By Let’s Talk Hemp
As excitement builds around the 9th Annual NoCo Hemp Expo, to be held at The Broadmoor Resort from March 29-31, organizers are sounding the alarm about online “list scammers” and “hotel poachers” who have latched onto trade shows and conferences worldwide.
Shady online companies, mostly based overseas to skirt the U.S. legal system, offer to sell fake exhibitor or attendee lists. Other illicit companies claim that hotels for the event are full and offer to book alternate lodging. Participants duped by these scams may have their credit card charged for a fake hotel or arrive to find no reservation.
NoCo9 organizers emphasize that to reserve discounted room reservations, guests MUST register through the NoCo9 website while supplies last.
Organizer Morris Beegle cautioned attendees to look out for online fakers who “sell fake attendee lists and present themselves as event affiliates selling hotel rooms and other scams,” he said. “Every trade show, conference and industry list that shows up in people’s email is a scam. These people are relentless and they are frauds. Do not buy these lists.”
NoCo Hemp Expo isn’t the only event plagued by online scammers.
“We see dozens [of scammers] every week,” Jess Tyler, senior vice president of events for the Las Vegas-based MJBizCon, told Let’s Talk Hemp in 2021. “I’d love to say it’s just in the cannabis events, but unfortunately it’s not.”
Scammers are getting more sophisticated and, even if they’re exposed, they are able to return the next day under a new fake name, Tyler said.
“I compare it to whack-a-mole,” she said.
The expo scam industry has been preying on conference attendees for years.
A study from the Events Industry Council showed that online pirates and poachers used trademark infringement, impersonation and electronic fraud to obtain credit card numbers from convention participants across multiple industries.
“I think scammers are getting more sophisticated,” Mellissa Peterson, organizer for the Buffalo, N.Y.-based U.S. Hemp Expo, told Let’s Talk Hemp in 2021.
“They keep doing it because there’s a certain amount of success,” she said.
The U.S. Poultry and Egg Association took on internet imposters in court and sued a hotel-poaching nonaffiliated travel agency, winning a judgment in 2018.
But most organizers can’t devote the legal resources to chase down scammers.
So, if you’re attending NoCo9 or any other hemp expo or conference this year, don’t let your experience be poisoned by online predators seeking your credit card number, organizers said.
“I have had conversations with fellow event organizers who have the same issues and I think it is agreed we have to unite our voices and let as many people as possible know about these shady companies who prey on unknowing people within our industries,” Beegle said.
“I hope people share this article and I encourage other media outlets to cover this information and share it with their audience,” he added.
Sections of this article were originally written in 2021 by Evan Tompros, a former Compass Natural Marketing professional.