Mystic Tech: The PT Barnum Online Angle

May 13, 2012

Ah, a new spin on research. Technology is impacting an industry with an image that’s about as far from tech-oriented as you can get. The Austrian Times reports, “Fortune Teller Used Google to Speak to the Dead.”

Yes, two prominent Romanian fortune tellers turned high-tech to boost their success rates. From simple Google searches to surveillance equipment, the seers used modern mundane methods to gather information that convinced clients of their powers. Once taken in, customers would then fork over cash for messages from beyond the grave. The article gives this example:

“One woman told how she had believed the two Roma women were genuine mystics, and had been persuaded to take tens of thousands of pounds and go to a nearby lake for a midnight ritual. She had been told that she had to release herself from the burden of her money and throw it all in the lake – but when she hesitated a demon like figure had emerged from the water and in a panic – she had thrown the money into the water and run away.
“But police discovered that the water devil was in fact a pal of the pair who had put on diving gear and a mask to terrify the unsuspecting victim.”

Wow, I have to give the pair credit for audacity. They also bribed the prosecutor to drop the charges stemming from the above incident, but that man happened to be under surveillance himself. All three were arrested when they met to exchange money. As a police investigator quipped, “If they had been any good, they would have known not to try.”

Cynthia Murrell, May 13, 2012

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