The real criminals, the ones who don't deserve mockery but genuine hatred, are still out there.
Take a good look at this asshole.
This is Mister Josh Hoopes. (Some of you already know where this is going.) Hoopes is an unrepentant con man and thief. His MO is like this -- he brokers comic companies. He will contact companies, saying he's a great artist (one time, he even told prospective employers he was Art Adams. Tokyopop fell for it and nearly had a deal in place before the truth came out), flash his portfolio of stolen art, and get a gig. Meanwhile, he finds artists down here in the trenches looking for work and offers them their Big Break, taking advantage of the fact that we will work cheap to try and build our brands. He gets a check from the studio and the scripts, and hands the scripts and a smidge of the money to the artists, then gives the completed art to the studios, claiming he drew it. This continues until Hoopes gets enough swag, then he vanishes. Oftentimes, the publishers and artists have no idea they've been scammed unless the artist confronts the publisher at a convention demanding payment for using their work (which has happened). Hoopes lays low for a while, then starts his scam up again.
There's an unofficial network of people keeping an eye out for him and, once sighting is confirmed, will spread the word like the Trump Of Doom. The central mailer is Rich Johnston at Bleeding Cool, who was exposing Hoopes and his fraud back when he was writing Lying In The Gutters (read it, and despair). He's got pictures. He's got audio of phone calls. Any information is passed on to authorities. And every time, everyone waits, because they know, like the axe murderer in a slasher film, he'll be back eventually....
Hoopes has broken surface again.
The following has been posted on Freelanced.com and ArtWanted.com:
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 firstname.lastname@example.org
Yeah, this looks really suspicious. But when you're dealing with people in the trenches, hope can blind you to a lot of potential problems.
A writer in Africa was contacted by Johnson, who claimed to be working in association with Marvel, DC, and Image, and told he was chosen from thousands of submissions. He would have to cough up $3,500 for a pro level artist, but since it was a creator owned comic, the revenue would make up for it. He PayPal'ed $1,700, and when the transaction record showed up, it showed the money went to one Josh Hoopes.
Hoopes' current email address for finding victims is email@example.com. The Paypal address he is using is firstname.lastname@example.org.
Spread the word.
We must watch out for each other.