I will admit to having seen a couple episodes of “Long Island Medium” on TLC. Theresa Caputo, the Long Island Medium, has an uncanny ability to connect with alleged strangers and clients. She feeds them details of how their loved ones passed, and gives them messages from beyond the grave. She’s able to bring closure for people who yearn for a chance to communicate with a lost family member, at least according to the show’s narrative. Caputo has a matter-of-fact, friendly demeanor that puts people at ease. The episodes I saw didn’t strike me as parlor tricks so much as pre-arranged reality show plots. My take is that at best Caputo believes dead people really are talking to her, but that doesn’t mean she’s doing anything other than making educated guesses. At worst, she’s scamming vulnerable people for her own gain.
Radar Online has new article with a YouTuber who is working to discredit Caputo. Ron Tebo of SciFake.com tells Radar that he’s been working with Caputo’s victims to try and spread the word that she’s a fraud “preying on the most vulnerable“:
RadarOnline.com can exclusively report that many viewers, audience members and even a private investigator believe Caputo’s “gift” is a total hoax.
“Theresa is like a vulture preying on the most vulnerable,” investigator Ron Tebo, the creator of fraud whistleblower website SciFake.com, tells Radar. “I think it’s despicable.”
Tebo, who says he has been privately speaking with Caputo’s clients and associates for more than a year, claims the reality star employs old-school psychic techniques such as cold reading— or analyzing someone’s body language, clothes, speech and other initial impressions to make a high-probability guess about a subject— and shotgunning —or asking a large audience a vague question for a greater chance of a positive response.
“She schmoozes with the audience, and wins them over with her big hair, designer shoes and comedy. When they trust her, she goes in for the kill,” Tebo explains. “She’ll ask the group a question like, ‘Who lost an older male relative to heart problems?’ It’s the oldest trick in the medium’s book.”
And sometimes, it seems even her best efforts fail. Radar has obtained a long list of complaints from Caputo’s current show tour— and many former fans now believe she’s faking it!
While Caputo includes only accurate readings on her TV series, at a recent Hershey, Penn., show, “she seemed off and almost every reading was like pulling teeth to match up info. She was really grasping at straws and did a lot of ‘fishing,’” one disappointed audience member at the April 5 reading recently complained to Ticketmaster.com. “For the most part, readings were forced and uninspired.”
“Some [readings] were just off the mark,” said another ticket-buyer at a New Orleans show in November.
For her more on-point readings, Tebo believes Caputo may arrive fully prepared: He suspects her assistants run a background check or even eavesdrop on certain audience members outside the theater to guarantee a catch.
“When you purchase a ticket, you provide your full name, address and phone number to the vender,” the whistleblower explains. “The vender can share this information with her staff, and then they can investigate the individual audience members. It seems she focuses on the front rows.”
During a Durham, North Carolina show in October, “there were three levels of seating and approximately 2,500 people in attendance,” an audience member recalled to Ticketmaster in her grievance. “Teresa spent the entire time on the first floor.”
“I was a Theresa Caputo believer and watched every one of her shows,” the former fan continues. “My young daughter died this summer and I needed to believe in something. After tonight, I am no longer a believer. There were many grieving people there, hoping for closure, or a sign from their loved ones and 2,490 people left defeated and deflated.”
I checked out a couple of SciFake’s videos from their website. This is one of my favorites, an appearance Caputo made on Anderson Cooper’s talkshow. She fishes the audience for hits on vague questions like “someone lost a spouse” and “someone is wearing a religious artifact from their grandmother.” Caputo then hones in to people who raise their hands and makes more vague statements looking for confirmation. When the gentlemen she’s talking to says no, there was nothing wrong with his deceased wife’s legs, she then returns to the audience to search for someone who has a dead relative who suffered from leg problems.
While it may be obvious to us that she’s a fake, there are people who believe in this lady and pay to see her. She makes bank doing this and has a national platform, so it’s worth getting the word out about her.
Starting in 1964, the James Randi Education Foundation has offered a reward, now at $1 million, to anyone who can demonstrate psychic ability under scientific conditions. In the 50 years since the One Million Paranormal Challenge started, no one has claimed the money. The Guardian followed a celebrity psychic medium, Patricia Putt, as she took the test and failed. Putt later blamed the testing conditions.
Remember Montel Williams’ resident “psychic medium,” Sylvia Brown? She told Amanda Berry’s mom that her daughter was dead and that she saw her “in water.”
Update: Radar has another article featuring one of Tebo’s videos debunking Caputo’s reading on the Ellen show. Tebo’s voiceover is loud and obnoxious, he uses unnecessary hyperbole and he was more convincing using a computer voiceover. In the video, which you can see on Radar, Tebo points out that Caputo’s son and husband look over to a woman in the audience well before Caputo calls on her, suggesting that this woman is a plant.
photo credit: Pacific Coast News, WENN and Mills Entertainment