Fri. Jul 19th, 2024

A Willy Wonka-inspired experience ‘scam’ was so bad that people called the cops

By 37ci3 Feb28,2024


The event’s website featured interactive exhibits, and images shared on the site were not found elsewhere on the web through reverse image searches. Some bore recognizable signs of artificial intelligence, particularly strange and nonsensical letters.

Speaking to NBC News, two actors hired for the event said they were promised £500 to perform in themed costumes that weekend. Each of them said that the script they were given was created by artificial intelligence because of the word “stupid”. More alarm bells rang when he arrived for practice on Friday night.

Michael Archibald said he heard back the day he applied for an acting gig listed on job site Indeed. When he arrived for rehearsal the day before the event, the warehouse still looked bare beyond a few props, and he said the costumes weren’t delivered until after rehearsal.

When he arrived the next morning, he did not look well.

“I thought this is where ghosts go,” he said of his reaction when he entered the warehouse Saturday. “I already felt a sense of shame… I knew that the script was created by artificial intelligence. I would say that this is not a normal human writing.

According to UK government agency Companies House, the event was hosted by London-based event company House of Illuminati, which joined just three months ago. He as he describes himself “a realm where fantasy and reality merge to create uniquely immersive experiences.” The company did not respond to a request for comment Tuesday.

Hours after the event was abruptly canceled, the House of Illuminati posted a now-deleted statement on its Facebook page promising to refund attendees.

“Today has been a very stressful and frustrating day for many and we are very sorry for that. “Unfortunately, we were disappointed at the last minute in many areas of our event and we tried our best to continue and move forward, and we now realize that we should have canceled the first thing this morning instead,” he said. will be fully refunded to an individual.”

It’s not entirely clear whether the company uses AI to create promotional images and character scripts, and the company hasn’t addressed the issue.

Many vendors and services have sprung up since the ongoing explosion in generative AI technology has made it easier for internet users to instantly generate web copy and images from text prompts. uses artificial intelligence-generated content in its marketing. Deepfakes of celebrities and influencers Advertisements of some products have also been circulated in recent months, deceiving some potential buyers.

Paul Connell, another actor hired for the event, said some of the scenes in the script were “absolute nonsense” and could not be replicated without special effects. According to the actors, the event organizers soon told them to scrap the scripts and improvise as the characters they were supposed to play.

At one point, Connell said, the actors began to suspect that the event was fake and that they might not be getting paid for their work. But after discussing the situation among themselves, he said, they decided to stay and try to entertain the children as much as possible.

Paul Connell in Willy Wonka costume
Paul Connell in Willy Wonka costume.Paul Connell

“I thought of it as, ‘I just want the kids to have a good time.’ So I’m going to be silly and take pictures with them and play little games with them,” Connell said. “There was a little girl dressed as an Oompa Loompa who was very upset because she was waiting for Charlie and the Chocolate Factory and she had a dirty warehouse in Glasgow.”

Connell said that shortly after the incident began, the situation began to deteriorate. He said he took a lunch break because his “sanity was starting to slip” – and returned to see chaos unfolding.

“There was just a crowd outside and inside. It was a massacre,” Connell said. “When I walked in, I joked, ‘I’ve been at lunch for an hour, what happened? There were just people running everywhere, screaming, threatening the organizers.'”

At that time, the Police Service of Scotland was called to the scene. A spokeswoman said in an email that it was not a police matter, but officers offered counseling to frustrated attendees.

Lockens said he had received an email confirming the refund, but had not yet received the money in his account, which House of Illuminati said it could take 10 business days to receive.

The company’s director, Billy Coull, has deleted most of its online presence since reacting to the event. Coull did not respond to requests for comment via his Instagram page.

Disgruntled participants also created a Facebook group.Illuminati house of fraud” at Willy’s Chocolate Experience to share their experiences and organize efforts to secure returns.

Box Hub, which rents the event space to House of Illuminati, said in an email to NBC News that it has recently contacted several parents to offer the space for another event for concerned families. weekend.

“We would like to offer our venue completely free of charge as a gesture of apology on behalf of the House of Illuminati who are disrespectful or too embarrassed to comment on the families and young children they have disappointed,” wrote operations manager Matt Waterfield.

He reiterated that Box Hub had no involvement in the House of Illuminati event other than renting out the venue in Glasgow and that the company was shocked at how the event had been handled after being assured it would be a ‘fully immersive showcase’. ‘”

For Lokkens, buying five tickets for his family hurt his wallet significantly. But she said she thinks the experience will all be worth it for her children, who are fans of Willy Wonka. (The event’s website says it has no official affiliation with Warner Bros., which owns the rights to the Willy Wonka character.)

“It wasn’t what I expected at all and it certainly wasn’t worth £35 a ticket,” he said. “In the midst of the UK’s cost of living crisis, that’s money most families can’t spare for something so dire.”



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