Enlightenment is a deception

Axel P. paid no less than 20,000 euros for a few pickles soaked in LSD. The visually impaired 46-year-old hoped to regain his eyesight with the help of the “miracle cucumbers” (MOPO reported yesterday). Most people will think: “Big nonsense” and “it's your own fault”. But Axel P. is not an isolated case: The hocus-pocus industry is booming.

For many, the supernatural offers answers to the elementary questions in life: Who am I? How do i get happy? What happens after death? Twice a year, thousands make the pilgrimage to the “Joy of Life” fair in the CCH, the meeting point for “Health, Ecology and Spirituality”. Many private broadcasters already show “Astro TV” in the afternoon, in which people seeking help are treated quickly by questionable tarot experts. And newspapers and the Internet are teeming with esoteric advertisements. The industry's annual turnover is estimated at around ten billion euros.

“Clairvoyants and fortune tellers are as old as humanity itself,” says Ursula Caberta, sect representative of the Hamburg Senate. “But this industry has been booming for 20 years. A real market has emerged. ”Caberta explains the trend towards Tarot & Co. primarily through social change:“ Traditional institutions such as the family, church or parties that used to provide support and orientation have become weaker. For many people, the supernatural offers a substitute. ”But there is a fine line between promising enlightenment and clumsy rip-offs. Caberta: "Esotericism is nothing negative in and of itself, if there weren't so many offers that arouse hopes that simply cannot be fulfilled."

- The ad: "Mr. Diaby "advertises its services with index-card-sized slips of paper. The “great clairvoyant” claims to solve problems such as “sexual impotence” or “bad fate” within 72 hours. After a deposit of 30 euros, the jack-of-all-trades welcomes his client for a personal meeting. The great master listens to the worries and needs of his counterpart. Then he pours a couple of seashells on a piece of paper, ponders and promises to question the ghosts that same night. The guest should come for a second appointment after a few days - oh yes, and bring the remaining money: 360 euros.

- The telephone rip-off: A harmless-looking letter is in the mailbox. The recipient is invited to seek “esoteric advice”. All he has to do is dial a 0900 telephone number. During the “consultation”, the charge counter runs along with it: 2.99 euros per minute. "This scam has been a long-runner for years," says Edda Castello from the consumer center. "Prosecution is almost impossible in these cases." The masterminds are often located abroad.

- The personal letter: The fraudsters buy addresses from dubious companies from private individuals - preferably from older, single people. A personal letter to the victim follows. An example: The “Hellenic fortune teller Alexandra” writes to a complete stranger: “Dear Erwin, since I last wrote to you, I have really thought of you a lot. You mustn't feel like the fifth wheel on the car. ”Later,“ Alexandra ”offers Erwin to“ release him from his problem of bewitching ”for 240 euros. A reply coupon is enclosed with the letter.

How many of these cases of fraud there are in Hamburg is unknown. The esoteric rip-off is not recorded as a separate offense. In addition, many victims are embarrassed to report the failure. Ursula Caberta: "Ultimately, everyone has a right to be stupid: there is always someone who offers questionable services - and someone else who accepts them."

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