We are all aware of the dangers of the internet. However, there are some specific 'dangers' - or at least scams - that seem to be specific to the witchcraft community.
One of the most repreatedly posted questions I see online goes something along the lines of 'I visited a psychic and they told me there is a generational curse and now she can remove it for me (usually costing money), is this real'?
The short answer is, most likely not. And there are a lot of these scams going around. So today, I wanted to give some tips on staying safe online so you don't find yourself in danger or out of pocket.
We will start with the obvious: never give out your personal details to people you don't know. Definitely not your address, and absolutely not your bank details! Now, phone number is always a bit of an iffy one; I have given out my phone number exactly three times to people in the community I hadn't actually 'met' yet. Two were ladies I was involved in running a small community with and had messaged extensively online first, and the other was a lady who I was arranging to meet at a conference I was speaking at because she was helping organise the conference. The great thing about phone numbers is you can block them if things get weird or even change your number (as much hassle as that is). On the whole, this is a lovely community, and you will make friends online that you may want to chat to outside of online spaces. Trust your gut if you are going to give your phone number out to people and don't be afraid to bail the minute it gets uncomfortable.
Now that is out of the way, let's move on to more 'witchy' scams:
1. People messaging you asking if they can do a reading for you:
There is a difference between marketing and people soliciting you for readings. Marketing is more general, more impersonal, and is usually just a 'call to action'; asking you to check out their shop, advertising they are doing readings and to let them know if you want one, etc. Those soliciting you for readings will be much more personal, often opening with something along the lines of 'hey! I saw your profile and I just felt such an energy coming from you, I just knew that I was meant to connect with you!', or 'my guides led me to your profile as they have a message for you'.
I get a lot of these, and one evening after a few drinks (and having some spare money having done really well saving that month), I decided to play along and see how legit it was. So I responded to one of these messages, and they offered to do a reading for me (which cost £40!), to reveal my message. So I agreed.
They messaged me back literally three minutes after I had transferred the money via PayPal saying they had pulled three cards and had my message. Now, I'm sorry, I don't care how good a Tarot reader you are, there is no way you can connect with your guides, shuffle your cards, pull three, interpret them, and write a message with that interpretation in three minutes. Absolutely impossible. Strike one.
And - Gasp! - wouldn't you know it! Apparently I have a family member who was jealous of my potential success so put a curse on me when I was a child!
This was strike two. I have a damn good life. I have good friends, partner, family, a well paying job I enjoy, I own my own flat in a city I love, I am getting to do what I love with my books, podcast talks, etc. If this is me being cursed, then all I can think is that this 'curse' has someone prevented me from being the billionaire play-girl married to the hottest Hollywood actor that I always knew I should have been if life hadn't of dealt me this cruel hand!
But I went along with it, and then would you believe it - she had just the curse removal spell she was willing to cast for me! So generous, so kind....wait no, just kidding, of course that too would cost me. Strike three.
By that point I had had my fun and proved my point, so just ignored them. But many well respected tarot readers and practitioners of any magickal art will tell you that they do not solicit their works. So if someone you have never heard of creeps into your DM's with a message from their spirit guides, chances are, it's a scam.
2. Paying for Spells:
Another popular one. 'I can make your ex come back to you, I can curse his new lover', etc. You see them everywhere; on social media, on Etsy, one self-built websites. And you know what, some of them are legit. However, red flags to look out for include:
- 100% guarantee the spell will be successful. No witch can guarantee success every time, that just isn't how magick works
- Next day results. Again, no witch can guarantee exactly when the magick will manifest, so I would be wary of any promises such as this
- Messages after you have already paid asking for more money; either they need more tools, the spell wasn't powerful enough and they want to try something else, or some other excuse. If they ask for more money, block and move on
- They approached you. This definitely falls under the same 'solicitation' scam I spoke about above
3. People offering to pay you for Spells:
Not quite as prevalent, but recently there have been reports on social media of people receiving messages from others asking them to perform spells for them, and that person will pay you. This is often a data mining scam, so even though it may be difficult on the surface to see where you could lose money or how you could reveal personal information, again just block and move on.
4. Joining Online Communities:
I love online communities, and to be honest, I tend to be more involved with the online community than I am the 'IRL' community. I have joined countless 'schools' over the years 9I am old enough to remember life before the internet), done various courses, and love chatting to others via social media. However, again you need to exercise caution when interacting with online communities, and below are some of the reasons why:
- Creeps: Unfortunately the spiritual community can attract a lot of creeps. If anyone starts to engage you in any sort of conversation that makes you feel uncomfortable or starts asking for pictures (even non-sexual ones), then steer clear
- Asking for money: Some courses and schools will ask for a small fee to cover operational costs, and this is understandable. However, those that charge obscene amounts of money, or small but regular amounts for information you could get elsewhere for free or cheaper are often untrustworthy
- Promising you 'secret knowledge': Ah yes; there is but one truth in this universe that will make you rich and successful beyond your wildest dreams. But the only way you can access it is if you pay X amount of money or join Y society. Unfortunately, it is never that easy. Hiding such 'revolutionary knowledge' behind a paywall is a common tactic that preys on the vulnerable, so avoid, avoid, avoid!
- Pushing to meet IRL: As great as online communities are, sometimes meeting face to face and practising in person is more beneficial. However, any online community that INSISTS you have to meet them in real life is often one to be wary of. Especially if that meeting place is in the middle of the darkened woods which is just 'perfect' for this specific ritual they want you to be a part of....
These are just some of the most obvious scams, but sometimes even the most innocuous of interactions can be preludes to scammy behaviour. Some people are very good at hiding it, no matter how sure you might have been. Other behaviours to look out for that are most likely signs you should stop engaging with this person/this community include:
- People operating from brand new profiles with very few posts
- People spoofing well-known users accounts (stealing their content and giving themselves a very similar user name to fool people into thinking they are that credible user)
- People asking for money through unsecure payment channels
- People pressuring you into making decisions and payments NOW
- People threatening you; this could be telling you that a curse that was placed on you that they can remove will get worse unless you pay them now, that they themselves will curse you if you don't give them money, or that they will contact a loved one (such as an ex) to tell them you are trying to cast spells on them
Obviously it is difficult to know 100% if something is a scam or not, but when it doubt, drop it and search out more reputable practitioners. Look for independent reviews, speak to others who have been involved in those communities or who have head readings, etc., from those people, and make sure you never give away any personal information. Stay safe out there witches!
The Weekly Witch:
Once I week I talk about something 'witchcraft' related I have done with my week. How we incorporate witchcraft into our every day lives is always a topic that has interested me, so I wanted to start this blog to explore it further!