Why Long Island Medium Is Fake

They say "the higher the hair the closer to God," but in Theresa Caputo's case, the higher the hair, the closer you are to the spirit world. With her sky-high platinum locks and nails as sharp as her affinity for curse words, it's pretty hard to forget the Long Island Medium. Caputo was the star of her own show on TLC, which followed her attempts at juggling family life and her claimed ability to communicate with the deceased. Though we don't have psychic powers, we know what you're thinking — TLC really has a show for everything. "Long Island Medium" was a hit for viewers, and ran for almost a decade, up until 2019. Nowadays, Caputo stays busy traveling the world with her live show, "Theresa Caputo Live! The Experience," and her podcast "Hey Spirit!"

While her outgoing personality makes for great reality TV, it's not enough to save her from the skeptics who believe her communication with spirits is as fake as her manicure. Caputo has faced her fair share of criticism, but the New Yorker has yet to let the naysayers stop her. She's been offered millions of dollars to prove her "gift," but she won't budge. "I will never prove or defend my gift," she told the Des Moines Register. So the question remains — is Caputo actually a medium, or is she exploiting the grief (and checkbooks) of others for her own personal gain? We've compiled all the reasons why skeptics say the Long Island Medium is fake.

Theresa Caputo's full of contradictions

Theresa Caputo says she communicates with the dead by using a "vocabulary of signs and symbols." She often determines what spirit she's speaking to by asking clients to relate to a letter of the alphabet, a number, or a month, and having them attach meaning to whatever symbol the so-called spirit is giving her. But why would a deceased soul want to play guessing games when the vessel of communication —Caputo — is already there to relay the message? She asks quite a lot of questions for someone who claims the spirit "moves through" her.

Caputo says she communicates information the way it comes to her, but it's random and inconsistent. The so-called souls start by supposedly speaking in vague codes before suddenly making crystal clear statements. In this reading filmed for TLC, she asks a couple "do you connect with numbers or license plates" and ends the reading by relaying that their deceased son wants them to work on their marriage. Dancing around information turns into direct proclamations like, "I love you," or "I appreciate what you did for me." When you're desperate for a message from your loved one, you're not nitpicking the methods of how it's given to you. So while Caputo's charming and witty, it's those same qualities that skeptics believe distract people from seeing her "non-abilities."

Hollywood is underwhelmed with her abilities

Theresa Caputo has done her fair share of shmoozing with Hollywood's elite, giving live readings on high-profile talk shows and podcasts. But some celebrities are less than impressed with the boisterous blonde. According to Radar Online, Howard Stern refused to allow the Long Island Medium on his show when she demanded alone time with the audience before taping. "We're not interested in leaving people alone with the Long Island psychic for 45 minutes," Stern said. "She's never coming in here. ... The Long Island psychic is not a psychic."

Anderson Cooper did host Caputo on his show in 2012, but his reaction was less than enthusiastic. "I'm pretty skeptical about all the psychic medium stuff," he said in a backstage interview. "If you say to a room of 300 people ... somebody here has ashes of a loved one, there's a pretty good chance somebody has a piece of jewelry with some ashes in it. ... People so want to believe in things but ... I want to see actual proof."

"Anderson Live" posted a video clip of a reading where Caputo asks a man if his late wife had a leg issue. When he responds that she had a gallbladder problem, Caputo quickly diverts attention and moves on from him to ask other audience members the same question. When one woman shook her head, Caputo said, "You don't have to acknowledge it ... I don't care if you believe in what I do."

She gets it wrong

Hundreds of Long Island Medium fans fill up theaters around the country to see "Theresa Caputo Live! The Experience," but are they all still believers by the end of the night? Some Ticketmaster reviews seem to indicate otherwise. "She kept trying to prove or impress on people that she was for real saying I don't care if you believe me, it's spirit," one attendee wrote. "I left with a sadness that I let myself believe she was something she wasn't."

People who have seen Caputo live say she misses a lot of marks, appearing a lot less sharp than on her TV show, which makes sense, as TLC has full creative control to edit her into a believable medium to help sell their show. It certainly wouldn't do the network good to air episodes where she's grasping at straws.

