Astrologer, podcast host, and founder of spiritual blog Souliminati, Esoteric Esa pens a letter asking for support for the spiritual community following a surge in social media scammers. She, along with other Latina spiritual practitioners, have been the victims of fake accounts assuming their identities and reaching out to followers to offer readings in exchange for payment. These accounts often take avatars, posts, and bio info from real accounts with seemingly no monitoring from Instagram leading spiritual workers to call upon their community to report these fake accounts to prevent their supporters from falling victim to them.
The Los Angeles Times reported on the issue stating that Black and brown spiritual practitioners were the ones primarily affected. A spokesperson for Meta (formerly Facebook, which also owns Instagram) told the Times, “We know there’s more to do here, which is why we keep working to prevent abuse and keep our community safe.” Instagram has not responded to HipLatina’s request for comment. Here Esoteric Esa shares the negative impact these scammers have had on BIPOC spiritual communities and the work Instagram needs to do to prevent this from continuing to happen. She also highlights some of the ways to detect scammer accounts.
Instagram scammers have surged since 2021 and it’s hurting the spiritual Latinx community on social media. Scammers are harassing spiritual Latinx and Indigenous creators and their resilient communities by messaging followers of spiritual workers and offering readings after payment is made. By the lack of action to create online safety for these communities who have been historically systematically oppressed, Instagram has proven that they don’t value the Latinx spiritual community and are complacent in perpetuating harm onto Latinx and Indigenous users.
Instagram’s lack of developing an ethos to protect and create sovereignty for Black and brown spirituality needs to be called out for what it is. Instagram is complacent in the harm against Latinx, Indigenous, and POC spiritual communities for not taking stronger action against spiritual scammer accounts targeting these vulnerable communities that Instagram is very aware of.
Our people are tired, wounded and finding their way back to their spirits. Instagram’s online communities of Latinx astrologers, brujx, psychics and healers have worked hard to foster safe online communities only to be smeared by Instagram’s silence in this spiritual war against scammers. Developing intuitive discernment has long been lost culturally, tarnished and dismembered by way of colonization, organized religion and assimilation.
As we find our way back to trusting our intuition after long Catholic and Christian harm, our communities lack of intuitive development only seems to be further abused by these scammers and Instagram. Our self-sovereignty is being threatened by the harmful passive participation of Instagram by a lack of action that allows scammers to continue preying off Latinx, Indigenous and people of color in spirituality.
Innocent people have been scammed and have lost money due to these scammers and spiritual workers are tasked with protecting their work and identity while also having to educate their followers on this perpetual threat. Spiritual creators and businesses are in a constant battle of having to spend energy and brand awareness around warning their followers to beware of weekly scammer accounts. It’s draining.
Instagram, why are you not hearing the voices and cries of your spiritual Latinx, Indigenous and people of color communities? Silence is complacency. Instagram we call for you to implement better software, community guidelines and online protection for Latinx, Indigenous and people of color.
Our spirituality of omenship, brujeria, and non-traditional healing is part of respecting our cultures. Instagram, we demand you help our communities be able to easily identify predators on your platform. Hand out verification check marks more willingly to spiritual creators! Scammers are capitalizing off the spirits and work of spiritual creators who deserve verification. Why is verification only reserved for celebrities, wealthy and the well connected?
In the meantime, we as people of color, must focus on trusting our gut and identifying when scammer accounts likely prey on us. How can you identify a scammer account? Below are some key red flags to keep in mind as we continue to combat online spiritual scammers.
- Check the dates posts first started going up on the account as they will likely be recent. Usually within days or hours of creating the fake account after they’ve had time to screenshot and plagiarize work of spiritual creators.
- They will reach out to you first. No legit tarot reader, magic worker or spiritual practitioner is going to bother you for money or a reading.
- You’re being fear mongered into spending more money. They will convince you you’re cursed or need more spiritual work done in order to get more money out of you.
- Their Zelle or Venmo names will be different so they aren’t traced.
- Engagement will be low with hardly any likes, interactions, or comments.
- The follower count won’t match the follower count of the creator they are impersonating.
Instagram we demand you to do better and amplify the safety of your Latinx, Indigenous and people of color spiritual communities.