Why is it acceptable to sell Woo-Woo

Why is is ok to sell one type of scam but not the other?

If I were to sell bottles of Hair Tonic, concocted from urine and ink on the street corner I am sure I would very soon run a foul of the Department of Consumer Protection for selling a product that does not and has not been proven to work. The most common term for such a product is “fraud” and it is against the law to sell such products to the consumer for financial gain.

However Psychics and Clairvoyants frequently engage in such activities whereby they sell a service that does not work. Even with a prize of $100,000 AUD on offer from Australian Skeptics and One Million USD from The James Randi Educational Foundation not one Psychic has ever come forward to verify their extraordinary claims. This reluctance comes as no surprise to anyone of a Skeptical mindset but anyone who is not a Skeptic should be asking why these people cannot verify their own claims to have such psychic powers particularly when there is a significant financial incentive to do so. The all to obvious truth is that Psychics, Clairvoyants, Mediums and all the other New Age powers are nothing more than a fallacy.

Unlike my earlier hypothetical scenario with the “hair tonic” when it comes to Psychics and Clairvoyants the Department of Consumer Protection is content with standing on the sidelines and allowing ignorant people to be parted with their cash. There is a monthly “Psychic Awareness Magical Fair” here in Perth and I felt it was only fitting that Consumer Protection should know about the fraudulent practices taking place here. So I visited their Scamnet website where I stumbled upon an interesting page about Psychics and Clairvoyants.

Psychic scams prey on people’s vulnerabilities by promising to change their lives through lucky charms and winning lottery numbers.

Often these so-called psychics do not exist. They are fictional characters created by mailing companies to fleece you of your money. The pictures accompanying the psychics’ biographies are purchased from commercial photography libraries. The models in these photographs probably have no idea that their image is being used to scam people.

So it seems that you are not allowed to pretend to be a Psychic but it’s ok to be an actual Psychic. What is the difference, Psychics are frauds so how can it be ok to be a Psychic so long as you aren’t just pretending to be a Psychic? That simply doesn’t make sense. So I emailed them to ask about it and this is the response I got.

 

Dear Mr Buzzard

Thank you for your enquiry regarding Psychic and clairvoyant scams.

WAScamNet reports on a range of matters that are currently being marketed to the public of Western Australia.  In many instances the wording and style of information presented to members of the public falls into the category of material that Consumer Protection considers likely to mislead the recipient of the material.

One of these instances is what we define as psychic scams. Often these scams will involve a claim that simply by sending money to a particular person some defined result, e.g. personal wealth or happiness, will follow. In many cases, no readily identifiable service is actually provided.

The Department’s particular concern in relation to clairvoyants and psychics is where generic information or material is published which gives an impression to the reader that the publisher of the material has particular knowledge of the circumstances of the individual, potentially causing the reader to be misled into acting in a way that they would not normally do. However, we take the view that material published by way of general invitation or information allows the reader to make an informed choice about whether to participate.

WAScamNet does not purport to support, deny or define the existence of the ability to foretell the future or issues that may affect individuals. There are a wide range of individuals and groups, including psychics, clairvoyants, and even religious organisations, that may claim knowledge of aspects of the future or that may provide guidance to individuals on how to act based on their values and beliefs. Consumer Protection considers that where the material published by these individuals or groups is sufficient for the reader to make an informed decision about whether or not to engage a particular service or to participate in a particular activity or belief system, there is unlikely to have been misleading conduct in breach of the Fair Trading Act 1987.

Consumer Protection will receive and consider all complaints about information published by any person or company.

I trust this information is of assistance.

Kind Regards

<Name Omitted>
A/WA ScamNet Research Officer
Retail and Service Industries Branch

 

Will they attempt to support deny or define the effectiveness of my fraudulent  “Hair Tonic” if I start to sell it on the street corner, or is this special acceptance reserved only for the Psychics. The stance taken by the Department of Consumer Protection is deeply disappointing, as far as I’m concerned Fraud is Fraud and the authorities should not pick and choose between them. Psychic’s cheat the consumer just like any other scam and the authorities should deal with them accordingly.

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