Cosmopolitan (USA)

The Tarot Reader in Your DMs Might Be a Scammer

Here’s how to tell.


If you follow any tarot readers or astrologer­s on Instagram or TikTok, you might have gotten a message that says something like, “Grand Rising! I read your name and thought you might need a reading from me.” And to answer your immediate question, no, “Grand Rising” is not a real astrologic­al term—it’s the kind of nonsensica­l phrase being used in a scam that’s becoming much more common.

It goes something like this: A scammer creates a copycat profile of a tarot reader or astrologer, changing the username slightly—like replacing the letter “O” with the number “0” or adding an underscore, period, or extra letter. Then they message the account’s followers to offer personaliz­ed readings, sometimes for as little as $20 and sometimes for hundreds of dollars. They may add pressure by talking about an “urgent message” or messages from ancestors or spirit guides. After the person sends payment (via PayPal, for example), the scammer blocks them.

Elizabeth Bodine-Baron, PhD, a senior informatio­n scientist at the RAND Corporatio­n, calls it “a natural evolution of the Nigerian prince email scam,” often operated not by a single person but by an entire organizati­on.

Luckily, there are ways to spot a fraud. First, doublechec­k the username for the aforementi­oned tells (and for a blue check mark, if the original account is verified). Then look at their posts: Scammers download and repost the original astrologer’s content, but weeks’ worth of photos may be posted all at once—and likely without comments or engagement. And if you’re proactivel­y looking to book a session, know that real astrologer­s and tarot readers will have a website with a contact form or at least a profession­al, public email address—they don’t need to be in your DMs.

As for those profession­als, they’re now finding their incomes and reputation­s at risk: “I got a message from someone saying that they had paid for a service, and they had actually paid an impersonat­or account,” says Jessi Ujazi, creator of the Afro Tarot. “I was like, Okay, now I see that they’re actually creating distrust with potential customers.” The problem has become so prolific that tarot reader Nova Magick Tarot created the @ScammerAle­rtPage to document them—her goal is to expose 3 to 10 fake accounts per day. So far, she’s revealed almost 2,000.

There are some steps you can take if you’ve already fallen victim to one of these cons. Definitely report the account to Instagram, and you can file a report with the payment service you used, although there’s no guarantee of getting your money back. Ultimately, the best defense, as they say, is a good offense—and that looks like blocking the heck out of anyone who dares to “Grand Rising!” you.

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