Over a number of years I have exposed the crimes of one Josh Hoopes of California in the comic book industry. Initially his scam was to both post and answer “artist wanted” ads. He would quote very low prices to writers and publishers to provide work, and very high prices to artists looking for work. He would get the artist to work from the script he got from the writer/publisher and begin forwarding the pages. He would demand money from the writer/publisher to keep delivering pages, but none of that would reach the real artist. He would then vanish with the money. The artist was never paid and would give it up as a bad job. The publisher would possibly have an incomplete work, some went so far as to publish it, only to be confronted by the real artist asking where their money was.
In one twist he then posed as the artist Art Adams, soliciting very cheap cover work for publishers such as Penny Farthing, Desperado and Tokyo Pop – the latter of whom came so close to soliciting an Art Adams cover that wasn’t by Art Adams. And also didn’t much look like his work either
Josh Hoopes used a number of identities, catalogued over the years by my investigations. We have his photo, we’ve contacted his friends and family, we have his voice on the phone, we’ve handed all our information over to the proper authorities when the opportunity has presented itself.
And then Josh Hoopes goes to ground. We hadn’t heard from him for over a year. But he’s back in a big way.
Posing as the name David Johnson and pretending to work for Wizard World, he has been offering to publish the work of unknown writers using the Wizard World brand. He posted on Freelanced.com and ArtWanted.com, purporting to be in Fresno, California;
Hello there!!!! My name is David johnson and I am part of the creative team and creative talent scout for Wizard Magazine and various industry houses. we will bill launching a creative story talent search here in the next few weeks and are letting any and all story creators know that now is the time to get your foot in the door!! That’s right if you think you have that great story that deserves recognition, then now is your chance. we have teamed up with a group of artist such as Mark sylvestri, bob layton and more to help in the process. if you have a creative team then great all we are asking is a full story proposal of 10 or more pages. Plus synopsis. remember hundreds and thousands of readers will be viewing and judging your work, as well as our stafff. So we are offering these industry artists work at a very reduced rate. The pay off is that every one will be seeing your book with the art of a pro instead of your friend from down the block, right. Please be serious and keep all questions to a minimum. Be professional and patient i will get back to everyone. Cheers. David Johnson email@example.com
One writer contacted Johnson to be told that he had been picked out of thousands of submissions and would have to pay $3,500 to acquire the services of a top professional artist but that, as a creator owned comic, the revenue would more than pay for that. Johnson claims that he was working in association with Marvel, DC and Image Comics.
The writer, living in South Africa was persuaded to pay $1,700 to a Paypal account earlier this afternoon. After doing so, it was revealed that the recipient of the Paypal account was one Josh Hoopes.
One google search later, I got a panicky e-mail from the writer.
Josh Hoopes has been using the email address firstname.lastname@example.org and the Paypal address email@example.com. Does anyone know the people at Paypal who may be able to put a stop on such an account and possibly even refund people?
I don’t know who else has been conned. Who else is being conned. Who else is about to be conned. So, please, be warned. And please tweet, digg, reddit, whatever, as much as you can.
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