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Cracking Down on Psychic Fraud

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The proliferation and profitability of storefront psychics in Los Angeles is one of those persistent urban mysteries, such as the absence of baby pigeons in New York City. The recent vote by the Los Angeles Police Commission suggests that it might be explained by good old fashioned people being easily suckered. The soothsaying industry will remain marginal after the Commission decided yesterday to not officially regulate it. In contrast, Riverside and San Francisco allow psychics to operate only if licensed by the city.

The Daily News notes that Commissioner Rick Caruso justifies the move as protection against fraudulent schemers in a field where creds are hard to prove. According to Caruso, an official city business license would imply that professional mystics are “qualified to read tea leaves, to talk to the dead and to solve your problems,” much as a beautician or building contractor is certified in his or her field. Licenses can also be used as tools in fleecing trusting customers. One unit detective annually processes approximately 50 complaints from people who have lost on average $5,000 from deceitful psychics. The Commission did, however, make a commitment to enforce this brand of business transgression.

LAist is still unsure if fortuneteller licensing would've saved poor Pee Wee a trip to the Alamo and all that grief during his bicycle quest.