by Karen Frazier, Managing Editor
Paranormal Underground e-Magazine
I received the following email from Dawn Sparks, who paid just about $750 to go to TAPSCon and has yet to receive her money back:
My name is Dawn Sparks and I was given a link to the forum concerning the scams of Brent Fair and crew. I am a victim of the TAPScon 2009 event. I paid $731.10 through paypal on 7/23/08 for the Belleview convention on 5/15 – 5/17/09, to TFTC (seller); which you know has been “rescheduled”. I was one of the people that Lisa Abney interviewed on video at scifake. She & Ron have been extremely helpful. I have yet to receive a refund from Brent. I have sent him numerous emails, letters, phone calls and I not once have had a response from him. I began disputing the charges with my credit card sometime in March and received an email from Paypal the other day regarding the dispute. However, I just learned from another victim at scifake (Darlene) the other lady interviewed, that some time in December 2008, Brent’s treasurer Robert Jennings (Odyssey Star Productions) had another account opened for the proceeds to the 2009 event went to(*********@haunted****t.com). Pretty interesting; it seems they knew the event was cancelled and created another account. I have notified so many agencies here in Florida that I could think of, and no one as of yet has done anything about this situation. I think several of us contacted the Pinellas Cty Sheriffs, but the detective Selena says it was low priority and that there was not much they could do. So I’m not sure what to do at this point. I have even contacted Jason Hawes via email and of course have not had a response either. There was mention of the FBI which seems to be the next step, because the agencies here in Florida have done nothing, and this guy just keeps selling tickets to the “new event” which the Clewiston Inn says nothing is set yet. This seems to be a pattern with Brent and his cronies and would like to help put a stop to his debauchery and scams. Not only has he ripped people off, but he is giving the TAPS guys a bad name, and they are loosing a lot of fans because of this situation. Please feel free to contact me if you wish, I would be more than happy to help in anyway. Thank you for your time.
Dawn Sparks – Tampa, FL
Of interest in Dawn’s email is the separate PayPal account. Apparently, Mr. Fair originally took PayPal payments through an email that was a TAPS Family email, and later took them through the second email account. We know that Mr. Fair is a former TAPS Family manager, and at some point no longer was – so this could simply be that. I have emailed Jason Hawes asking about the distinction between TAPS Family and TAPS, so I hope that we will have a reply to that soon.
There are hundreds more just like Dawn out there who have asked for their money back and not received it. Dawn says that she didn’t pay to go to the Clewiston Inn and see someone else – she paid to go to the Belleview Biltmore and see Jason Hawes and Grant Wilson. I understand. She should get what she paid for, or get her money back. If I go to the store and buy a food processor only to get it home, open the box and find that it contains a blender, should I just decide that a blender is “sort of” a food processor – so it is almost what I paid for? Should I accept that as “good enough?” Whether I should or shouldn’t – I wouldn’t. And if the store told me that if I asked for my money back, I would be banned from shopping at that store forever, well – I’m guessing I’d ask anyway and find another place to shop.
One thing is for certain. There are no winners in this situation. At one point, Brent Fair was a trusted part of the TAPS Family – we know this to be true. But I have to ask – how many of us have trusted someone only to discover later that they aren’t who they said they were? Three husbands later, I am aware that this can happen. I’m a slow learner that way.
The victims are out money and out time. They feel duped. They are chasing down what they have every right to ask for – either give them what they paid for, or give them their money back. Without threats of excommunication. They want what they spent their hard-earned money to receive.
TAPS is suffering harm to their reputation, because their name is tied up with TAPS Con and the TAPS Family. Many feel that the distinction between TAPS and the TAPS Family is a picayune one. I don’t know whether it is or not. Logic tells me that TAPS has nothing to gain by being an active participant in Mr. Fair’s scheme. In fact, they have everything to lose by it. I think (and this is just my opinion) that they had a good time at TAPS Con 1, and they agreed to do it again, unaware that there was a storm a’ brewin’.
Out of everyone, Brent Fair has the most to lose. Even if this all started out innocently with good intentions of delivering TAPSCon, somewhere along the way Mr. Fair had a choice. He could either admit that there was an issue and do what he could to own up to it and make restitution, or he could duck and cover. I think his choice was obvious. Unfortunately, that choice will very likely lead to his ultimate prosecution. I know many are actively seeking that solution.
No – there are no winners here. The victims, TAPS, Brent Fair – everyone loses. It’s a sad and frustrating situation with no resolution in sight.
After some research and conversation with Dawn, I think that perhaps the best bet for reporting this would be the Internet Crime Complaint Center. I know Dawn has been in contact with them and has filed a complaint. Perhaps if the volume of complaints rises, resolution will come more quickly. I’ll contact them later and let you know what I find out as to time-lines, etc, for processing such a claim.