Josh Hoopes has been the bane of my life for well over a decade. Bring yourself up to speed here, but know this. He is a conman, based in Sacramento, California and Peru. With a juvenile criminal record, he began scamming the most vulnerable, comic book artist starting out, and small comic book publishers.
The scam goes like this. He advertises as a comic book artist under an assumed name, showing sample work stolen from other people's sites, at a low page rate. He then advertises for artists at a high page rate. He then sends commissions from the publisher to the artists he has recruited, sends over any art the create but never pays them, and disappears with the money. The publisher, believing they now own the art, publishes it. Some time later the artists discovers this, and figures they have been screwed by the publisher.
Over the years there have been some variants. The time he posed as a recruiter for Wizard Magazine. The time he posed as Art Adams (and managed to con both Tokyo Pop and Desperado Studios). But every time Bleeding Cool has been there, cockblocking his every move.
Bleeding Cool reader John writes,
I recently attempted to commission some work on deviantART from a user named "Scribbles007." The "real" name provided is "Samitra Banks," and the email is firstname.lastname@example.org. We discussed some of the details of the project, and settled on a price of $80 for the finished piece. At that point, the "artist" informed me that I would need to pay half of the money up front and that "she" would prefer a bank transfer rather than Paypal. The whole thing felt a bit off to me, and luckily my brother was around to remind me to image search the pieces featured in "her" portfolio. Low and behold, the pieces were all connected to other artists. Through a little more searching, I stumbled on your website and the several articles that you wrote regarding one Josh Hoopes. As I read through your accounts of his fraudulent actions and con jobs, it all started to sound very familiar to the situation I was dealing with.
This is the website in question. And yes it's him. And, indeed, this current move has been in play since November. Posing as a "Samitra Banks", with an ID on DeviantArt (though no images) she replied to wanted ads linking to this gallery of work, each labelling with "banks" in the filename. Except they are by, amongst others, Ryan Benjamin, Sean Gordon Murphy, previous victim Lalit Kumar Sharma and more.
Samitra Banks has already conned some. Back in November, this was posted on DigitalWebbing by Urbansavage
Just a warning to creators to be extra cautious when paying artists ahead of time for pages. Also, if they claim to have a new Paypal account and to pay them as a friend or family instead of for work delivered, please be wary as well. If they don't have a website or some form of online portfolio (Deviant Art, etc…), that should also provide one with a moment of pause.
We paid someone named Samitra Banks a little under $1k on Oct 2nd to deliver 11 pages (half up front, half at the end for the next 11). We were promised the first of the pages, but have not heard anything now for several weeks now despite numerous pleas to get in touch. I'm now pretty much resigned to the notion that the money is long gone.
Wanted to help the community by issuing a warning to not be so impressed with sample art and so trusting as to throw caution to the wind. It was a dumb move on my part; I'm hoping others won't make the same mistake. It pays to engage in considerably more due diligence than I performed before sending money to someone ahead of time…
That was Josh Hoopes. He really is a shit. Here's the transcript of his conversation with John.
Hey there……. I just read your ad here and would like to apply for the job Included is a link to my portfolio for consideration. If you have any questions or are indeed interested please get back to me here or email me at email@example.com. Thanks for your time and hope to hear back. Samitra.
I took a look at some of your work via the photobucket link you sent, and it's absolutely fantastic. You have an amazing talent, and I love your style.
Anyway, before I go off into a rant about the more specific details of my project, what type of commission are you looking for? I mentioned $50 in my original post, but I suspect your fees and the details of the way you do commissioned work may be different.scribbles007:
Not realy that different in price.. I normaly charge $50 and up depending on the inricacy of the page… For black and white.
I'm sure we could work something out.
Ahh, I see. How much do you typically charge for a colored piece? I'm imagining 3 characters or so, with a somewhat sparse background (since it's space and all). I can do $75, maybe $80 or so. My budget is, unfortunately, not that immense right now.scribbles007:
I can do it for $80 If you can swing that.
Yeah, I can do $80. You've got yourself a deal! I'm very excited to sketch out the details of the project for you, but first, do you have a preferred contract or other details you'd like to iron out? I'm not sure how you typically handle commissions.scribbles007:
Its only one page and not for that much…. so no written contract needed…… i normally work by half down and half when completed or 2/3 up front and the rest at the end….. Also i don't use paypal only bank transfer.
Let me know if that works.
Yeah, that all sounds fine to me. Half up front and the other half and the end, as well as doing a bank transfer should be no problem once you've provided me with the necessary information. I was more just wondering about copyright issues and such. My general thought was simply that I want exclusive rights to use the piece (as in, you won't sell it to someone else for use in a different project) but you are obviously more than welcome to display the piece as part of your portfolio or what not. Does that sound agreeable?scribbles007:Absolutely……….
Shoot me an email so i can give you my bank info and you can give me details to the project, references, Etc…
Sadly, after this point, there was no more contact. Had he been spooked? Possibly. But in case anyone else is currently being conned, it's probably time to run the story.