Journalist Jessica Remo saw Caputo in New Jersey and compared it to "spiritual whack-a-mole," writing in her NJ.com piece, "Any time something was wrong for one person, it was right for someone else and that person stood up." However, the Long Island Medium certainly checks the box for entertainment, which some say makes up for her inaccuracy. "As upset as I found myself as Caputo failed again and again to land most of her messages, I did find something about her endearing," Remo wrote. "You want her to connect. You want her to nail something specific. You want to be wowed. But it just didn't happen."

Her staff is in on it

Multiple sources have alleged that Theresa Caputo obtains information from her staff before her readings and live shows. One distraught woman spoke to Radar Online about her reading, saying an assistant prompted her to tell all the details of her late husband's passing prior to meeting Caputo and promising she wouldn't relay anything to her. "She didn't hit on anything surprising, and became very agitated and angry when I shut her down. I refused to fake it and cry 'Oh my God, you're right!'" the source revealed.

Kirby Robinson, a paranormal investigator and author of "Is The Long Island Medium The Real Deal," noticed something fishy when he attended Caputo's live show. The skeptic wrote that he noticed nicely dressed people mingling with the audience asking detailed questions before the show began, and attempted to follow them. "The person walks casually away mixing with the ever-growing crowd. We follow at a safe distance, as whoever this person is, they are good, occasionally glancing behind them," he detailed. Robinson followed them as far as a security line where the questioner flashed a badge and disappeared.

Another audience member noticed something amiss and took to Ticketmaster reviews to dish on the experience. "We noticed husband Larry walking around the theater as if scoping out who she should focus on. No revelations at our show, I got the impression it is all just a performance and obviously a money maker for her," the attendee wrote.

Theresa Caputo uses a technique called cold reading

Theresa Caputo's alleged psychic powers are nothing new to her critics, who say she uses a method called cold reading to get her information. Mark Edward, a former psychic and author of "Psychic Blues: Confessions of a Conflicted Medium," confessed he used the method himself when he spoke on "The Jordan Harbinger Show." "I immediately give them the once over, I look at their shoes, their hair, their clothes ... generally before they even sit down at the table I know everything I need to know about them." Edward believes that the Long Island Medium uses this same method, profiling people and picking up on clues from them instead of actually talking to spirits. 

Journalist Jaime Franchi had an open mind after a previous experience with a medium, but when she attended Caputo's live show, she was anything but convinced. "Caputo threw out more questions to the audience ... that, when they weren't met with nods of agreement, became described as merely symbols of other, more general things," she wrote in the Long Island Press. If Caputo missed the mark, she quickly covered her tracks. "For example, she asked a grieving mother who had lost her grown son, 'Why do I feel like you are holding him when he died?' When the woman shrugged, Caputo quickly covered by saying that that means he believes that she was always there for him," Franchi wrote. Caputo sure knows how to play to an audience.

She likely uses a secret seating chart at her live shows

In today's world, obtaining information about people is fairly easy. Buying a ticket to any show involves relinquishing a certain level of personal details, something former psychic Mark Edward said most likely helped Theresa Caputo engage in hot readings. Edward worked with Inside Edition on a sting operation (via Skeptical Inquirer) and alleged that Caputo's team is using ticket transactions to gather information about the people who sit in the front rows of her live shows. "Our own egocentric fascination with ourselves makes it easy for the techie-smart agent or producer to make seeming miracles happen," Edward explained.

The investigator once made a living off being a psychic, and now he's using his former tricks to debunk the Long Island Medium. He picked up on Caputo's questionable behavior, saying, "At one point Theresa asked a woman, 'Why am I picking up baby clothes?' To which the woman replied, 'Oh, that's weird. I just put up a bunch of pictures of baby clothes on my Facebook page!' Not weird at all, really."

Edward is not the only skeptic who has noticed something amiss at Caputo's live shows, either. "It just seemed like there were certain people 'planted' near guests to pick up when the guests were not giving the right responses. She also seemed like she walked directly to certain people," one attendee wrote in part in a post-show review.

