News item

Sham shaman in trading standards' sights

Vulnerable and unwitting members of the public who have been duped into parting with cash by fortune tellers and palm readers, are being asked to reveal what happened to them.

The council’s trading standards team has become aware that con artists – some also trading as astrologists – who claim to be able to reveal secrets about a person’s past, present and future are operating in the borough.

Witnesses have told of customers of these scammers who have been left upset and reduced to tears following sessions at which increasing sums of money have been demanded for the phoney services on offer.

Now, victims of these sham shamans are being asked by the trading standards team to complete a simple, confidential questionnaire outlining details of their experience, and when and where it happened.

Councillor Mark Watson, cabinet member for safety and justice, said: “Many of the people who visit these tricksters do so because of a traumatic event – such as illness, or the loss of a loved one – and are in a vulnerable state.

“That leaves them open to being taken advantage of, and we suspect that’s happening in a growing number of instances.

“There’s no blame attached to them because of this, and they shouldn’t feel at all shamed – they’ve fallen victim to a professional conman who’s out to take them for all he can get.

“That’s why we’re asking people to let us know what happened, and the effect it had on them, and assuring them that their identity won’t be revealed. We hope to be able to use the information gathered to put a stop to this worrying and damaging trend.”

Anybody who feels they may have been conned by somebody claiming to be a palmist or astrologist, is asked to email or call 020 8407 1311.

DATE: 17 September 2014