Psychic Hot Line Secrets: Clairvoyance or Hoax?

Former "psychic" revals the secrets of the psychic industry.

ByABC News via logo
May 7, 2010, 11:00 PM

May 9, 2010— -- When the economy tanks, psychics say their business soars.

The psychic industry is a $2 billion a year business, with millions of people still dialing "900" numbers, even after two decades of lawsuits, bad press and bankruptcies. But when someone calls a psychic hot line, does the person on the other end have more insight than anyone else?

Former psychic hot line worker and author of "Psychic Blues," Mark Edward, says he's blowing the whistle on his former industry.

"The psychic business is built on lies. There is no supernatural power. You can't see the future," Edward says. "We're in the golden age of the con. There are people coming out of the woodwork that would love to separate you from your money. But people just want someone to talk to. That's the bottom line."

Edward says he was taught techniques to keep his conversations vague, flattering and drawn out. The goal was to make the callers feel good about themselves, and keep them talking. Edward once gave a two-and-a-half-hour reading. At $3.99 a minute, the caller paid more than $600.

In a statement to ABC News, Edward's former employer said: "All of our psychics are independent contractors, and as such, they worked for multiple psychic lines at the same time. So either he is lying or confusing us with a disreputable psychic line."

In a 2007 study, conducted by the University of Auckland in New Zealand, Dr. Robin-Marie Shepherd found most users called for advice on "personal relationships." Nearly all users describe their behavior as "addictive."

And, at an average of $100 per reading, many went in to debt because of it.