Scam conference invites: a tale of several cities

It’s not been a good week for spam, in my mailbox at any rate. Mostly, just half-hearted lottery scams like this:

Congratulations! Your Email was confirmed as winner of the 
Raffle draw Held in February, 2013 in Europe.
Send Name....
( )
Await response for claims.

Does anyone ever fall for scams this feeble? Well, just in case, I’ve warned all my email accounts that while I’m not an expert on legal matters, I’m pretty sure that email can’t win lotteries and they certainly shouldn’t be sending my money to pay registration fees, taxes, bribes, or whatever other excuse the scammer makes for taking money in advance. (It’s not called Advance Fee Fraud for nothing.)

I’m far more impressed by the little beauty below. Who wouldn’t be impressed by a conference that managed to get the famous Angelina Ballerina to organize it? Fortunately, Wikipedia told me that Angelina is a fictional dancing mouse, so I escaped being scammed by a whisker. But I avoided making a faux pas in the pas seul, so to squeak. Okay, I’ll stop now and let you read this gem:

Dear Sir/Madam,
It is a great privilege for us to invite you for the upcoming 
International combined conference meeting on Human Right and 
Global Financial Crisis, taking place from May 6th to 
10th May 2013, here in United States of America, California.
The aims of the conference is to bring together researchers and
practitioners in an effort to lay a ground work for future 
collaborative research, advocacy, and program development as well 
as to educate social service, health care and global financial sectors.
An expert faculty of speaker from Australia, Europe, Asia, Africa
and USA will present a comprehensive review of leaders to discuss 
relevant, timely topics related to Global Financial Crisis with 
dynamic educational sessions, invaluable networking functions, 
career advancement opportunities and cutting-edge resources. 
The 3rd Annual ECD Conference & Exhibition offers the most 
comprehensive learning experience in the field.
Registration is freely open to all interested participants; 
interested participants should contact the conference s
ecretariat via Email below for more information for 
registration and accommodation.
Secretariat Email:
If you are a holder of passport that may require visa to enter 
the United States, you are to inform the conference secretariat 
at the time of sending your detail for registration, as the organizers
of the event is responsible for all visa arrangements 
and travel assistance.
Once again we thank you for taking out your time in your busy 
scheduled to attend this conference meeting and we hope 
to see you at the event venue.
Yours Sincerely,
Ms. Angelina Ballerina
Program Coordinator

There were one or two other scam indicators of course:

  • The fact that a little googling found a very similar spam claiming that the very same conference was taking place in New York in March. (Don’t be too upset if it turns out that you live in one of the few American cities where it isn’t taking place. Though in this instance, it appears they forgot to mention which city in California was the chosen site.)
  • Then there’s the fact that Angelina also goes by the name Osmar Buzinhani, the proud (apparent) possessor of a email address. Is there no end to this mouse’s versatility?
  • No web site, no contact details apart from a free AIM address.
  • And the suggestion that the conference is responsible for organizing visa and travel assistance: this is a standard ploy for fake conferences, as a precursor to demands for an application processing fee (or something similar)

If you get something like this, don’t let your natural concerns over human rights issues and the fragile economy cloud your judgment. Not that these are the only topics used as a hook to draw you into the scam: variations on the conference theme include human trafficking, child abuse, racism, war-affected children and so on. They also misuse the names of entirely legitimate organizations such as the International Economic Development Council, UNESCO, and the UN, in order to target other NGOs and ‘people of conscience’.

Still, I must admit, Ms Ballerina’s English isn’t bad at all, for a Brazilian mouse.  I bet she leads the authorities a merry dance. (Sorry, couldn’t resist.)

ESET Senior Research Fellow

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