The Online World of Fake Psychics

The Online World of Fake Psychics

I predict this won’t end well…

As I’m sure we all know, the internet is a lawless wasteland, and of that lawless wasteland, Facebook is undoubtedly the Wild West. Traders on Marketplace asking for used diapers; updates from unhinged family members; more scammers than you can wave a stick at. Not only are these scammers numerous, they’re also creative as all hell. My favourite scam, one that I personally participated in as a bored and chaotic seventeen-year-old, was posing as an online psychic. 
Now although I may have spent hours online arguing on TikTok and Instagram comment sections under my real name, for my psychic business I tended to err on the side of cowardice. Creating an incredibly realistic fake profile requires a catchy name and an exotic location on the other side of the world. For me, this was the Emerald Isles of Ireland. 

Pro tip #1: Turn off your location when you post, or it’s gonna get real awkward. Going under the name Marcy Davis, a graduate of Communications from Trinity College Dublin and psychic extraordinaire, I arrived fresh faced, wide eyed, and ready to fuck around in the Facebook group, “Psychics, medium and Clairvoyant’s Ireland”. The grammar mistakes in the name of the group assured me this would be the perfect place to start Marcy’s promising psychic career, given her Communications degree was a bust. Soft launching Marcy’s psychic business was of utmost importance to me, so once accepted into the group I immediately posted an offer for free readings. 
Oh, how the requests flooded my DMs. Now, readers might assume that an account made ten minutes ago offering free psychic readings, with a banner picture that was one of the first three results to come up when you google crystals, would be a red flag. That Marcy only had three friends, all of which were other clumsily built fake profiles of mine should have been the nail in the coffin for this group of grown adults over in Ireland. I mean, mother, Christian, and widow Scarlett Pascoe and the others were hardly convincing, but they clearly did the trick. 

Pro tip #2: Have something connect all your fake profiles. 
All my ladies were proud graduates of, you guessed it, Trinity College Dublin. Regardless of the obvious deceit, the comments exploded and my inbox was chock full of requests for guidance from psychic Marcy. These people were like cats in heat, yowling outside my door. Unfortunately, recently seventeen year old me was the only one to answer. 
Now for privacy's sake, I will keep names anonymous and refer to those who messaged me as letters. Initially, it was incredibly fun and honestly very easy. One of my first DMs was from S. We ended up on the topic of soulmates, and I provided high quality information that was totally bullshit. 

S: I’m very content for the most part. I have my health and an amazingly supportive family but would love to meet a true soul mate at some point in the future and progress in due course with work.

Me: I’m not reading anything at the moment for work, but the green and yellow colours in that soulmate avenue are really standing out to me.
At the time, my lounge curtains were yellow and I was sitting on a green rug. 
S left happy and hearty, safe with the knowledge that her future soulmate would probably be some court jester character, and I moved onto the next person to make up more crap. At this point, Marcy had been operational for about two hours. So far, it had all been pretty light-hearted: people wanted to know general information, I gave them vague answers that they wanted to hear, that I would then tentatively link to information they had already mentioned. Mix it all together, mention the spirits and you’ve got a psychic reading. 

Soon, though, they were spreading word to their friends, and I was receiving more messages. Marcy started turning into a bonafide influencer, with her own version of like and subscribe: “No worries, let your friends know about me!”
Telling vague half-truths while fishing for more information is what real psychics do, in order to con more money out of people. Scummy, when you think about it, but neither Marcy or I were charging for these readings, and people were leaving happy, so how bad could it be? 
Well, as anyone could have predicted, that attitude did not last. My empathy struck me as hard and as suddenly as the fourth $3 vodka shot around four readings later, with T’s messages. 

T: Hi Marcy I’d love a reading if your drawn to me xx

Me: Hey! I can give you a reading! What’s a big life event right now?

T: Big event god wats not,,,, my partner whats another baby, I’m still struggling with the lost of my dad x

Me: I have to say… the fates can only do so much to guide us. Have you considered talking to a professional in mental health?

T was clearly going through it, and my teenage, self-absorbed view of what I was doing was shattered. I came to the stark realisation that neither Marcy nor I were qualified to be the answer to these sorts of problems. This lady was clearly in desperate need of expert help, a therapist of some sort, so I gently tried to prompt T in that direction. It did not work. As I tried to ignore her messages, they kept coming through, each sadder and more upsetting than the last. I checked out her profile, and her story all checked out. I felt like a piece of human shit. Marcy, a force I had dreamed up for a bit of trivial chaos and fun online, was now a suffering woman’s last resort. I needed to swap gears, and fast. But releasing a notesapp apology wasn’t really possible here, so following the lead of many an influencer caught in scandal, Marcy underwent a rebranding – now, she was an Ethical Psychic. 
“Ethical psychic” is, unfortunately, an oxymoron. In a profession that feeds off suffering, the only way to be ethical is to be clear that you are a big fat fraud. At this point, Marcy was far too deep to pivot. Besides, four hours in, one of my loyal fans had just informed me there was a doppelganger posing as Marcy in the group, stealing my customers. Given there was now a fake of a fake account, I figured it was about time for Marcy’s retirement.

Customer: I have got a message from a strange person pretending to be you sending back a reading

Me: That’s not me, thanks for letting me know!

Customer: I realised that after the 1st message she sent me so I have now blocked and reported her. Stay safe

Me: Thanks so much doll, if anyone in the group asks, let them know to block her too!
Entering the group as Marcy one last time, I deleted the post offering free readings in my new state of guilt. Interested messages slowed down over the next couple of hours, going from almost two every ten minutes to one every couple of hours. Marcy Davis, psychic extraordinaire turned ethical psychic, was no more. Her rise to fame had been frantic, fast, and exciting, full of glitter and hope, taking only like, twenty minutes. But the fall was just as fast and hard. Doppelgangers, my overwhelming guilt and the realisation I was just being a dick to suffering people caught up to me. That, and I had also just started re-watching Catfish with my sister and had nightmares about Nev knocking on my door and exposing me on MTV. But mostly the guilt got to me.

However, while writing this I wondered if the good people of Dunedin were equally as susceptible to my ruse now as this group was years ago, and I had some pretty hard-hitting cabin fever due to all the recent isolation. So I quickly found “Dunedin buy sell anything,” the Facebook group equivalent of “Dunedin Flatting Goods”’ ugly younger sister. Posing as a 2001 Otago University Communications drop out, once again, the messages flew in. Potentially the most captivating however, was M. 

Asking advice on whether she should pull out her kids and go off grid as she didn’t want to vaccinate them and was worried about CYFS, I remembered that the definition of stupidity is doing the same thing over again, expecting different results. After doing my best to guide her away from this rather drastic path by convincing her that if she vaccinated her kids I saw one of her sons as the next prime minister, I once again shut down my accounts.

The psychic business model relies on desperate people needing help and advice. It profits off misery occurring and continuing, on people having nowhere else to turn but a sympathetic stranger. And not every psychic is as ethical as I am, willing to stop once they realise the error of their ways. So if you find yourself needing guidance, go to a therapist. An online psychic is just as, if not more, likely to be a random person with an urge to mess around than someone with actual supernatural powers. But, if you want to have a good time and waste twenty bucks, feel free to email Just know that I, along with Marcy and every other psychic out there on Facebook, am faker than the avatar I took from to use as Marcy’s profile picture.

This article first appeared in Issue 2, 2022.
Posted 3:51pm Sunday 6th March 2022 by Ruby Werry.