When Conferences Lie

October 9, 2019

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Be a speaker. Serve on the organizing committee. Present your abstract. Sounds like traditional association conferences’ calls for subject matter experts. But it’s also how fake and predatory events reach out to students, academics, and professionals across a swath of industries. Providing little or no substance, these events — if they even take place at all — not only create confusion in the market, they siphon off the very same audiences legitimate events work so hard to attract and educate. What can be done?

If you trust the internet, you might expect to have a hard time finding a hotel room in Manchester this coming May. The city appears to be very busy that month in 2020, welcoming attendees for a range of conferences — the 3rd International Conference on Nuclear and High Energy Physics, the 2nd Global Congress & Expo on Biomaterials, the 4th International Conference on Women’s Health and Breast Cancer, and three more global gatherings. And if you were Anthony Cassidy, senior sales manager at the Manchester Convention Bureau, you would be giving yourself a high-five for winning such an impressive number of bids. There’s just one problem: Cassidy says those events are fictional.

“The website’s design is inconsistent and contains numerous broken links,” Cassidy wrote in a blog post on the convention bureau’s website, “9 Tips for Spotting Fake and Predatory Conferences,” after reviewing the URL for the 3rd International Conference on Nuclear and High Energy Physics. “In almost comical fashion, the website’s homepage proudly displays an image of Paris’ Louvre Museum as an attraction of Manchester — an obvious sign that all is not as it should be.”

As Cassidy points out in his post, these are not isolated examples of random scammers. “Fake meetings are not fake news,” he writes. “That is to say, fraudulent conferences exist, and they are becoming a real problem for the meetings industry.”

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