A speakers’ scam at Queen Mary’s

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Queen Mary, University of LondonQueen Mary’s by suburbanslice via Flickr

In the past few days, the China Speakers Bureau discovered that criminals were approaching some of our speakers for what proved to be a scam, involving names of faculty at Queen Mary, University of London. In an email message to those individual speakers – picked up from this website – they invite people over to London.
Fortunately, those speakers got our office involved and after some basic background checks, it proved to be a scam, trying to get deposits.
At Queen Mary’s event organizers are taking steps to prevent misuse of their name, but in some cases financial losses have occurred, as speakers not only lost deposits, but also booked flights. The scam is only a few weeks in place, and at least four gmail addresses have been used. Of course, the criminals might also use names of other universities and faculty, or other institutions.
We have of course warned our speakers in an email to watch out for this scam, but we feel that a public warning is also in place. If you are not working through a professional speakers’ agency, be advised that speakers never give deposits, its the event organizers who have to pay deposits, if money changes hands before the event itself. If you are approached, always get in touch with the event organizers, by phone or through their corporate email address.
If you need further information, do not hesitate to get in touch.

Update I: Both the websites at the William Harvey Research Institute and the Business School at Queen Mary’s are warning against the scam. The note on the site of the business school dates already from November 2009, so the problem might be a bit older than “a few weeks”, as they told us on the phone.
Update II: I’m not having a lot of time to investigate, but just walked into this similar scam, dating from last summer. Good to see Queen Mary’s is also organizing many legit conferences.

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