Free Idea Fridays!

A Scam never looked so Brite
We hear too often about online scams, hotel poachers, email phishing and poor customer service.  I want to relay to you a recent incident.  I won’t give comment or express outrage.  However, I think it is important to share this, especially to encourage you to BEWARE. 
This is a true story and the order of events:
First thing the morning of November 3, 2017, we received a call from a delegate attending an up-coming conference.  Nothing too unusual, mainly asking some questions about their registration and wanting to switch a few things around.  After a series of questions, we realized there was no record of this delegate in our registration system and wanted to better understand what had happened.  We learned they had registered via Eventbrite and not our conference website.
We never list our registration on Eventbrite?? – something was wrong
On November 3, 11:55 AM., the delegate emailed us all the information they had received from Eventbrite:
  • A confirmation email including order details
  • Eventbrite’s logo
  • The name of the conference (minus any logos, artwork, details)
  • A PDF of a ticket complete with a barcode and a QR code
  • Terms and privacy links 
  • There was no website listed, but the conference’s twitter feed was linked
  • The registration fee was similar but not quite right, and showed no tax collection
  • It almost looked real - but it wasn’t
We called the delegate back to inform them that they had been a victim of fraud and that we would try to recover their $1,800 payment they had made on the bogus Eventbrite webpage. We immediately went into action, hoping no one else had been scammed and to get this fake registration site shut down.
  1. We contacted Eventbrite to have the event page shut down.  We were told they couldn’t do that and we had to deal with the event owner as identified on the event page.  Even though we provided proof we were in fact the actual event manager, we learned anyone can set up an event page without providing information to identify who they are, their involvement in the event nor any contact details.  No where on the event page is there any contact information only a link to contact the event owner. We took the following steps to ensure this:
  2. We notified our client and confirmed that no one internally had set up a mirror site – they confirmed it was unauthorized.
  3. We searched everywhere on the Eventbrite web page for customer service numbers or email to report the matter.
  • one number was out of service
  • all other numbers had automated systems and we left messages on all of them.
  • after nearly an hour of trying different numbers, and extensions I was finally able to talk live but only to someone in the Business Development department.
We asked a lot of questions to get answers for our client on how this could happen:
  • Why can’t we know who the owner is?  (To be able to prosecute)
  • What sort of venting does Eventbrite do? – do you ask for papers of incorporation, signing authority from a governing body? 
  • Are Eventbrite sites properly screened or is fraud easily achievable?
  • What does Eventbrite do to ensure the sites they are housing are not scamming others out of $1,800 a pop?
  • How do I get this site taken down so others are not defrauded?
  • I was told to refer to the Policy link (its several pages long) on their website and that the matter would need to be brought to the attention of the Trust and Safety department
In the early afternoon of November 3, we received an email from the individual in Business Development who we were able to connect with, informing us the matter had been escalated to Eventbrite’s Trust and Safety department. Shortly after receiving the email, we tried to go back to the fake Eventbrite site and discovered the look of the site and its contents had changed; everything was now in German.

A half hour later we emailed the delegate affected to explain what we had learned so far and we were continuing to pursue the matter with every intention to get their payment refunded by Eventbrite.  She had used Eventbrite for smaller events and thought it was safe.

Finally, November 3, 1:49 PM we received an email from Eventbrite informing us the site had been suspended.

The following Monday November 6, 5:15 PM, we received an email from confirming a refund had been initiated and the event page had been suspended.  It further explained any of the additional information we had requested in our initial conversations on November 3rd would not be provided if to protect the privacy rights of the owner and that such information would only be provided by way of a police/court originated subpoena.  The owner who had set up a fake site was entitled to more rights and protection than the person who was defrauded out of $1800 by a bogus event page on their website.

We immediately reported the incident to the Canadian Anti-Fraud Centre run by the RCMP (Royal Canadian Mounted Police)

What do you think?  You decide.

Have you or your organization been a victim of fraud – report it (no matter how small as it could lead to shutting down more and more criminals)
Hope my “Free Idea” makes your Friday!
at 12:55PM