News & Stories
28 Apr 2016

Warning about Copycat Offenders Imitation Congress Websites

INTERPLAN AG, 28 April 2016. We are increasingly confronted with websites which relate to congresses but do not originate from the congress organiser or have not been commissioned from authorised web design agencies.

 

 

These imitation sites invite congress participants to supply their personal details and promise, in return, to provide offers for travel and accommodation. The URLs of these sites resemble those of the official congress website domains. For this reason, these pseudo sites often rank high in the search engine listings.

These websites are recognizable in particular through the following two features:

Firstly, the identity of the organiser or host is not clear. In some cases, the legal notice will actually state that the website in question is NOT the official congress website and that it does not have any official relationship with the congress in question. This is apparently a legal safeguard. We assume that the majority of participants do not study the legal notices on websites in detail.

Secondly, the fake sites usually do not offer the means for participants to book directly via the website. Instead, the participants are simply requested to provide their personal details in return for an offer for a hotel reservation or congress registration.

In other words, potential participants part with their personal details but have no guarantee that they will receive the services they have requested via this route.

In addition to the imitation websites, a further attempt to defraud is being increasingly observed:

Faculty members whose names appear in the programme published online are being contacted directly either by phone or email. The caller presents him/herself as an official member of the congress team or host organisation. Offers of hotel rooms are made, deposit and credit card details requested for accommodation blocks that have sometimes not even been secured. In the worst case, speakers arrive onsite to find neither a reservation has been made nor a hotel room has been booked for them and the advance payments cannot be refunded.

In particular, international congresses which publish their information in English appear to be currently the most affected by these copycats.

It is strongly recommended that organisers, participants, speakers and industry representatives be informed without fail! All communication channels such as websites, printed material, e-mailings etc.  should be activated and utilised to disseminate information regarding these scams. Informed and observant congress participants should then not fall prey to these copycats.

PCOs & official housing agents stand guarantor for quality

Are you planning to attend an international congress?

We strongly urge that you undertake all preparations for your participation e.g. registration, hotel and travel reservations etc. via the websites of the official congress organiser and/or the designated housing agents only!  Currently, various websites from unauthorised sources imitate congress websites and make offers for registration and hotel bookings.

The authorised housing agent negotiates special room rates for congress participants. The handling and payment for these housing allotments is therefore secure and guaranteed.

Very often, dumping offers made by unofficial housing agents cannot be put into effect.

Registration to the congress and associated courses and events can only be done through the authorised PCO. We do not consider any other provider to be reputable or reliable.

Authorised partners DO NOT place telephone calls or emails requesting the personal details or credit card information of participants! Please on no account supply your details over the telephone. Your PCO will always provide you with the official registration and booking forms, either in written format or online. Your personal data will be treated securely and the purchased and paid services are ensured.

We are advising our clients, all participants, speakers and industry partners of the current situation and drawing their attention to the risks involved.

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