In one case, her target was Chip Coffey, one of those guys like John Edward who claims to be able to talk to your deceased loved ones. A lot of gullible people are impressed by these readings, but there are generally two ways to pull off the trick:
In a cold reading, psychics use information you’re giving them to make further “predictions.” For example, if a woman said her son died unexpectedly at a young age, the psychic might suggest there was a tragic accident involved (because why else might a healthy young person die?).
In a hot reading, the psychics have information about you that you didn’t even know they had. For example, maybe you inadvertently told them about your problems through prayer cards (as James Randi once famously exposed), not realized the psychics were being given the details of what you had written.
That latter method was the gist of Gerbic’s operation: She bought several tickets for one of Coffey’s upcoming live shows. And then she, along with a group of friends in on the sting operation, created a fake Facebook page where they talked about who they were hoping Coffey would reach.