Crime

Beware Fake Occult Scams on TikTok

Inside Thorn & Moon
Inside Thorn & Moon Photo by Jef Rouner
Most of us are familiar with the classic online grifts such as the Nigerian Prince and email from “Ammazon” about a gift card you’ve won, but the latest scam is apparently impersonating occult and magick shops on TikTok to bilk people out of money for fake tarot readings. That’s what’s been happening in Houston lately to Thorn & Moon Apothecary.

“Recently, within the past month, many of my followers have been messaging me to tell me that I have imposters that are messaging them,” says founder Jessica Anderson. “I can’t see these accounts, they block the original so that you can’t see them to report them. One of my followers did fall for it and sent money to one of the imposters.”

click to enlarge
Yeah, that looks legit
Screenshot by Jef Rouner
My wife was one of the people targeted. She had recently picked up tarot reading again, and we’ve known Anderson for years, so it seemed somewhat plausible that Thorn and Moon might have reached out to her to offer some guidance. We figured out pretty soon that something was off, though.

“I was called to you by the ancestors that’s why I beep ya,” the message read. I can promise you that Jessica Anderson has never unironically told anyone she was called to them by the ancestors in her life.

“It is always some strangely worded proposition like, ‘Grand Rising, my beloved, I was drawn to you for some reason, and feel like you are in need of a reading or healing,’” she says. “Or something along those lines. To try to get you to send them money. They are very pushy too. I have always reported and blocked these accounts in the past and notified the real account.”

The tips for avoiding these scams are the same as lot of online grifts. Pay very close attention to account names to make sure they are properly spelled and match the official page you follow. Also remember that most reputable businesses do not message people out of the blue and badger them into sending money. In general, never send money to people on the internet who contact you first unless you can verify who they are.

The problem has grown with Thorn & Moon’s reputation. Anderson’s following has increased thanks to her regular hosting of magical markets in the city, and she is launching a massive Carnivale Spooktacular event in downtown this Halloween season. That name recognition is what drives grifters to copy.

“They usually target those in the magickal community with a strong social media presence, and what they do is copy the Instagram profile photo, bio info, and the first 30-40 photos in your posts, and create a new account that duplicates yours,” says Anderson. “You can tell it’s fake because A. They don’t have many followers yet B. All of their photos are posted all on the same day and C. There are usually no captions on the photos.”

So, if it seems weird that one of the most notable occult providers in the city is bothering you randomly on TikTok, it’s a scam. Good luck out there.
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Jef Rouner (not cis, he/him) is a contributing writer who covers politics, pop culture, social justice, video games, and online behavior. He is often a professional annoyance to the ignorant and hurtful.
Contact: Jef Rouner