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How to Tell a Fake Psychic from a Real One

I can see your future

Last week I posted a discussion in the forum (“Do you care if ghost tours are artificially enhanced?”) based on an article I read in the Huffington Post (“Chris ‘Knight Guider’ Date, British Psychic, Accused Of Planting Fake Spirit During Ghost Tour”).

Here’s a snippet from the article:

A British psychic who claims he can speak to the dead is accused of planting fake spirits during a ghost hunt. Chris Date, who prefers to be called “Knight Guider,” hosted a ghost tour on Friday at the (allegedly) haunted Halfway Hotel in Llanelli, South Wales.

At one point during the tour, Date went into the hotel stables with 14 paying customers and asked the supposed spirits to answer a question by knocking twice.

The alleged spook did as requested, but a tour guest and a member of the staff decided to wait around to see if someone came down from the attic where the knocking was coming from, according to hotel owner Paul Francis.

“Twenty minutes went by and then this guy jumped down. Our staff grabbed the guy and threw him out,” Francis said, according to the Telegraph.

The man from the attic claimed to be homeless and insisted he had nothing to do with the spooky sounds. However, ghost hunt guest Mike Grimble, 43, skeptically noted to the Daily Mail that the “homeless man” was wearing “designer jeans.”

If you read the above and got aggravated, join the club. So did I. Nothing worse than a fake psychic!


I feel I have a pretty good “paranormal poser” meter. Meaning, I can usually spot wannabes, frauds and fakes fairly easily. Once in a while I get it wrong and misjudge a bad person for a good one. Hey, I am only human after all.

How do I spot phonies? It’s not really any one thing I do or that they do that gives it away. It’s more a matter of common sense and trusting my gut. It’s no different from when I meet normal, non-psychic people.

But then, as in the case with Mr. Guider, people do something blatant and show their true colors. Fakes will always slip up if you give them enough time and rope.

There are a lot of people who don’t mean to deceive. They just want to live a different reality and figure if they pretend hard enough they can convince themselves and those around them that they’re more than they really are.

But, again, as in the case with Mr. Guider, there are those who mean to deceive. They not only want to live in a different reality and be someone they’re really not, they set out to create that reality and try to profit from it.


Do I believe in psychics? I’m open to the idea there are people out there with true psychic abilities. However, I’m also pretty much convinced none of them use their skills to make a living by performing in front audiences or charging people for consultations.

I know a lot of so-called, self-labeled “psychics.” Most seem to fall into the not-meaning-to-deceive category. But I’m pretty sure none of them are “real” psychics.

I’ve never sold myself as a Psychic for Hire, but I like to think most of the ones who do are like me: they see or feel things once in a while because they are abnormally sensitive, empathic, and intuitive.

I don’t know I’d even call most of the “real” psychics, “psychic.” Again, I think they’re uber compassionate people who are good at listening to others, guiding them and offering advice. They’re truly more of Life Coaches or Spiritual Coaches.

Basically, I tend to believe most Psychics for Hire, especially the celebrity (or wannabe celebrity) variety,  are just super intuitive empaths with great acting abilities.


So how do you spot  a fake psychic from a real one?

First off, if you go to a Psychic for Hire in the first place, you’re searching for something. Someone to listen to you, someone to give you hope, someone to give you solace. I don’t want to take that away from you. A psychic is cheaper than therapy and maybe safer than confiding in a friend. (Or perhaps fresher. Perhaps your problem is such that your friends can’t help or don’t know how anymore.)

Your belief in them gives Psychics for Hire their energy and power. You both sort of need each other. If that’s what you need, go. My only advice here would be don’t go if you’re vulnerable, in mourning, etc. Your soul will be too exposed, will cloud your judgement, and will make it harder for you to spot frauds but easier for them to prey upon you.

However, if you’re in your sound mind and searching for a real psychic, how do you spot one?

I know general guides, like if they ask you questions they’re fishing for info and based on the way you dress people can pick up general cues about you. But like I said before, for me to spot a phony is more of a gut thing.

I Googled “how to tell a real psychic from a fake one” and guess what? A bunch of pages come up. (The funny thing is, most were written by self-proclaimed psychics, but some actually offered helpful advice. I’ve referenced the most helpful ones below.)

I combined some of the common sense cues I follow with the good advice I found on the Web to come up with a list of the 10 best tips for telling a fake psychic from a real one.

  1. Ask to test them. Real psychics won’t be put off by the request.
  2. Say nothing. A real psychic will not need you to tell them why you’re seeking them out. They should be able to pick up on that from your energy.
  3. Never give your last name. If you’re making an appointment and going to a psychic’s place of business or doing an online season, don’t give them your last name. You’d be amazed the things they can find out about you via Google. Again, nothing psychic about that, just a good researcher.
  4. Guard your emotions. Tears will convey you’re sad and upset, as will frowning and angry words. Anyone with a basic level of perception will pick up on this and can easily say, “I sense your mad/sad/etc.” That is not a demonstration of psychic ability.
  5. Mind your appearance. Your clothes, jewelry and accessories say as much about you as your words. They can reveal your socio-economic status and even your mood. (For example, a disheveled appearance can indicate someone who’s upset and isn’t caring how they look.)
  6. Be leery of one-sides messages. If the psychic is too enthusiastic, too positive about your future or too negative, that indicates too much. Look for level-headed people delivering matter-of-fact messages, not one sided-ones.
  7. Beware recommended return visits. Psychics aren’t like doctors who recommend return visits to better monitor your health. You shouldn’t need a “check up” with a psychic. You should be able to decide for yourself whether or not you ever need to see them again. Of course, fakes will want you to return. They need your repeat business.
  8. Watch for sales pitches. If your psychic tries to sell you anything further, like a love spell, charm or potion, they’re upselling you…not to help you but to line their pocket books.
  9. Intimidation or manipulation tactics. The one thing all the sources repeated was no true psychic will ever warn you of a negative spirit hovering around you, a curse upon your soul, that you have bad karma, that you need a cleansing, etc. This sort of behavior is playing upon your fears and usually leads to things to watch for in tip numbers 7 and 8.
  10. Psychics who get emotional. If your psychic refuses to take a test, or doesn’t pass it and you point that out, a real psychic will not care. They will just say, “Hey, I can’t read your energy.” A fake psychic will likely get mad or be put out and offer excuses –which normally will involve pointing the blame back on you. (ie. Saying you are blocking something or you having done something wrong so they read you wrong, or you’re mistaken about what they’re telling you.)



Courtney Mroch
Courtney Mroch, otherwise known as HJ's Ambassador of Dark and Paranormal Tourism, is an author, traveler, and ghost enthusiast. When she's not writing, jaunting, or planning her next trip, it's a safe bet you'll find her in one of three places: on a tennis court somewhere, on a yoga mat somewhere, or watching a horror movie somewhere. She currently resides in Nashville, Tennessee.

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One thought on “How to Tell a Fake Psychic from a Real One

  1. Courtney, Thank you for the article this week as I was in the process of thinking about interviewing some psychics as research for my character. I’ve been watching Psychic Tia and sometimes I’ll catch the Long Island Medium (whom I believe to be less real than Tia) and would just love to interview her but know that isn’t possible.

    I’ve not read the articles you posted as reference articles yet but do plan on reading them. I appreciate your posting things like this. E 🙂

    Elysabeth Eldering
    Author of FINALLY HOME, a Kelly Watson, YA paranormal myster

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