Fighting the fraudsters

Glass Times editor Nathan Bushell responds to a scammer.

As the dust settles on what has turned out to be a successful FIT Show 2019, the organisers have an unwelcome battle on their hands: fraudulent attempts to sell visitor data.

FIT Show exhibitors have been receiving messages from someone purporting to be an ‘event specialist’ from the FIT Show offering an “updated attendees List [sic]” that “enables you to showcase your company’s post-show marketing efforts with unlimited usage on the contact list (No restriction on usage)”.

Since Glass Times exhibited at the show, I received one such message from Kristen Paladiino, who later followed up the email with: “I was wondering if you had a chance to review my previous email that I sent to you. Kindly let me know your interest so that I can get back to you with counts and pricing available.”

In a bid to learn more, I wrote back, asking: “Was this visitors’ list procured from the FIT Show organisers, and does it contain all the visitors to the show over the three days?”
Kristen’s response was: “We work with many event organizers as an extended marketing team to support all the exhibitors and participants. We have gathered our data according to the strictest guidelines to begin with. We don’t use cookies or anything like that.

“All the records are 100% verified by email and phone. We give a commitment of more than 90% accuracy.

“shall i go ahead and get back with break down audience counts, pricing details and more details for your consideration.”

Since I was reasonably confident that this was not a legitimate offer, I contacted the FIT Show organisers to find out how deep the problem ran.

“Our data is not for sale, to anyone at any price,” event director Nickie West told me. “It is a huge asset for an exhibition, just as it is for a publisher. Exhibitors are only entitled to use the visitor data that they have collected on their stands, that visitors have effectively or actually given their permission to use. ‘Kristen’ or her cronies, may have ’scraped’ the information but just as likely is that they are not selling anything at all worthwhile and that it is a scam.”

Data scraping, also known as web scraping, is the process of importing information from a website into a spreadsheet or local file saved on your computer. It’s one of the most efficient ways to get data from the web, according to digital marketing specialists.

“I have done several emails to exhibitors – included warnings in the newsletters and added alerts to the exhibitor hub and website,” Nickie said. “I also write to every single one I’m made aware of asking them to desist from their fraudulent offers to our exhibitors. I really don’t feel we can do anymore. It’s so difficult – I get about three a week to info@fitshow.”
I showed Nickie my recent conversation with Kristen, and she replied to her directly: “As you are of course aware you do NOT have access to the attendee list to our exhibition therefore you are attempting to defraud our customers.

“We do NOT work with your organisation in any capacity and again your claims that you are part of any extended marketing team is fraudulent.

“I plan to make our lawyers, the ICO, AEO and all our exhibitors aware of your business practices.

“For the avoidance of any doubt please immediately desist from making fraudulent claims where they link your business/mailing lists to FIT Show 2019 or FIT Events in any way.”

Move to junk, would be my advice.