Over 9,000 cases of fraud and deception carried out by astrologers and so-called mediums or magicians (maghi) have been reported to the anti-consumer fraud (antiplagio) phone-line in its nine years of activity. The most common misdeeds reported are tax evasion, unlawful exercise of a professional trade, fraud, extortion and misleading advertising. But few of these complaints are then made to the police for fear of blackmail and threats. The average age of the victims is 47, and only 14 per cent of them hold a professional diploma or university degree.
It is estimated that there are 7,000 astrologers and maghi who publicise on the radio, TV, newspapers or internet in Italy, and another 15,000 more who do not advertise. Most of the known astrologers (41 per cent) operate in the north of the country, with 31 per cent in the centre, and 28 per cent in the south.
According to the phone-lines report every day over 27,000 people turn to these "professionals" for various problems, ranging from: love life (37 per cent) and requests for protection (28 per cent), to health (21 per cent) and work-related problems (14 per cent). Women are the most likely to seek help (57 per cent) followed by men (39 per cent) and children (4 per cent).