How to Protect Yourself from Online Spiritual Scammers
Updated: Mar 8
By Mickie Mueller
Online predators posing as spiritual service providers have become a huge problem on social media especially among the spiritual and witchcraft community. These imposters grab the photos and posts of high profile and trusted tarot, witchcraft, and other spiritual content creators and name the fake account in some altered version of our names. They change the name slightly by adding numbers after the name, underscores, or misspelling the name in some way so that it looks like our account is contacting you. They do this in order to scam unsuspecting people out of money and personal information. The fraudsters use these fake accounts to send a message that they've "felt a strong energy from you" or "have a message from your ancestors" and then they proceed to offer readings, or spells for money which they want sent through as service Venmo, What'sApp, PayPal, or CashApp. They're not doing a spell for you, they're not doing a reading, they're just taking money. Once they have your money, they block you!
You won’t believe the depths of harm that these greedy people will go to. If you think these fake accounts aren’t more than just an annoyance, think again. Sometimes they pretend like they've done a reading and then they tell you that...you're under a curse! Of course they will remove the curse for a fee. One of my imposters told their target that if they didn’t pay for a curse removal their parents lives would be in danger! These people operate using tools like flattery and fear to manipulate their targets into giving them what they want.
So how can we keep ourselves safe online? My accounts have been plagued by multiple scammers trying to extort money from people using my name and likeness. I want to help by sharing some tips to help you spot these frauds.
How to Spot a Fake Account
1. If you get a DM offering any kind of spiritual service, click their profile and go take a look. Check how the name is spelled, they usually have punctuation, misspells, numbers, etc. so that the name is not quite right. As an example, my handle is @mickiemueller, some of my scammers handles include: @mickiemueller_, @mickiemuelier, @mickiemueller53, @mickie_mueller62526 so this is the kind of username that should set off alarm bells for you. Sometimes the handle and the username don't match because they swap usernames and photos once they get busted and continue with the same account.
Below are examples of the multiple accounts on Instagram (Jan 2023) that are posing as me, the top one is my only account, the rest are imposters.
2. Search the actual name of the person in the social media platform or in a browser. If you search Mickie Mueller on Instagram, you'll find multiple accounts with my name, my account will have tons of posts going back for years, stories, interaction with the community in my comments, that's how you'll know, it's me. Like many other of my colleagues who's accounts are also getting duplicated, you'll find our actual social media accounts on our websites and they'll come up in a quick browser search.
3. Take a look at their posts. You'll usually find that most of the posts are all from the same day or the same couple days. This is sketchy behavior and you'll also often find that they only have a couple likes on posts and very few comments if any. Real accounts of authors, successful tarot readers, or other witchy content creators will have posts spaced out over the past several years and those posts are filled with comments and authentic interactions.
4. Do they have "Stories?" These scammer accounts don't usually have stories at all. This is just another way to tell that they're not interacting with the community except to slide into the DM's and get money out of people.
5. They communicate in an insincere manner. Their language will be peppered with emojis that make no sense, they use flowery, sing songy ways of speaking, and they'll call you "beautiful, dear one, beloved, dear spirit..." No, we don't actually talk that way. They're buttering you up with compliments to distract you from their ill intentions. They also reference their own titles as being elevated like "Grand Rising, Highest Spirit, Enlightened One," and they like to mention their "temple" oh...come on! We're in our dining room, bedroom, in my case, my studio. I only know a couple witches who have a temple and they're very successful and definitely do not drum up business in the DM's, they don't have to. I've also noticed that if you string them along long enough for fun, they can get quite rude and start to just demand "Send money now." It's not the way a person offering a real service would treat their customers.
6. There are NO real people who provide spiritual services who just randomly send messages to drum up business. The whole act of contacting you first is a big red flag. All the people I know who offer these services will post an ad on their account and they'll offer services from their actual website or another selling platform and they allow you to contact them first, not the other way around.
What to Do Next?
So you've found out the person messaging you is a fake, what can you do next?
1. Do not give them any personal information.
2. Do not give them any money.
3. Ignore anything they tell you. You are not cursed, your ancestors are not trying to reach you, the only thing happening is a creep is hovering their greedy hand over your bank account! Shut that shit down.
4. It's probably not necessary to contact the person they're impersonating, chances are, we've already had ten messages about the same account and we're drowning in them.
5. Report them to the social media platform (report as "pretending to be someone I know" If we can't get our accounts verified, we're not considered celebrities)
6. Block them.
7. Pat yourself on the back because you rock! You're officially part of the solution. Thank you!
On a personal note, I grumble that I have to take time out of my life (and content that I want to make for you) to deal with these scammers. As annoying as it is for me, it's the people that they're stealing from that are my main concern. It's upsetting that they're stealing my name and likeness and potentially damaging my reputation by ripping people off, but the real victims of these imposter accounts are the unsuspecting people who are getting hundreds of dollars scammed out from under them.
What if it's My Account They're Copying?
Last but not least, my fellow members of the witch and spiritual community that are having your accounts copied. I feel your pain, I really do. Our colleagues like Mat Auryn, Madame Pamita, Michelle Tea, Hannah Graves (Cult Mother Tea), Tess Whitehurst, Theresa Reed (The Tarot Lady) and many more have done battle with this problem. All have tried to get the coveted blue verification checkmark for our accounts to no avail. We have been told after reporting accounts that "The account is not in violation." It's frustrating. You're not alone.
The only thing I have personally found that helps at all is to report every single image they grab for copyright violation. You don't have to register your photos or videos with the copyright office to do this, just report it. The investigators can see when you posted the original vs when the scammer did. It's a time devouring process but it does get results until a better solution is created. I started adding a copyright notice to my posts (when I think to do it) but I don't think it's necessary to get the stolen posts removed. It's not much, but it can help the account look less real, and help people spot them more easily.
Stay safe out there, I hope that having this knowledge can help you to protect yourself and your loved ones online. I just wanted to make visitors to my website aware and do what I can to clear up any confusion while keeping you safe from these online predators.
I HIGHLY recommend that you follow @scammeralertpage on Instagram for more details on this abhorrent trend on Instagram.
Be Your Magick!