She's a performer, not a psychic

Theresa Caputo is witty, funny, and self-deprecating. She knows how to connect with people, and even if you don't believe in her, she's certainly not boring. "She told funny jokes. She was sassy. She cursed. She could be from Jersey, I thought. Most of the audience was entranced. I've been entertained by the show and watched more than a dozen episodes, even if I never fully bought in," Jessica Remo wrote for NJ.com.

If she is pulling a fast one on the thousands of people that fill up her arena tours (not to mention the tickets ranging from 150 to nearly 300 dollars), she'd have to at least be captivating. After all, who would fork over a couple Benjamins for just anybody? "She is a pleasant personality, and she needs to continue to be because her show sucked," one review read in part. Striding through the front rows in sparkly Louboutin stilettos, going where she claims spirit leads her, she quickly brings people to tears. Whether or not she actually speaks to the dead, she makes you believe she does. A penny for your thoughts, or, in Caputo's case, much more for your grief. 

Nothing is negative

Theresa Caputo defends herself against critics by saying that she makes people feel better, which even those against her can't deny. "If it makes you feel better to talk bad about me, that's fine," Caputo told Kam Loops This Week. "But there have been people who don't want to live anymore and they come to a live show, come and have their own personal experience, and after having that, they are able to live their life with peace and joy."

But the living and the dead never exchange any harsh sentiments with the Long Island Medium, either at her live shows or on television. Caputo states she only encounter spirits that are either sorry or forgiving, always echoing the same sentiment: That they want their loved ones to move forward. "I always say it is not my fault or spirit's fault that there are only so many ways that people can die and common burdens and guilt that we might carry," Caputo told Good Housekeeping

The Long Island Medium also claims she only connects with positive spirits. However, the TLC star told Kam Loops This Week she did once encounter the soul of a murderer when she gave a reading in the home where it occurred. "I could see and I could feel the presence, but I could not hear or feel anything he wanted me to because I only channel souls that walk in God's white light." How convenient. 

She capitalizes on grief

Some people argue that, while Theresa Caputo could be faking it, she's at least bringing peace and comfort to those struggling with loss. Others, however, have a less optimistic view of the Long Island Medium. They see her as a con artist who exploits the grief of others for her own financial gain.

Dr. Karen Stollznow falls into the latter category. Stollznow is a skeptical paranormal investigator and a research fellow for the James Randi Educational Foundation, a non-profit aimed at debunking paranormal claims. She questioned Caputo's legitimacy in an episode in which the reality TV psychic feels attached to a spirit of a young deceased boy and tracks down his mother. "Caputo appears to be greatly distraught by the little boy's constant presence, but she is strangely unavailable for a session until the following week. She spent this week in apparent spiritual agony, yet still had time to have lunch with friends, all the while complaining about her invisible friend," Stollznow wrote on the JREF blog.

Pamela Weinstein echoed similar skeptical sentiments after the grieving mother received a reading from Caputo on "Ellen." Weinstein told Radar Online that the Long Island Medium was off the mark regarding her late son, who was murdered at 3 years old. "She was referring to my son as being much older than he was. ... The reading wasn't anything close to what my son would have wanted me to hear," Weinstein said. "It did not offer closure at all."

There's never any new information

Theresa Caputo's conversations with the dead never seem to bring up any information that is not already known. People keep secrets, like secretly hating an in-law or two. Other secrets go to the grave, like cheating on spouses, hiding debts, or committing horrible crimes. Does Caputo never channel spirits who want to unburden their souls of past mistakes? What about the souls that died tragically in an unsolved murder? 

Maybe the Long Island Medium has asked her so-called "spirit guides" to only transmit shared memories, but others suggest it's just another cop-out for her psychic abilities. With so much mystery surrounding death, doesn't she have more fascinating information for people other than that their grandparents really enjoyed those Fourth of July barbecues?

The 2 million-dollar challenge remains unclaimed, and the Long Island Medium maintains her position of refusing to defend her abilities, despite the many claims against her. "I'm not asking anyone to believe in what I do. Everyone has a right to their own opinion," Caputo told AP News. But she doesn't take kindly to skeptics criticizing her followers. "How can someone tell someone that what they're experiencing isn't real?"