Jewellery show scammers are back in force as the world ‘reopens’ after the global pandemic.
The scams – which were increasingly prevalent before COVID forced the closure of most international trade shows all around the world – are very simple.
These scams tends to target three things: attendee lists, fair directories and hotel reservations.
This is the most common scam and involves exhibitors being contacted by people who claim to have an upcoming show’s attendee list. For a price, you buy complete contact details of every visitor – before they even attend the event!
The scammers will often use the show name, logo and/or show organiser’s name in the email signature.
Jeweller is aware of a number of emails currently circulating stating, “We are offering you the attendees contacts list of IJF International Jewellery Fair 2022: Are you interested to purchase?”
The email goes on to list attendee categories including jewellery retailer, department store buyer, watch or clock retailer, duty free retailer, jewellery manufacturer and so on.
This scam entails exhibitors receiving an email to update their company information in the ‘International Fairs Directory’, or another name similar to the name of the exhibition they are scheduled to attend.
These emails appear at a time when suppliers are focusing on the trade show’s planning.
A few years ago, a number of Australian jewellery suppliers got caught by this scam when they found themselves agreeing to pay €1,212 ($AU1,796) to a company each year for three years for the ‘privilege’ of advertising in a directory, which had no connection to any trade show.
This scam has not been as prominent in the Australian jewellery industry; however, again it’s very simple: exhibitors are offered ‘too good to refuse’ hotel deals only to discover they booked rooms through a third-party room broker.
People arrive at a hotel only to find that no booking exists and there is no recourse for the payment of rooms. These ‘brokers’ falsely imply they are affiliated with show management and secure deposits and/or full prepayment fraudulently.
Gary Fitz-Roy, managing director Expertise Events said that not only does he get calls every year from jewellery exhibitors about the attendee list being sold, he said his own business gets offers to buy the attendee list of his own show!
“It’s an old scam and no one running it is very sophisticated. The scammers copy the exhibitors list contact details from our website, as well as our details as the fair organiser, and then try to sell us an attendee list that they don’t have.
“In fact, some years ago, when we launched a new exhibition in another industry, the scammers were trying to sell the attendee list of a show that had never taken place. It was the first event,” Fitz-Roy said.
He advises exhibitors to ignore these emails: “Suppliers and exhibitors and, more importantly, visitors [retail buyers] need to be assured that Expertise Events does not sell our database, the scammers have no access to it.
“It’s simply a fraud, just another internet scam.”
This publication receives many emails attempting the attendee list scam, and a quick search of the email address and/or adding the URL address of the, so called, list broker will quickly expose the scam. That is, while the email address can be, say, firstname.lastname@example.org, there will be no website for the business Exhibitorlists.
Jeweller decided to engage with one of the scammers offering the attendee list for the International Jewellery Fair. We asked for the details of this list and the cost.
We were supposedly communicating with Henry Johnston, a database and list expert from an international research company based in Pennsylvania, USA. Even though our email replies were being sent during Australian business hours, they were being quickly answered although it was meant to be 3am in the US.
We asked Johnston to call our office to discuss the details. We were told the attendee list for a show that had not taken place included the names, addresses, phone numbers and email addresses of 15,237 jewellery buyers scheduled to attend the Sydney trade fair.
When the number of buyers was queried, the man – who revealed he was an Indian national – confirmed that the figure was correct. He also confirmed he was located in Pennsylvania, the address on the company’s website, and explained that “he is on call to answer questions, even at 3am in the morning!”
At this point, we asked if he could tell us how many jewellery stores there are in Australia according to his “extensive database of jewellery buyers”.
He said he could provide that figure but first, he had to “interrogate the database” at which point there was fast and seemingly loudly exaggerated typing (banging) on a keyboard to signify search queries.
The answer came back “more than 40,000”.
Jeweller confirmed the question to Johnston and he replied, “Yes, that’s correct, there are more than 40,000 independent jewellery stores in Australia. And we have all their contact details.”
For the record, the total number of jewellery stores in Australia, including chain stores such as Michael Hill, Prouds, and so on, is fewer than 3,000!
Following further discussion – including a great many more outrageous claims – we agreed to buy the list.
We were presented with an invoice for $US500 listing the payment details for a National Australia Bank account; however; the payment had to be made via a specific Western Union office in Sunshine, a western suburb of Melbourne.
Needless to say, the payment was never made, even though we assured Mr Johnston that it had.
Fitz-Roy said the only way to deal with scammers is not to reply. “It happens on all of our shows and happens to other event organisers all around the world.
“Expertise Events has the largest database of jewellery retailers and buyers by far. We would never sell, rent, or give away our lists.”
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