- Beware: Fake 419 Conference Invites
(Note - I don't normally publish the exact same article to both Vital and SPG, but I thought this one might be important enough to warrant it).
Yesterday, I had an Email sitting in the mailbox that looked like this:
We are cordially inviting you to our Twin Combined Conference which will be
held. From the 21st - 23rd of March 2008 In Anaheim California and in Dakar
Senegal from the 27th -30th of March 2008.
If you are interested to participate and want to represent your country,
You may contact the secretariat of the organizing committee for details and
information. You should also inform them that you were invited to participate
by a friend (Miss Precious Wright ), Who is a member of the American Youths
for Peace and a staff of (WORLD YOUTH ORGANIZATION FOR HUMAN RIGHTS).
The benevolent donors of 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.You will only be responsible for your own hotel
booking in Dakar where the second phase of the conference will be held.
If you are a holder of an international passport that may require visa to
enter the United States you may inform the conference secretariat at the time
of Application , as the organizing committee is responsible for all visa
arrangements and travel assistances.
Email// firstname.lastname@example.org OR
By TEL: +1 (516) 303-0022 or By FAX +1 (718)-228-8213
my email: ( email@example.com )
.....uh, yeah, okay. Now, even before I start thinking about this I can see some serious problems here:
1) Random email. Important conferences randomly mail anyone they feel like to come along?
2) It takes place in California AND Senegal in the space of a few days? That's some pretty messed up, jetlagged people at the second event, right there.
3) Two oddly disjointed topics: Child abuse and racism? Uhh...okay...I guess? Seems more like they randomly picked two worthy topics than anything else.
3) Never heard of them and it looks like a 419 mail. Shall we take a look at their breathtakingly fake website?
....wow, 1995 has entered the building. Also: "Come and lets join hands and wage this global stigma against racism and chid abuse"?
Well, that's the first time I've been asked to "wage a global stigma" against something. Now let's all go save a "chid".
Sigh. Shall we look at some more? How about the "recent photographs" page? They have a whole bunch up:
Look at that - Jesse Jackson AND Fidel Castro have taken part in previous events held by this organisation!
I guess I'd be somewhat more impressed if the photograph in question hadn't just been lifted from a series of shots taken at the World Conference Against Racism, Durban South Africa 2001:
...and so it goes for the other images on the site - seemingly culled from other sources (how does GEORGE BUSH take part in one of these things without the whole world knowing who this organisation is?)
Check it out:
This is supposedly the Conference "Come join hands with us wage global war against racism" (which is simultaneously taking place in both 2007 and 2008...maybe it was a New Year's thing).
Sadly, this image has been lifted from this site:
...whoops. They're even willing to stoop to swiping pictures from the Eurovision Song Contest - compare and contrast:
The "Con-Vision" (appropriate!) Media Center is actually taken from here:
...the 2006 Eurovision Press Center.
From their "Staff Page":
Someone needs to report their "staff" for moonlighting, because this is actually the registration desk of the 2005 Environmental Monitoring, Evaluation and Protection Conference.
Why am I spending so much time on the images? Well, it's important to debunk this stuff as it's the images that ultimately go a long way to convincing people to fall for this kind of thing. The best example of this I can think of is one that even a newcomer to scams should be able to spot - the images from the speakers page. Bear in mind, they could have called their fake speakers anything at all - imagine the hilarity, then, of having to listen to...
....that well known expert on the causes of racism, Mr GEORGE WASHINGTON.
Incidentally, the below picture is supposed to be George Washington too:
....there are two problems with this. One, he doesn't appear to be bald and white anymore. Two, he's speaking at a presentation for the International Congress of Nanotechnology (check the banner below the podium).
I think we've covered the "this is completely fake" bases, so who are they and what are they after?
Well, as far as the "who" part goes, the Whois data is quite probably fake:
Created On:15-Nov-2007 09:56:38 UTC
Last Updated On:15-Jan-2008 03:48:47 UTC
Expiration Date:15-Nov-2008 09:56:38 UTC
Sponsoring Registrar:Wild West Domains, Inc. (R120-LROR)
Status:CLIENT DELETE PROHIBITED
Status:CLIENT RENEW PROHIBITED
Status:CLIENT TRANSFER PROHIBITED
Status:CLIENT UPDATE PROHIBITED
Registrant Name:Jesse Rocha
Registrant Organization:World Youths Organization
Registrant Street1:3710 airport blvd
Registrant Postal Code:78722
Apparently, the "World Youths Organisation" operates out of an address
associated with Tire and Car Brake repairs.
