Scam Of The Year – The 14th Annual Rumour Awards

Scam Of The Year

So who has been left out of pocket by the work of ne'er-do-wells this year?

The year began with UK toy and merchandise store Mother's Basement ceasing trading, leaving hundreds of people out of pocket of hundreds, even thousands of dollars each. But before making it official, the company registered itself as a limited company, so as to reduce the personal impact on the directors of the upcoming wave of debt. And then threatened to sue people who complained about being owed products or money which did more to add them to this list than anything else. Nevertheless both still announced personal bankruptcy later in the year.

Thankfully avoided similar issues by having their unfulfilled orders taken on by DCBS.

Michael Pearson has gone to ground after his scam was exposed by Bleeding Cool, in which he recruited artists with fake promises (and paperwork) that he had signed a deal with Dark Horse Comics. No such deal existed, even as artists were drawing work for free, based on the deal.

There was a "Scott Underwood", selling fake housing bookings for San Diego Comic Con, that even managed to scam one of our own reporters. More seriously, there was a criminal organisation targeting comic con attendees in their bulk with similar purpose…

Talking of Kickstarter, the artist John Campbell was apparently suffering a number of personal issues Nevertheless, his decision to burn hundreds of donor copies of his rather late comic because people were asking him where their copy was, kicked him onto this list.

But this year also saw the return of repeat-Kickstarter scammer Jesse Grillo with… a guide to succeeding on Kickstarter. Which customers seemed to eventually realise was also a scam.

Not all scams deprived people of anything, save their dignity, Mark Millar's scam to promote the first issue of Starlight, by persuading an elderly woman (possibly a relative) to have the first cover painted on her back, and having her pose as a "granny fan" of comics with her own YouTube channel, and her back tattooed with said cover, was exposed as fake as the video was filmed in his own recognisable house, the tattoo was clearly a fake and the subsequent YouTube episodes never occurred and her Twitter account stopped suddenly as well…


But then there were the conventions.

Rhode Island Comic Con was more of a cock-up than a scam, as they sold more tickets than could enter the show at any one point, but deleting complaints from their Facebook page saw them try to massage their image. Then there was the Super Fan Comic Con in Toronto, with such a poor experience for vendors and sellers that people certainly felt scammed, with accusations of misselling, abusing vendors and deleting all negative expressions on their Facebook page. They are hoping to return, learning from their many mistakes.And finally, the Marvel Experience in Scottsdale Arizona also take a similar attitude to criticism when it came to significant diappointment, but at least they refunded folks who complained. None of these folk set out to rip people off, but by deleting criticism, they created a fake facade of how the show was playing out, which saw them added to this list. But then here was the Doctor Who Event that promised guests such as Colin Baker who had never been approached and wouldn't be available anyway, as well as the organiser selling pirated Doctor Who episodes on memory sticks. We managed to prevent a lot of people losing their money. And the show never actually happened…

Epic-Con Ohio Geek Fest in Dayton, Ohio was different, they also seemed to have a similar approach to criticism, and there was plenty, especially when they couldn't get the guests they'd promised in, and told attendees that they had cancelled when, in fact, they hadn't even managed to get the flights sorted. The show was clearly underfunded in terms of cash flow but they went ahead anyway. Epic Fail.

Serial conman Josh Hoopes returned, this time posing as one Samitri Banks, single mother artist, and offering work for a number of projects on Kickstarter, and commissioning art from others to fill that need. Taking the money for the work, not paying the artists with no one realising what is happening until it's too late. Except we were able to kill a number of deals, dead . We have not seen him operate since April.

But out-Josh Hooping Josh Hoopes had to be David Eugene Wilson, of Logan Props. From taking cosplayer money and never fulfilling commissions, for swiping designs to eventually delivering goods that are not as promised, this is the face of the worst consumer service in cosplay on the planet.


There were a few Rob Granito-like characters this year, such as two Canadians Lost Droid and Chantella Viala as well as Mike Kingleschmidt exhibiting at Cherry Capital Comic Con. But they pale in insignificance compared to the industrial nature of one Los Angeles operation.

Because the winners of Bleeding Cool's Scam Of The Year was as a result of El Paso's Mayhem Toyz And Games was caught in the net of selling pieces of art ripped off from DeviantArt and the like. They took the same old tactic of trying to delete criticism from their Facebook page rather than do anything about the problem, before eventually pointing the finger at Frank & Son of Los Angeles, who we were able to confirm was involved as a vendor at their own show in selling industrial levels of ripped off artwork – and continue to do so. And so are this year's winner.



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About Rich Johnston

Founder of Bleeding Cool. The longest-serving digital news reporter in the world, since 1992. Author of The Flying Friar, Holed Up, The Avengefuls, Doctor Who: Room With A Deja Vu, The Many Murders Of Miss Cranbourne, Chase Variant. Lives in South-West London, works from Blacks on Dean Street, shops at Piranha Comics. Father of two. Political cartoonist.
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