Presumably, any given mystic falls into one of two categories: true believer or scam artist. It's foolish to think that this is a categorization that can be made at first glance. Spotting a good scammer is near impossible, unless they tell you outright.
Content Note: Explicit Content
On this episode of Here Be Monsters, Jeff Emtman has a conversation with an internet mystic who identifies as scam artist. Vice would call him an "Etsy witch"; he calls himself a "haunted demon seller." Regardless, he doesn't give out his real name.
For the purpose of this story, let's just call him "Malibu Ron." Malibu makes his living selling trinkets supposedly imbued with spirits: sex demons, werewolves, mermaids, djinn, vampires, etc. They aren't. Malibu sells his intangible beings and spells online for as little as $5 and as much as $11,000.
Malibu got into the business of internet mysticism about 10 years ago while he was very sick. He had to take extended medical leave from work. In his months of recovery, he read a lot online and discovered Etsy Witching. As a joke, he posted a cheap ring imbued with a sex demon. It sold for $12. He decided not to go back to his old job and instead focus on becoming a full-time witch. He now manages many (he won't tell us how many) identities and stores online.
Malibu feels no guilt about his scam. He has a moral line and he doesn't cross it. No death curses, no sex enslavement of real people, and no spells to heal the terminally ill. He doesn't sell things that could make him feel guilty. And further, he says his clients are mostly rich. And he says his clients believe in magic because it protects them from realizing their cosmic insignificance. Malibu doesn't believe in magic (except for God, and maybe aliens).
Malibu says that he lives well, but that he's no Donald Trump-- he's not rich. He spends his money on shoes. He values his personal collection of Nike Dunk SBs and Air Jordans at over $20,000. Several of his pairs are one-offs, meaning he's the only one in the world who owns them. But his home, his clothing, and all of his other outward appearances (apart from the shoes) are modest.
Most of his clients are happy with his services, though Malibu does receive occasional death threats when his spells don't work. He says many of his clients would likely benefit from therapy and that, for some, magic rings may take on that role.