Recently, an email was circulated to many NGOs in Africa by someone claiming to be “Bridge Medical Research Foundation” inviting them to attend “the 4th International Workshop for Development and Finance” “scheduled from 14th to 19th February 2011 in Georgia-Atlanta, United States of America, (U.S.A).” The invitation attached to the email claimed to provide full sponsorship covering air travel and meals to at least 4 participants from each organization. But each participant had to pay US $285 as registration fee!
Some of the NGOs receiving this email cheered at the idea of receiving the sponsorship letter and were willing to pay the above sum immediately to participate in the workshop because they were getting an opportunity to visit the US of A. But one of our valued subscribers, Blair Henry from Botswana pointed out that there was something suspicious in this and alerted us to inform you all that this is nothing but a scam to cheat you! As soon as you transfer the registration fee (hard earned money of yours), the workshop organizers will disappear or may start demanding more money from you. So beware of such email scams.
But what makes one think that this is a scam? See the email below:
The name of the organization is not familiar, at least not in the development sector. So it is something that we need to investigate. On visiting its website, we find lot of information about the organization, but nothing about this so-called “International Workshop for Development and Finance.” This raises our suspicion.
Now we take a look at the invitation attached to the email:
The invitation says “your organization has been selected for sponsorship to the summit.” How come? When you have not sent any application or a request, how can your organization get selected for the sponsorship? Secondly, it is asking for a high registration fee of US $285 but it is offering to cover air travel and meals (not many reputable workshops and conferences do that). Thirdly, it is expecting participants to transfer this fee via Western Union to another country and not to the place where the event has to take place.
It is certain that this is nothing but a scam targeting NGOs to deceive them and take their money away. NGOs receiving such an email should best ignore it and inform other colleagues to not to fall for it.
But this may not be the last email scam. There will be many more coming in using new techniques to deceive you. So how does one protect oneself from it? Here is a guide on how to be alert and avoid falling for them. Click NEXT to read it.
Thanks to Blair for raising this issue.