|goeskaboom (goeskaboom) wrote,|
@ 2014-07-14 13:04:00
I honestly don't even know where to start with this.
People who've followed this blog for some time know that I don't really like much of anything. It would be easier to make a list of things I don't dislike than a list of things I do dislike. But there are some things I hate more than others, and scammers are one of those things. Even more than that, I hate scammers who try to make themselves seem like the victims. Fuck them with a cactus. In the ear.
Over the weekend, there was a fan convention in northern Illinois. Okay, no biggie, right? There are fan convention all the time. And most of the time, they're very fun for the attendees. This one... not so much. The con that happened this weekend was known as DashCon, previously known as Tumbl-Con USA. The name was changed to avoid confusing people into thinking that they were officially affiliated with Tumblr itself. And that was about the last honest, above-board thing that happened at that con.
I do not like the Daily Dot very much, but this is a relatively balanced account of what happened at the con, although the Daily Dot is a lot more willing to go on “this was an honest mistake, not fraud” than I am. To make a long story short, along with a whole lot of other issues, the con's organizers got on stage, claimed that they were going to be kicked out unless they raised $17,000 in an hour, and started begging for money, which they received. Even with all of this last-minute slapdash fundraising, they still didn't have enough money to pay for the hotel rooms of the celebrity guests they invited, couldn't pay the performers, and had to sell pizza at a ridiculous markup to feed the hungry guests. But they apparently had enough money to put a down payment on the convention hall for next year, And not only did they get a convention hall for next year, they upgraded massively, into a convention hall used for massive, already-established conventions in actual industries, that would probably cost even more than $17,000.
Anyone with a rudimentary understanding of business law knows that once a contract has been signed, one party cannot renege on that contract by deciding that they don't like the people they signed the contract with and demand more money. That's not how contracts work. In my (humble and unprofessional opinion), they either never signed a contract, or didn't pay their fair share of the money to book the venue this year, and the hotel realized this belatedly. They could have also given a bad check, and realized what they did, and started trying to extort from the con attendees in order to cover their asses. This is called check kiting, and it's a federal crime, so this should be interesting to see if anything comes of this in the future.
If that wasn't bad enough, they also did not have enough money to rent the rooms for their high-profile guests, or even pay them. Welcome to Night Vale, a popular podcast, ducked out when they realized what was going on. I don't have the best opinion of the WTNV people since the podcast has stopped being funny and been more heavy-handed commentary on social issues, but my opinion has risen a bit based on this. Not only did they realize that they weren't going to get paid, most likely, they realized that if they did get any money at all it wouldn't have been ethically gotten, or could potentially be seized as part of an investigation into the fraud, if that's the way the defrauded parties choose to go.
But that's enough about the potential fraud/sketchy business practices. Let's get into the other sketchy things that went down at this con. For one, there was no security to speak of whatsoever, so anyone could wander into the con itself without paying for a ticket. There was a panel about BDSM, that was supposed to be restricted to adults only (18+). Reports are kind of all over the place about what actually happened, but it seems that they weren't very stringent with the age requirements, and minors went in and attended. That is a federal crime, and a very good way for the presenters to end up on the sex offender registry. Whether or not that's fair is a discussion for another day, but the fact remains that they really needed to be more careful about who gets into restricted panels.
And if that wasn't enough, now some people are complaining that the fact that the WTNV people bailed when they realized how sketchy this was are sexist because the convention organizers were “young women.” Never mind that at least one of those “naive young women” is approaching 40- technically old enough to be my mother. And serously? You're going to go the route of trying to paint scammers and fraudsters as naïve, poor, misunderstood young girls? HA. And Bernie Madoff is just a misunderstood old granddad.
I should end this by saying that I did not attend DashCon. But I can recognize a scam when I see one, and I have no sympathy. Well, that's not entirely true- I have sympathy for the attendees who got scammed out of their money. Given tumblr's demographics, it's very likely the majority of people who lost money actually were, in fact, naïve teen girls.
Here are some more links to the whole debacle. You know my position on it, you can form your own opinion if you'd like.
Oh No They Didn't! thread
Reddit thread from TumblrInAction
Another Reddit thread from TiA
Third Reddit thread
Tumblr detailing what you can buy with $17 grand
Tumblr user explains the basic problems with the con- somewhat outdated but useful
Tumblr user who attended but left before the money grab happened describes the con
Lots of links
Why a lawsuit could happen
A vendor who went to DashCon talks about what she saw