Lessons to learn from guilty denial of fraud by Conlan Press – Part Two.

Continuing Part One about the mess Connor Cochran made by defrauding Peter Beagle fans.  So far, pressure forced him to make a public refund promise, and retract attacks he made against a bystander to distract attention. But he plays victim about the harm he did.  Here’s what you’re really hearing when you hear denial about it.

5) There’s copious corroboration about fraud – that’s how to catch Connor Cochran lying.

We’ve noticed another blogger who recently posted a long, long, LONG list of broken promises they experienced from Conlan Press.

Read it and wince.  It’s bad.  Check this quote from Connor Cochran in March 2008:

For the most up-to-date details, remember to check the new UPDATES page at Conlan Press. Actual release dates will be announced there first.

Repeated on July 18, 2011:

For updates on projects and products, always check the UPDATES (http://www.conlanpress.com/html/updates.html) page on the Conlan Press website first. That’s where to go to get the latest news.

But then excuses are contradicted.  Straight from Connor Cochran on the website:

The status of all delayed items has been regularly and accurately updated to customers through the company’s email newsletter.

How very slippery. Emails send cheated customers to the website (currently listing broken 2013 promises). The website sends them to emails. That’s the “runaround” reported by angry buyers – part of the Conlan Press attrition process we reported.

6) Fraud was done with classic con games and manipulation of victims.

Doing business involves keeping costs as low as possible.  Unfortunately, stealing is the cheapest way to get something.  It’s an inherent temptation for businessmen of weak conscience – as many cheated Conlan Press customers experienced

Connor Cochran may have started with intentions to fulfill promises.  But since 2004, he over-sold what he would really deliver.  Countless customers got nothing.  Maybe he thought new sales could help fulfill the backlog, so he made more promises.  Over-selling becomes a habit and a self-feeding cycle.  That’s how a publishing company became dishonestly run like a 10 year chain of Kickstarter campaigns gone bad.

It starts with white lies.  Soon, good intentions are forgotten.  New victims are deceived with confidence tricks to quell suspicion.  Excuses play on their sympathy and beg tolerance for bad business.  It becomes a dirty game of capitalizing on devotion.  Lovers of fairy tales are treated like easy targets for emotional ploys.

Love for Peter Beagle is the key. What fan can get angry at poor, wise old Peter? It’s how this went on for 10 years. Fans were strung along for much longer than they’d allow for any other business. But the company that uses Peter’s name isn’t owned by Peter. It all inflates value of Cochran’s properties.

“Connor Cochran is so nice!” – say people who trust him. Predators groom trusting believers. The success of con artists depends on charismatic lying. Consider the biggest fraudster ever, Bernie Madoff, who claims to be a victim even from jail:

“His voice is the most amazing, soothing voice,”… “You really feel like you’re talking to your uncle, your nice, rich uncle who’s a nice guy and, you know, you don’t feel like you’re talking to an arch-criminal.”

A cheated buyer’s opinion of Connor Cochran:

he may be very polite and nice to speak to but he is still a no good, rotten, dirty worm who steals from people none the less.

Confidence tricks play on natural human instincts: love, greed, want.  When Cochran offers something that sounds too good to be true – he entices people’s want for special things supposedly worth much more than they’re paying. They walk into the con.

His 2009 “Extra Deluxe” Last Unicorn sales (still not produced) heavily pushed this trick.  Cochran promised the $85 sales were valuable enough to sell elsewhere for $300.  That’s a con man working you until you want him to steal your money.

A reader commented about the list of “Extra Deluxe” Last Unicorn book buyers:

Screen Shot 2014-12-27 at 5.12.27 AM

Did separate lists manipulate people to think there were fewer buyers than there really were, so they believe they might not wait long? (5 years later, still waiting…) A red flag: no edition limit was mentioned. 79 sales are documented here, but at least 350 are reported.

If you have other lists, please send them to help other victims!

7) There was a history of poor integrity.

We previously asked: What made you go bad, Connor? Why did you stoop to this? 

What breeds a con man without a conscience?  As a little boy growing up in Kansas, maybe he was never taught not to lie and steal.  Or maybe his parents were too strict.  Take a guess from a story about ditching his family (on page 14, where he was named “Talky Li’l Blaggard.”)  But it doesn’t matter for cheated buyers – an adult can’t be excused what Cochran did.

There’s more clues in this commenter’s story.  A partnership that failed in 1984 was meant to pair Connor “Freff” Cochran with dependable creator Phil Foglio:

D’arc Tangent was a magazine-sized black and white comic with impeccable art and what seemed to be a really interesting storyline, published by “ffantasy ffactory,” a company that Foglio and Freff formed together to publish the thing. It was supposed to run 16 issues, but only 1 was published before the partnership dissolved amidst much finger-pointing. Foglio accused Freff of being incredibly late in producing his part of, well, everything, and I’m fairly sure I remember at the time that Foglio had other accusations about the way Freff conducted business in general, although I can’t find any documentation for that now…  Freff in turn accused Foglio of kind of half-assing, well, everything, and later claimed most of issue #1 was actually his work.

Both Freff and Foglio have claimed to hold rights to continue the story at various points, but neither one ever did. My (possibly not so) wild suspicion is that legally neither one could really move forward without the other’s permission, and neither one would cross the street to piss on the other one if he was on fire.

Who was at fault?  Take a guess by comparing Foglio’s successful history of delivering creative works, with the sad record of non-delivery by Connor Cochran.  We’re glad that Foglio left a bad partnership to produce with integrity on his own. Beware of giving trust to frustrated artists who can’t produce.

Here’s what a Beagle fan thinks about Cochran:

I’m so disappointed that Peter S. Beagle hasn’t left to find a publisher with actual integrity.

Watch for part 3 soon.