She's one of the most popular reality stars on TV today. For three seasons now, Theresa Caputo, the Long Island Medium, has amazed viewers and brought people to tears by communicating messages from beyond.
"I have a very special gift. I talk to the dead," Caputo says on her hit series.
A large part of Caputo’s success comes from her own vivid personality, and the fact that she says she hears from ghosts in the strangest places, like the beauty parlor, and even at the dentist.
And sometimes, the spirits can apparently make furniture move. In one incident, a table flies/moves across the room. "I know it was Marie's grandmother that moved that table," she explained to her TV audience.
With her platinum blond hair and fake nails, America's favorite psychic is popping up everywhere.
Kelly Ripa recently dressed like her for Halloween special, and she's even been the subject of a hilarious spoof on Saturday Night Live.
So is the Long Island Medium really communicating with those who have passed on, or is she simply using trickery to fool the living? INSIDE EDITION decided to see what happens at her popular live readings across the country. What we saw was starkly different from what viewers see on her TV show.
On TV, she's almost always dead right, but at her live shows, we watched her strike out time and again.
Caputo asked one audience member, "Is your mom also departed?" "My mom? No, she's with us," said the audience member.
"Is your mom departed?" she asked another fan. The woman responded, "My mom? No, she's still with us."
Caputo asked another audience member, "Did they pass one right after the other?" to which the audience member responded by shaking their head 'no.'
She asked one person, "Was this on your mother's side." "No, my dad's," she replied.
"I know a trick when I see one," said Mark Edward, after watching the L.I. Medium’s live show. Edward once made a living as a psychic, but he's now coming forward to reveal the secrets that he says some psychics use to convince people they really do communicate with the dead.
Edward believes one technique Theresa Caputo uses is a classic trick called "cold reading." It’s done by firing-off open-ended questions that someone in a large audience will surely relate to, like a number.
"How do you connect with the number 2? Is it the month of February? The day?" Caputo asked an audience member.
Inevitably someone raises a hand.
Later she asked, "How do you connect with the number 10, the month October? Oh, your house number is 10. Oh, I'll accept that!"
INSIDE EDITION’s Lisa Guerrero asked Edward, "What is she doing when she throws out a large number into the audience?"
"It’s called the law of large numbers. If you have a group of 400 to 500 people in a room, you can say anything," he explained.
Another technique that Caputo uses according to Edward is called "piggy-backing."
Caputo told an audience member, "We're going to piggyback here okay. This is a form of piggy-backing."
When Caputo gets something wrong, Edward says she tries to save face by saying the message from the "spirit" must have been meant for someone else.
"This is an example of piggy-backing. When the spirits piggy-back they will give me things you can't connect with but others can," Caputo said at one of her shows.
"Piggy-backing is a brilliant excuse," says Edward.
Just how easy it is for someone, anyone really, to claim psychic powers? INSIDE EDITION invited two dozen people to a psychic reading by Mark Edward and told them he can speak to the dead.
"Who's the dancer that I'm getting?" asked Edward. "My husband," replied a woman in the audience.
Mark later asked, "Is there a Rachel in the room? Oh, is that you?" "Yeah," replied one woman.
It didn't take long for Edward to convince the audience that he can channel the dead.
"I'm getting something with a wrist," said to a young woman, who’s grandmother had long passed. "Did she break her wrist?" "She did break her wrist," said a woman.
Mark asked, "Someone just lost a pet. Was it you?" The woman nodded in agreement.
At the end of our little show, Mark Edward fesses up. "I made all that up. I did this for a reason, to show how easy it is to fool people."
But even with that some people still weren't convinced.
Guerrero asked, "How many still believe?" Many in the audience raised their hands. "I'm still a true believer," said one woman.
So the next time you watch Theresa Caputo, the Long Island Medium, enjoy it for the entertainment, but you may want to take it with a giant grain of salt.
The Long Island medium, Theresa Caputo sent us a statement saying... "I respect and understand skeptics. I'm not trying to prove anything to anyone, that's not why I do what I do. I feel, and have been told by my clients, that my gift has really helped them, and that's all that matters to me."