This is happening often enough that it warrants a thread.
Fancon’s utter failure (and likely scam nature) is even worse than the others considering that it specifically targeted the under-represented.
But even people who go to a lot of cons and “should know better” seem entirely willing to trust that an event will occur because it has a web page and a guest list. And the people who do “know better” and see it coming (e.g., event managers for established cons) are usually leery of broadcasting that in any formal channel to avoid getting entangled.
It’s easy to look at the grizzled PAX/MAGFest crowds to set expectations, but a huge percentage of people who attend cons - even these big ones - are first-timers who literally know nothing about them. They show up blind, often having never read a schedule or seen an announcement, with a very specific interest (e.g., seeing a particular celebrity or hosting a vending table) but having at no point done any research into the event itself.
There seems to be no real way to punish the people who orchestrate these scams.
I feel like this problem is going to get worse - a LOT worse - before it gets better. The blueprint is clear for all to see.
- Get minimal initial funding, make a web page, pander to a target demographic
- Seek volunteers who are heavily invested in the topic AND too inexperienced/naive to see the scam
- String them along and let them start planning writ large
- Kickstarter based on said planning
- Sell tickets, advertising, tables, etc…
- Put the minimum due diligence in, but load all of the responsibility on the volunteers
- When the event fails, blame incompetence and mistakes
- Keep the money
Should Kickstarter ban funding of events larger than a certain size (e,g, >500 people) without demonstrable corporate funding? Should people like me, when we see an obvious fail-con coming, dunk on it far in advance to a wide audience? Should the Internet just in general be hostile toward any new large con?