Can You Sue For Money Lost To A Scam Psychic?

A "psychic" who turned a $10 fortune reading into a $63,000 scam just made a plea deal to avoid prison in exchange for restitution to her victim. This case brings to light just how easily someone can be manipulated by scam artists posing as psychics and spiritualists—and many cases never make it into criminal court. If you fall victim to one of these cons, is there any way to sue to get your money back? This is what you should know.

Many people make use of psychic services every year without a problem.

At least one study indicates that 39% of men and 69% of women will admit to having contacted a psychic, even though their services aren't necessarily cheap. Even a psychic or medium running a legitimate business is likely to charge between $25-$65 per hour. Those with more experience or a good reputation for accuracy may charge $100-$350 per hour for their work.

An unhappy experience doesn't necessarily equate the possibility of a lawsuit.

It's important to understand that a bad experience with a psychic may not equal being defrauded. The psychic industry is regulated in some areas, with fortune-telling being restricted, but other types of spiritualist activity (like contacting the spirits of the departed) may be permitted. In some parts of Maryland, for example, psychics have to go through a police background check and get a license to tell fortunes. In other states, they may have no restrictions or licensing requirements at all. If the service they provide is legal, being unhappy with the results doesn't necessarily leave you with legal options to recover your money.

Waivers of liability and terms of service also protect scammers.

Waivers of liability are everywhere—and legitimate businesses use them to protect themselves against disgruntled customers. So it isn't any surprise that scam psychics also rely on them to try to discourage lawsuits. Also, many psychics have the notification that all of their services are for "entertainment purposes only," which means that no matter how seriously you took their advice, you were warned at the outset that there were no guarantees. It's the equivalent of wagering your money on a card game at a casino.

You may still have some legal options for recovery.

Waivers and warnings may not be able to protect a con artist who steps over the line and takes more than his or her legitimate fee in exchange for mystical services. For example, if you are personally guaranteed that a spell cast by a psychic will reunite you with your divorcing spouse or get you the job promotion you wanted in exchange for additional money or gifts, you may be able to sue for breach of contract.

If you were subjected to threats of extreme danger and told that harm would come to you or your family unless you forked over significant amounts of cash designed to break some curse that had mysteriously been laid at your doorstep, your state laws may allow you to sue for the intentional infliction of emotional distress.

If you believe that you were defrauded out of a significant amount of money by a dishonest psychic, consider contacting an attorney, such as Roberts Miceli LLP, for advice to discuss the specifics of your case.