
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