So I saw this story posted today on the Facebook page of our friends at the Antietam Paranormal Society. I’m not sure how true this story is (it’s from the Examiner), but considering recent events in the paranormal community, as well as comments on this planner’s Facebook page, it’s hard to dismiss it. There seems to be an epidemic of paranormal scams lately, from people like Ghost Hunters alum Brian Harnois and Ryan Buell of Paranormal State, down to lesser-known folks who fancy themselves paranormal event planners.
Full disclosure here: I hate these paranormal “ghost hunting” conferences (or conventions or whatever you want to call them). At best, they seem like thinly-veiled excuses for people in the paranormal field to get together, drink heavily, sing karaoke, hock their t-shirts, and just hang out. And honestly, that’s fine. I just wish they wouldn’t sell it as a serious gathering. With conferences on cryptozoology and UFOs, there’s usually some semblance of scientific information sharing, lectures, presentations, etc. They get people in the field who, you know, aren’t there to shill for their TV show. But a conference that tries to draw people in by promising an appearance by “Zombie #37 from The Walking Dead” is not a place for a serious and scientific exchange of ideas. Call it a horror convention, and I’m fine with it.
The problem seems to be that a lot of these conferences are apparently set up by paranormal investigators with no business acumen whatsoever. Running a small paranormal event at the local haunted house is much different than running a paranormal convention that requires paid appearances, transportation, hotel rooms, and the like. And we just keep hearing stories of big conferences like this happening and people being scammed out of their money. And it’s not just the attendees. A large conference last year left a bunch of para-celebrities without their promised paychecks. But make of this what you will…
An event planner allegedly scammed people out of thousands of dollars at a historic old west town in Arizona on Saturday. The Virginia woman cancelled multiple events and tours that she scheduled last year that were supposed to take place late Thursday through early Sunday morning.
Carol Malone scheduled a two-day paranormal event in the town of Tombstone that was supposed to occur from May 1 through May 3. The event originally planned to feature various speakers, celebrities, and have haunted locations to tour and investigate. Only about a few hours of the event actually happened on Friday night.
“Our motto has been, since 1881, if you don’t pay, you can’t stay. She bought a total of twenty tickets. So basically we tried to accommodate those twenty people but we accommodated everybody,” a tour guide for the Birdcage Theatre said.
London Knight was the name that Malone gave to most of her guests and to business owners that she had venues with. She is being accused of ripping off her guests and not paying the business owners and the Tombstone locations are out of thousands of dollars owed by Malone for services, food and drinks, lodging, and tours that she promised to pay for. Malone allegedly scheduled multiple rooms at various motels and hotels for her guests to stay in this weekend, but when she arrived in town, she didn’t pay for them.
A majority of Malone’s guests and talent that showed up were expecting to be in a high-end hotel with their own room. They were told that they had to stay at a cheap motel and share rooms with other guests when they arrived. Folks paid for nice rooms but the rooms they ended up with were run-down.
“I had a lot of angry people come in here. They were expecting a room with two beds, they were expecting accommodations for three. They only got a key to a room that only had one bed. They wanted their money back and I can’t do that because you didn’t pay me,” a manager for the Budget Host Inn said.
“I opened it for free for everybody. The people that were here last night gave me some money to be here for a couple hours but I didn’t ask for anything, but they said we got to pay you,” the Haunted Hotel tour guide said.
Malone disappeared to her motel room at the Budget Host Inn after Examiner reporter John Albrecht confronted her at the Four Deuces Saloon in downtown Tombstone. Malone got word that Albrecht was in town to do a story on her so she never participated in the first few hours of the event and was found hiding out in the bar. She spent the entire night avoiding angry guests with the help of three bodyguards. Malone eventually left in tears after Albrecht questioned her. She never showed her face again on Allen Street and she eventually cancelled the event altogether the following afternoon.
Malone eventually got detained by one of the Tombstone Marshals and he cited her for “theft of services” for non-payment of several locations in town. Upon leaving the Tombstone Marshal’s office, she claimed she was going to walk to the Tucson airport because no one would give her a ride.
Darkside Entertainment, Malone’s paranormal event planning agency has multiple upcoming events scheduled for later this year. When paying for events, be sure to check the refund policy if any. PayPal has a new refund and return policy that was put in place in November to deter scams like this one. It seems that Malone followed in the footsteps of former Ryan Buell. She was a huge fan of the “Paranormal State” star. Buell was accused of a similar scam and some folks believe PayPal changed their policy due to what happened.
Victims are urged to contact authorities as soon as possible and make a police report with the Tombstone Marshal’s office. They can be reached at 520-457-2244 and are located at 315 East Fremont Street in Tombstone. See video for interviews with guests and business owners.
Moral of the story here: buyer beware. Don’t spend your hard-earned money going to these conferences to cach a glimpse of a para-celebrity who knows as much about ghost hunting as you do, and whose only advantage was being on TV. Find a local paranormal group who may be running a smaller event, instead of doinga ghost hunt with 75 other people (trust me, you will not hear or experience anything). If the guy running the event was the guy on TV who, week in and week out could not handle the most simple of tasks, do not give him your money.
Like anything, there are plenty of good, hard working people out there in the paranormal field. Unfortunately, lots of people like Carol Malone are out there too.