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Confessions of a Phony Telephone Psychic

Mystic: Erin Auerbach took a job as a telephone psychic while studying in Las Vegas. Auerbach had been desperate for work while she studied theater at UNLV when she spotted a classified advert for 'phone actors'. Intrigued by the promise of working from home and setting her own hours, the year-old decided to get in touch.

Or was this some sort of telemarketing scheme? A friendly man assured me that this was completely legit. After reinventing herself as Anita - the name of the hospice nurse who had cared for Auerbach's father after his liver transplant - the aspiring actress was ready for her first call. Change of fortune: Erin had moved to Las Vegas to pursue her dreams of a career in theater. They would tell me that they thought this was nonsense and that I was a fraud. The first surly customer I encountered pummeled me,' Auerbach wrote in Salon.

As the male caller's voice became more angry, Auerbach did her best to keep to the script and keep him on the line. The abrupt end to the call panicked Auerbach who had been warned if not enough calls lasted for an average of 10 minutes, she would be fired. Auerbach soon found a way to relate to clients, reassuring them that love - or that big career break - was just around the corner.

While playing the part of Anita was difficult for Auerbach, one of her actor friends who worked for a different company, was relishing in his role. And although he admitted many people didn't believe him, it made for a light-hearted conversation that kept clients on the phone. Rather than making clients laugh, Auerbach's psychic hotline became a place where the lonely would talk about their problems sometimes for an entire hour.


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One example was a woman named Judy who called in the middle of the night. By the end of the call Auerbach knew all about her dead husband and ungrateful children. Comfort: Erin, pictured with her two dogs, found herself providing a sympathetic ear to lonely clients. They just wanted to talk to a friendly voice,' she added. Auerbach did her best to keep calls from those in serious despair short, giving clients toll free helplines to contact instead. As well as the lonely, and the angry skeptics who would call up just to shout at her, Auerbach encountered several men under the impression that all premium rate phone lines served the same purpose.

While these dodgy callers panted down the phone, asking if she knew what they were doing, Auerbach would continue with the tarot reading until meeting her ten-minute target. After that, she would end the reading and say 'Oh yeah, I know what you're doing. Her future as a telephone tarot reader was cut short thanks to a mysterious stranger from Alaska who had called for advice and unwittingly gave Auerbach the help she needed to see a new future for herself.


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The year-old had wanted to know whether he should enlist in the military to help pay for college. As he talked about his parents' death and longing to find a place where he would fit in, Auerbach found herself relating to his plight. Chance encounter: A phone call from a young man desperate to fit in made Erin realize she couldn't continue as a telephone psychic. I identified with his uncertainty, his searching for a place to fit in, and his desire to escape, but I had a safety net.

I had enough trouble with my own. When he asked what the cards were saying to do, Auerbach told him she couldn't help and suggested he went to family and friends for advice. The encounter made her end the young man's call and vow to never work as a phone psychic again. The views expressed in the contents above are those of our users and do not necessarily reflect the views of MailOnline.

Confessions of a fake psychic: Aspiring actress reveals how she played part of tarot card reader to improve her fortune Premium phone line attracted the lonely, the perverted and angry skeptics Erin Auerbach's role as mystic 'Anita' was to keep callers on line for as long as possible By Daily Mail Reporter Published: BST, 2 November Updated: BST, 2 November e-mail 29 View comments.

Psychic phone line: Erin was employed to do tarot readings for callers. Share this article Share. Read more: The lies I told as a psychic. Share or comment on this article: Confessions of a fake psychic: Aspiring actress reveals how she played part of tarot card reader to improve her fortune e-mail.

It was 2 a. I predicted that she would travel and meet a new soul mate. Actually, I was a failed actor.

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Long before "Glee" made choir dorks seem cool or at least profitable , I sang show tunes and mugged my way through high school in unflattering dresses and character shoes. In college, I was cut from my musical theater program, and though I graduated with a bachelor of fine arts, I couldn't be satisfied without a theater degree. My ego needed it. I also feared that a real job with a desk, entry-level salary and k would become my permanent station in life -- as if working at an insurance company or bank right out of college would handcuff me to that industry for the next 50 years.

So I moved to Las Vegas, which seemed like the perfect place to hide from the grown-up world. Knowing my parents would only support such nonsense if I stayed in school, I enrolled at UNLV -- also known locally as the University of Never Leaving Vegas -- to pursue a master's degree in theater. Lacking the abs of steel required to pull off the tight, shiny getups of the Vegas showgirl, I took a variety of odd part-time jobs. Then I played the role of a soda jerk at the World of Coca-Cola museum, where angry tourists heckled me once they learned that I wasn't actually allowed to serve them anything to drink.

Could it be true? Or was this some sort of telemarketing scheme? I called the number. A friendly man assured me that this was completely legit. Yes, I had seen the commercials. My brothers and I mocked the company's spokeswoman Dionne Warwick. When we were little kids, our parents took us to one of her performances at a Lake Tahoe hotel.

She sang a few songs, coughed and asked for water. It was a short show, and my parents were disappointed they had wasted money on it. There were times I suspected things were going to happen before they did. But did knowing my family was going to throw me a surprise party for my 15th birthday count as mystic instinct?

I called my mom for advice. She wouldn't hesitate to tell me if she thought this was a bad idea. We both believed in psychics. In fact, one of my mother's closest friends had this power. Although Grace was elderly and forgetful, she was truly clairvoyant. She even adopted a rottweiler for protection because of a premonition she had about being robbed.

One day she left the dog at home, and she was held up. I attended one short training session, where I filled out a form so I could become an independent contractor. That sounded so glamorous, until I learned that this meant I would get reamed when it came time to file my taxes. The trainer said that some of their contractors made thousands of dollars and worked constantly.

He stressed that we didn't necessarily have to be psychic to do the job; we could learn how to perform a tarot card reading to achieve the same effect. I bought a deck along with an instruction booklet at one of those psychic specialty bookstores that sells more crystals than books. I also had to get rid of call waiting. Aside from the obvious distraction, it posed too big a risk of disconnecting conversations. Callers got my undivided attention.

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Considering I couldn't tell the future, it was the least I could offer. The main thrust of the job entailed keeping clients on the phone for as long as possible. By the time I joined the number business in , laws had been passed to automatically end the calls after an hour. Too many sad sacks had racked up thousands of dollars in phone bills they would never be able to pay. After lots of complaints, the government intervened. The company lured callers with the promise of three free minutes, but as soon as they heard the beep, the meter started.

I never made it that far. The trainer had also suggested that I create a nom de phone. So clients knew me as Anita, the name of one of the nurses at UCLA Medical Center who cared for my father in the first days after his liver transplant. I associated her with kindness, healing and nurturing, a good omen.

At the beginning of each conversation, I told callers to ask me a question, shuffled tarot cards and tried to interpret what they meant. Anita had only positive things to say about everyone's future. Trust me, no one wanted to hear otherwise. I had never called a psychic hotline, but Mom's friend Grace had read for me in person.

Confessions of a Phony Telephone Psychic

She didn't use cards. Positive or not, I didn't always agree with what she said. Naturally, I liked the occasional bits of conversation when she told me the things I most wanted to hear, like that I was going to eventually find lasting love. So I gave every card a positive spin. How exciting!

You've overcome a lot. This means good things are going to happen for you. In response to what most women wanted to hear, I said: "Well, of course you'll find love.