Auction, storage and collectors shows are all the rage right now. You can’t hit channel up or down more than five times without hitting a show like American Pickers, Pawn Stars, Storage Wars, Auction Hunters or a hundred different other knockoffs and imitators. Some of them are good, some ridiculous and a few are less reality and more like a cross between Antiques Roadshow and Jersey Shore – and then there’s ‘Haunted Collector’ on Syfy. John Zaffis visits potentially haunted houses, finds the objects that are causing trouble in each house and takes them to his paranormal museum in New England. Problem is, it doesn’t appear that Zaffis actually pays for these items. Is Syfy airing a television show where a man with some knowledge of antiques is taking valuable items from scared dupes?
Here’s how the scam works – John Zaffis visits a potentially ‘haunted’ home and chats with the homeowners about their issues. Some of these people are incredibly vulnerable. In the episode I watched, there was a woman who claimed several of her relatives had died in the six months before his visit. These people then give Jaffis a tour of the home and tell him of the strange occurrences and unexplained events that led to their meeting. Meanwhile, Zaffis is eyeing the most valuable (and possibly haunted!) collectibles in each home. He plays the nice guy and consoles the wounded family, promising to get his ‘team’ on the case. The ‘team’ arrives with a bunch of phony equipment and puts on a show for the cameras. Another team member, operating from home base, does research about the family and any collectibles Jaffis picks out and inevitably returns with some sort of horror story. The ‘Haunted Collector’ seals the deal and finalizes the scam by telling the family that these collectibles are the source of their troubles – antique cane guns, antique toilets, anything with value is deemed ‘dangerous’ – and he offers to relieve them of this paranormal millstone which he will put on display at his occult museum.
And what does he charge for this amazing service?
We do not charge for conducting an investigation. We will ask for travel reimbursement, which can include gas, airline tickets, phone and tolls. We generally travel by car whenever possible to keep the costs to a minimum. Due to the reality that there are always those who can not financially reimburse this amount, the fee will vary on case by case basis.
Wow! What a deal! You fly him and his team to your home, give them some spending cash and give up some of your valuables and he’ll pretend that ghosts and spirits exist and walk around with fake equipment. In one episode, the ‘haunted’ item was an 1870’s european cane gun, which appears to have been worth about $650. But the big money comes from using this paranormal treasure to promote his books, radio show, television show and public appearances. Odds are, John Zaffis is bringing in a pretty decent paycheck when all is said and done.
I can’t think of a more slimy way to make a living. Putting aside the fact that all things paranormal are bullshit, some of these people seem truly afraid of the unknown. They have children and loved ones in a house they believe, for one reason or another, is haunted. They seem clueless as this huckster convinces them that a prize possession is the root of all their problems and relieved as he hugs them and assures them all will be well now. How can people be so foolish?
The difference between ‘Haunted Collector’ and the other shows in this new crop of reality TV winners is obvious. No one gets hurt when the guys from American Pickers rescue a rusty bicycle from the swamps of Louisiana. No one is taken advantage of when the team at Pawn Stars has an expert place a value on an antique item and the seller agrees to let it go for a negotiated price. Even the grimier shows like Tru TV’s Hardcore Pawn offer a service to the community. John Zaffis offers nothing but phony reassurances in exchange for valuable goods. He uses people in precarious situations to further his career and fill his museum up with amazing collectibles. And he does it all on television! Not since John Edward’s Crossing Over has there been a show so ridiculous on television. If the ‘Haunted Collector’ was any kind of decent man, he’d (at the very least) pay a fair price for these items and quit using fear to fill his coffers.
Anyone else feel like the reality TV paranormal thing is out of control?