With regards what they're actually after, I fired them an Email to "confirm my interest in this wonderful event" and this is what I got back:
By recommendation, we accept you to participate in the forth-coming conferences,
which will now be held at the DISNEYLAND CONVENTION CENTER , ANAHEIM , C.A ,USA
and at OLYMPIC STADIUM HALL, DAKAR-SENEGAL, West - Africa.
The theme of the forth coming International Conferences is to equip participants
with the strategies and policies to wage a global war against Racism & Child
Abuse. The conference organizing committee in conjunction with the donor
sponsoring committee has mapped out some financial rewards to group
participants that distinguished themselves in their areas of discipline......
Panel of Judges has been appointed to oversee and to select participants of
(1) Group participant NO.1 Winner is entitled to the sum of $150,000.00 Dollars
( HUNDRED AND FIFTY THOUSAND DOLLARS)..
(2) Group participant NO .2 Winner is entitled to the sum of $100,000.00 (ONE
HUNDRED THOUSAND DOLLARS).
(3) Group participant NO..3 Winner is entitled to the sum of $75,000.00 (SEVENTY
FIVE THOUSAND DOLLARS)"
Wait....wouldn't it be more useful to, you know, give that money to all those starving people they're trying to help as opposed a bunch of well off conference flunkies? You'd be amazed how many people would see something like that and be packing their suitcase within minutes. They continue:
"REGISTRATION OF PARTICIPANTS: A minimum of five (5) or a maximum of ten (10)
people are expected to participate together as a group or organization to
represent their Country in the forth-coming events. None of them should be less
than eighteen years of age and must participate in both Conferences."
....HAHAHA. Okay, they now want you to round up five to ten more victims, presumably so you can take a thorough beating once they've all lost piles of money.
"They should be in possession of their international passports to enable them
participate in this conferences. For registration to participate in this event,
you may forward the names and passport numbers of your group members to us, as
soon as possible, as all participants visa assistance request will be forwarded
to the U.S Department of State for same day visa Authorization which shall be
sent by fax to the consular section of the U.S. Embassy, in your country of
Delegates will only be responsible for their own hotel booking in Dakar-Senegal
for the second pharce of the event due to the inability of our partner
organizations to mobilize enough funds to sponsor the number of expected
delegates to attend both conferences... All registered participants are
entitled to a round trip air tickets, meals and accommodation during their stay
in the U.S.
If you are interested to participate in the forth-coming International
Conferences, You must send to us the following information :
1) Names exactly as in passport.
2) Passport Numbers.
3) Date of Birth.
4) Place of Birth..
5) Country of Residence.
6) Tel/cell Number
To our registration desk by email: firstname.lastname@example.org
Fax: +1 (714) 276-0119
Mrs. Rose Dixion
...yes, send us your passport details, hurry! They didn't reply to my follow up about me not needing Visas due to UK Citizens being able to travel to the States on the Visa Waiver program, but if they did, I guarantee the subject of sending them money via Western Union to cover the cost of the Senegal hotel would have been raised.
If you go looking around for these fake conferences, there's a fair amount of them lurking - all using parts of the same information / names / photographs:
agecare-organization.tripod.com/index.html ("Age Care Organisation" presents "Child Trafficking and Sex Exploitation" - whaaa??)
Here's one that's been canceled due to violating ToS. In a nutshell, they move from domain to domain once the date for their supposedly current "conference" has passed - sort of like a plague of money making locusts. There's already a number of red flags for the main .org domain on various 419 scamfighter websites.
It seems sort of pointless to finish this off with a dire warning of Internet badness, but here we go - do NOT be suckered by these random "too good to be true" offers to fly to some fancy conference somewhere. It's highly likely to be fake, and could cost you a whole lot of money (and broken bones, after your friends have beaten you up). We're currently trying to have all related domains taken offline, and will post updates as / when they come in.