Take Action: Impersonation Scams Impacting Associations

Posted By: Donna Oser, CAE Blog, Industry,

Imagine it's set up day for your association's exhibit show, and dozens of companies show up that aren't on your registration list. After lengthy conversations to sort out the confusion, it becomes evident the would-be exhibitors registered with and paid a third-party entity claiming to be your association. Unfortunately, the third party and the money it collected are in the wind. This scenario exemplifies impersonation fraud, a widespread and growing danger impacting associations, industries, trade shows, and events. Fraud victims often suffer significant and unrecoverable financial losses. 

A Real Life Example

The Consumer Technology Association recently fell victim to just such a scam. CTA President and CEO Gary Shapiro told Trade Show Executive that a prospective exhibitor for CES 2022, a massive trade show that took place in Las Vegas, fell victim to a scam operator that was using CTA's name to bilk companies out of thousands of dollars.

The Growing Threat

Impersonation fraud, which often includes unsanctioned email solicitations using company names and logos, attracted the Federal Trade Commission's (FTC) attention. As a result, the Commission compiled extensive data, revealing that impersonation scams are a growing problem, increasing in frequency and sophistication. COVID-specific reports included nearly 9,000 complaints of business impersonation and more than 12,000 complaints of government impersonation. The FTC is now seeking comment from the public before finalizing rulemaking on this pressing issue. Associations are encouraged to take action against this growing threat by December 16. 

Shapiro drives home the imperative for associations to get involved:

"This is a broad-scale effort to fight the malicious actors who hurt our events by using our event names or implying they are the event organizer and selling fake services or lists and defrauding our unwitting customers." 

Take Action Now

MSAE, in alliance with ASAE, is raising awareness and encouraging widespread participation by filing comments with the FTC by December 16:

MSAE appreciates Associations North and ASAE for their assistance with this effort.