Fraud Alert!

This is bizarre.

Our University is hosting Westcast, a teacher education conference, this year.

However, someone has setup a fraudulent website titled “Westcast University” with direct pieces from our conference website and our University website. This looks like an academic-based 419 scheme.

Conference Fraud

After a few emails to the company hosting the site, it was taken down. I have sitesucked the entire site to use in future presentations. If you would like a copy, let me know.

Here are a few quotes from the fraudulent site. Remember, the real Westcast conference is a Canadian conference focused on Teacher Education.

Regina University is a registered charity whose aims & objectives are to empower individuals world-wide through offering grants for education, economic, business, development, and environmental conservation; to support groups addressing social, economic, tourism and environmental issues and a variety of philanthropic projects through grants to non-profit organizations, to promote the well-being of mankind by strengthening the capacity of charitable organizations to provide effective programs of quality. Regina University is pleased to announce the International Conference on Human and Community Development Summit: – Transforming civil society” that will bring together 314 representatives of NGO/CBO from all over the world is scheduled from 13th to 16th February 2008 in Regina Canada.

Wow, sounds like a great international conference. But, this is not our conference. And we are not “Regina University”, rather, the University of Regina.

Here is what “Regina University” offers:

FINANCIAL SUPPORT:

Apart from the financing of the 8 richest countries of the world (G8), the summit receives financial support from the Mitsubishi Bank of Japan and the Every Johnson Foundation for the participation of civil society members. As a result, Regina University will provide sponsorship for up to (03 – 05) international delegates from selected organization School and Association.

The Regina University sponsoring covers the following charges:

– The means of travel for selected delegates from home country to Regina (Canada), and from Canada to home country

– The accommodation for selected delegates,

– The per diem for selected delegates

– The medical insurance for the entire summit duration

– The displacement of delegated on the spot of conference (by bus)

Wow … what a deal! How generous! So, what do I need to do to sign up? Oh, looks like there is a registration process. It looks pretty simple, but don’t forget, there is just a small registration fee.

Payment Slip of the Registration Fee: The required registration fee of USD 210 $ per selected applicant should be paid through our nearest Legal Representation in your continent through Western Union Money Transfer.

And just to make things really easy, “Regina University” lists a representative in many geographic regions including Asia, Europe, Africa and Australia.

As mentioned before, this could be considered an example of a “419 scheme“, also known as “advance fee fraud“. These schemes typically aim to persuade people to “advance relatively small sums of money in the hope of realizing a much larger gain.” I know that usually 419 schemes promise much more than simple conference travel and accommodation (usually millions of dollars), but I am not sure how else to categorize this other than simple fraud.

Thoughts or comments on this issue? Has anyone else heard of an example like this?