Today we’re going to look at conference invitation fraud. This is not the most common fraud type but it still occurs often enough to deserve mention in our ongoing email fraud series.
Conference invitation fraud goes after your vanity and to a lesser extent your charitable impulses. To fall for this type of fraud you have to believe that your presence would be desired at an international conference on say, racism, or world hunger, or maybe condom use in Africa. Whatever the cause, you are invited to represent your nation or organization at the conference. All you need to do is follow up by contacting the representative listed in the email.
Subject: INTERNATIONAL CONFERENCE INVITATION (firstname.lastname@example.org) wants you to take a look at this link:
From: INTERNATIONAL CONFERENCE INVITATION <email@example.com>
To: [a long list of recipients]
This is the message:
My name is Mrs. Helen Enrique, female, working with Global Symposium of Peaceful Nations (GSPN). UNITED STATE WASHINGTON DC, We are organizing a global World Conference, Global Peace Index (GPI). Taking place from 8th to 12th March 2010 at Washington DC, In the United States and in Dakar Senegal from 15th to 19th March 2010, In our request to invite people from various countries around the world, I went in search of your e-mails on the web site as a means of contacting people and organizations As a result, I picked your email from an N.G.O`s website.
If you are interested to participate and want to represent your country or organization, you may contact the secretariat of the organizing committee for details and information’s. You should also inform them that you were invited to participate by friend of yours (Mrs. Helen Enrique) who is a member of the American Youths 4Peace and a staff of Global Symposium of Peaceful Nations.
I believe that we may have the opportunity to meet if you may be willing to participate in this event. The benevolent donors from across the global and the Organizing Committee will provide round Trip air tickets and accommodation for the period of participants, Stay in the U.S., to all registered participants. If you are a holder of passport that may require visa to enter the United States, you may inform the conference secretariat at the time of registration, as the Organizing committee is responsible for all visas arrangements and travel assistance.
You may get back to me with my email address below.
Mrs. Helen Enrique
Conference invitation fraud is subtle in that it rarely asks for sensitive personal information up front. The goal of these messages is to get your attention and start a conversation. Because of this they look fairly innocuous. Nevertheless this email exhibits some of the usual fraud clues:
- Subject in all caps (well, mostly anyway)
- Spelling and grammar errors
- Odd constructs such as “This is the message:” in the heading or “My name is Mrs. Helen Enrique, female”
On the other hand, some clues are notably missing:
- The recipient list was not hidden by Bcc
- There is no attempt to acquire any information
The lack of Bcc for the recipient list could indicate either brilliance or lack of skill on the part of the fraudster. Not using Bcc to hide the recipient list does allay suspicion somewhat or it could just be an oversight.
The second item, not attempting to acquire information, is common to this type of fraud. As we mentioned above, the goal of this message is to get you to reply. This is just the bait, the real scam doesn’t come until you bite.
Another trait that is frequently found in conference invitation fraud is the use of a real organization. In the example above there is a link to the website of The European Science Foundation (http://www.esf.org/) which appears to be a legitimate organization (although the connection to “a global World Conference, Global Peace Index (GPI)” is rather obscure). Also, as in other charity fraud, a real person may be used to lend credence to the con. In this case though, a search for Mrs. Helen Enrique turns up a lot of links to articles about conference invitation fraud. No surprise there.
At this point, it’s worth noting that searching the names of people and/or organizations found in suspected fraud email will often turn up proof in the form of someone (like us) who published the fraud online. Be careful with these searches though; fraud messages often link to sites containing viruses and other malware.
Here’s another example (this time we’ll leave spotting the clues as an exercise for the reader):
WARNING: the domain newyork.usa.com referenced in the message below contains active malware. DO NOT visit this domain unless you have good anti-virus software installed.
Subject: CONFERENCE INVITATION!!!
From: Hailey Patrick <firstname.lastname@example.org>
On behalf of One World Foundation, I Miss Hailey Patrick, a member and staff of the International committee of red cross, invite you to participate in the fourth Annual International Global combine Conference on Racism and%20Human Right, which the One World Foundation (OWF) is excited to be hosting in April 12th – 16th 2010 at Town Hall New York City (U.S.A), and from April 19th – 23rd 2010 at Dakar Central Hall yoff Dakar Senegal West Africa.
Conference attendees include; directors, doctors, professors, teachers, pastors and other professionals from various variety of department and staff, including students, managers and others against Racism and in support of Human Right. The conference will be addressed by prominent speakers of the humanitarian industry who will engage through their interactive session to bring forth relevant humanitarian issues.
In our quest to invite people from various countries around the world, we went in search of professionals and NGO members on the Google website as a means of contacting people and organizations. As a result, you where picked, so if you know you are interested to participate as an individual or would like to represent your country or organization, you may contact the conference secretary general for details and information’s regarding registration for the workshop.
After you have been fully registered for the conference, you will be provided with air round trip tickets, accommodation and visa processing for the period of stay in the United States. If you are a holder of passport that may require visa to enter into the U.S, you may inform the conference secretariat at the time of registration, as the organizing committee is responsible for all visa arrangements and travelling assistance.
I encourage you to share this invitation with anyone you believe would be interested in attending the conference. You can contact the conference secretariat; Mrs Marissa A. Dominic at email: email@example.com for additional information on registration.
See you in February!
Miss Hailey Patrick
Member of International committee of Red Cross
New York City (U.S.A)
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