Saturday, 17 August 2013

New Scam - Beware of university staff inviting you to international conferences

I get a lot of scam emails, mostly from people in developing countries claiming a wealthy relative has just died leaving a huge legacy and promising me a cut if only I will provide my bank details. I don’t reply.

But this week I’ve had two scam emails of a different kind, both from African university addresses, which initially (well for a moment) had me wondering.

The first was an invitation from the California Human Right Foundation (the missing ‘s’ on ‘right’ was an initial clue) to attend a ‘global Congress meeting against Economic Crisis, Child Protection & HIV/AIDS Treatment, Prostitution, Sex Work and forced Labor’.

It claimed to be hosted by the ‘the Campaign against Child Labor Coalition’ and sponsored by the ‘The Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation’.

It was also offering ‘free air round trip tickets’ to all participants to attend the conference but was sent from an email address at the University of Benin in Benin City, Nigeria (another clue).

Well I guess paid return air travel might be possible if Bill and Melinda Gates are providing funding but in fact the ‘California Human Right Foundation’ and ‘the Campaign against Child Labor Coalition’ do not actually exist.

The letter was part of a scam aimed at luring people into making payments for hotel accommodation which would never be refunded.

I have pasted the full letter below. It was not difficult to find out more about the scam on google by entering the names of the key organisations.

This brought up a version of the same letter sent in October 2012 and four further versions sent under different names between February and August 2013.

This poor fellow lost $876.55 booking accommodation in Senegal for a similar conference.

Another report gave more information about the scam and gave a list of helpful pointers to identifying scam letters generally. Specifically:

1. The Lycos email address.
2. The logic of the invite does not make sense,  it is to be in California and then immediately afterwards in Senegal.
3. Suspect reply address  …
4. No Logo
5. Person who signs the email does not say from what organisation they are from.
6. Dropping of big names
7. Email is not personally addressed, does not say who they are inviting or why they are invited.

I would add to this list two more points:

8. The suspect grammar and spelling
9. The fact that several of the listed organisations did not exist!

The second letter was slightly more convincing.

It came from William Ellis, a lecturer at the University of the Western Cape in South Africa. This person does apparently exist (at least he has a web page) and seemingly may have forwarded the letter inadvertently (although he has not replied to my emails alerting him to the scam and how did he get my address?).

The grammar and spelling in this second letter were much better but again it failed on almost all of the above criteria.

A google search did not bring up any information about the conference (apart from showing its theme had been taken from the title of a book) but it did bring up a report from Scamwarners showing an identical letter sent in another name (See also here, here  and here).

I have also pasted it below.

No doubt these scams will continue but we can expect them to get more sophisticated and more difficult to detect. You have been warned!

In the meantime I have written to both the University of Benin and the University of the Western Cape to inform them that members of their staff are sending out scam emails. I’ll let you know if I get any replies.

First scam letter

From: [] on behalf of Mrs Jennell Bailey []
Sent: 16 August 2013 08:24

Dear Colleagues,

On behalf of California Human Right Foundation CHRF USA, It is a great privilege for us to invite you to global Congress meeting against Economic Crisis, Child Protection & HIV/AIDS Treatment, Prostitution, Sex Work and forced Labor. The aims of the conference are to bring together researchers and practitioners in an effort to lay the ground work for future collaborative research, advocacy, and program development as well as to educate social service, health care, and criminal justice professionals on human trafficking and the needs and risks of those victimized by the commercial sex industry.

The global Congress meeting against Economic Crisis, Child Protection & HIV/AIDS Treatment, Prostitution, Sex Work and forced Labor is scheduled to take place from October 20th – 24th 203, in California the United States and in Dakar-Senegal, from October 26th – 30th 2013. The global congress is hosted by the Campaign against Child Labor Coalition and sponsored by (The Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, The William J. Clinton Foundation and other benevolent donors worldwide.

Note that all interested delegates that requires entry visa to enter the United States to attend this meeting will be assisted by the organization, in obtaining the visa in their passport. Free air round trip tickets to attend this meeting will be provided to all participants. The Workshop welcomes paper presentation from any interested participants willing to present papers during the meeting.

For registration information you are to contact the conference secretariat via OR

Please share the information with your colleagues.

Mrs Jennell Bailey
(M.D) Activities Coordinator

Second scam letter

From: William Ellis []
Sent: 16 August 2013 05:08
To: Undisclosed recipients:

please contact sylvester violet via Email: OR the conference secretariat via  directly for more information.

Dear Madam/Sir,

I am pleased to invite you to participate in the International conference on Human Trafficking for Labour Exploitation/Forced and Bonded Labour to be held on September 25th to 28th at Walter E. Convention Center in Washington United States and 1st to 5th October at Gaston Berger University conference hall in Saint-Louis Senegal.

The purpose of this conference is to focuses on the specifics of labour exploitation, particularly the identification, prevention and prosecution of offenders with the final goal of preventing trafficking and bringing justice for victims. The conference will operate primarily in an interactive mode.

During  the conference key  issues  relating  to Human Trafficking for Labour will  be presented by local  and foreign  speakers  in  the  form  of  interactive  lectures, case  studies,  video  documentaries,  skills sharing  workshops,  utilizing multi-media  and  informal  discussions through  active  participation among participants.  On  the  last  day  of  the  conference participants  will formulate  a Youth  Action Plan that will be presented to UN bodies and related stakeholders.

Interested delegate should contact the Conference Secretary for more information:, You can also contact me via my

We look forward to welcoming you all to (HTLEFBL) 2013

With best regard,

sylvester violet,

William Ellis
Dept. of Anthropology and Sociology
University of the Western Cape
Private Bag X17
021959 2336
021959 3347


  1. Sounds like a perfect description of religion (especially those that require tithing).

    1. I do hate knee-jerks anti-religious types.

  2. Be careful with the international conferences organized by science plus. They organize conferences until the end of 2014 There are a fake conference or a scam. I call the hotel are included for the conference but they (the hotel) says there is no conference for. I contacted the advisory board, everything is fictional. So please do not be influenced to join all programs organized by science plus. Especially for paying the fee registration for the conference. It's true a fake conference and a scam from science plus (organizer).


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