Let me preface by saying that there are plenty of genuine, spiritually-gifted people out there who serve their communities faithfully. There are people who perform miracles. But those people are rare, and in a sea of eight billion souls, they're not easy to come by.
Sadly, the spiritual industry is an unregulated, multi-million dollar business. It can be a harsh landscape for those who don't know how to navigate it. Here's a list of five red flags to help you identify when you might be getting scammed, as well as some proactive tips to keep in mind before seeking services.
FIVE RED FLAGS TO IDENTIFY SCAMMERS
1. Sliding in the DM's
"Hey Darling, I feel so connected to you. I'm receiving messages from your guides that you should hear, would you like a reading?"
Has that ever happened to you? It shouldn't, but it often does.
There is an unspoken rule amongst legitimate spiritual workers never to solicit or coerce people into services. That includes being cold-approached in public, despite what TLC and certain bob-haired mediums might have you believe.
Advertising and online promotion of our businesses is one thing, violating your consent is another. We wait for you to come to us.
Layering is a tactic used to keep unsuspecting clients on the hook for as long as possible. First, they'll draw you in by offering a free service like a 10 min meditation session. This first free service is usually the scammer's true talent. Many will be impressed enough to then buy a service. That service will inevitably reveal a problem, like a divination session that informs you of a curse.
But don't worry, they've got something that'll clear that right up... or so they say. This cycle will go on for a while until they offer you a last-resort service that's very expensive. Layering will keep you coming back and, in time, cost you thousands of dollars.
Trustworthy spiritual workers will always be clear about what they're doing. They'll try their best to offer you a comprehensive solution. If multiple sessions are required, they'll explain their reasoning ahead of time. Spiritual work is not reactionary - if someone keeps moving the goalposts every time you seem to approach a finish line, RUN!
3. Scare Tactics
Scare tactics seem to be going out of fashion but you should still be mindful of them. Unscrupulous scammers will have no qualms about playing on your fears and desperation. These charlatans will rope you in with shock value, telling you that you or a loved one are in danger. Miraculously, they're also the only person around who can solve this problem for you. Isn't that just so convenient?
This kind of scam becomes downright dangerous when they prey on those suffering from illness. There's no disease, no disorder they won't claim to cure. Sadly, desperate victims sometimes suffer serious consequences as a result of their misplaced faith.
Compassion and empowerment are the cornerstones of any trustworthy spiritual worker's practice. We want our clients to feel secure enough to make their own choices. We take pride in the trust we build and that includes being honest about what we can and can't do as healers.
4. Spirit Bombing
Spirit bombing is a newer tactic that takes its cue from the domestic abuse tactic of love bombing. Like love bombing, it is a technique used to flood the victim with an exaggerated sense of self-worth, in the hopes of creating a dependency. Common examples of spirit bombing include:
-Telling someone they were special in a past life, which makes them special today
-Telling someone the reason they feel like an outcast is because they have otherworldly ties. This could include things like being descended from a spirit or an extradimensional being.
-Telling someone they are "chosen" for a great destiny
These and many other sugar-coated lies are readily doled out to many an unwitting victim. We all have an innate desire to feel unique, and spirit bombers prey on this exact trait. Sadly, these techniques are especially effective on young people, who are still forming their identities and have an even stronger desire to shine.
The best way to avoid falling victim to this scam is to ask yourself what's in it for the person telling you these flattering things. Are you "descended from a god" only they can communicate with? For a fee? Just follow the money.
Imperatives combine with or apply to all of the other red flags listed above. An imperative is a "must" situation like "The spirits are telling me you must get initiated, and you must do it immediately!" The problem is that the urgency seems to vanish as soon as your check clears.
Imperatives can often present themselves as a kind of peer pressure, whether that's actual peers or metaphysical ones. Spiritual workers who are acting in good faith will allow and encourage you to follow your own journey, at your own pace. If a ritual is deemed necessary, or even urgent, it's always still presented as a choice - specifically, as your choice.
TIPS TO CONSIDER BEFORE GETTING A SERVICE
1. Do your research
Be familiar with your local laws regarding psychics and spiritual workers. In most places, spiritual workers will be required to carry a "Doing Business As" (DBA) certificate number. They're also required to disclose up front that their services are intended for entertainment purposes only, and don't substitute medical, legal, financial, or psychological advice.
You should also research the business you are seeking services from. Do they have reviews? What is their online presence? What is their reputation within the community and do they carry any titles or certifications in the work they offer? Looking into these kinds of things beforehand can help you get a better sense of the business and the people behind it.
2. Don't give yourself away
When seeking spiritual services in person, try to keep your appearance as general as possible. It's best practice not to wear distinctive items that might provide cold-readers with any information about you. Things like your favorite sports team jersey, unique jewelry, or tattoos with loved ones' names are all easy marks for experienced scammers.
3. Protect yourself online
When seeking spiritual services online, be sure your social media privacy settings are up to date. It's just way too easy for potential scammers to learn personal information they can use to pull the wool over your eyes.
If you want to be extra cautious, you can block the service provider from viewing your content and profiles until after the service is rendered. Most importantly, avoid giving details of your sessions if you're going to leave a public review of a practitioner's services. Spiritual scammers will do deep dive searches on their clients, including reading reviews.
4. Measure your words carefully
Getting scammed is a lot like going to court. You have a right to remain silent for a reason. Scammers absolutely live by the credo that anything you say can and will be held against you. Do your best to only provide the information that's required of you.
That's not to say you should just cross your arms and give us the stone face as soon as you sit down, either (I still get clients like this, and I can't blame them). It's ok to talk during a reading, and in fact, you'll at least need to be able to give yes/no verifications. Just know that scammers will try to bait you into volunteering information that they can then rephrase to sound like a revelation.
5. Create a record
Record your session. Either digitally, with pen and paper, or bring a scribe. Scammers don't like having their misdeeds recorded. You know, guilty conscience and whatnot.
Recordings are also important because some information may not make sense to you until later on, and it's good to be able to reflect on readings later on.
At the end of the day, your own intuition is often your best friend. If something doesn't feel right or sounds too good to be true, trust that instinct. Trust yourself. The right service provider will work with you to respect your needs and boundaries.
Fools rush in, so take your time to the right spiritual service provider. When you do, the experience can be life-changing.