I was recently assigned a story I’ve been assigned many times before: Write about Trade Show scams and the ATA’s official Trade Show service providers. “Official providers” are vendors who work with the ATA to offer Show services to ATA members. The ATA advises members to use these official providers for various reasons, one of which is because scads of scammers prey on trade-show goers.
First, let me give scammers their due early in this article because — if nothing else — they’re clever enough to draw well-meaning archery companies into their full menu of schemes. This is what prompts so much ATA effort to ask its members to BEWARE.
While we can’t eradicate scammers or their solicitations – no more than we can prevent near-guaranteed weight gain from eating fried chicken – we can warn members to be skeptical and resist them. (Come to think of it, maybe fried chicken is a scam and the Colonel’s intentions weren’t as pure as his white suit.)
Regardless, there is no “maybe” about scammers targeting our industry. Earlier this year, a federal court banned Slovakia-based scam artists from selling entries to a phony online trade-show directory. The scammers are known as Construct Data/Fair Guide. As archerytrade.org reported, the scammers solicited some ATA Trade Show exhibitors for an online “exhibitor directory,” even though it had no connection to the Show. Most ATA members did not cooperate, but others were not as fortunate.
Two years ago, the SHOT Show posted a blog comparing scammers to zombies and warned against this same Slovakian group. The post was cleverly titled, “The Zombie-like Reappearance of Trade Show Directory Scams.” Here’s an excerpt:
They’re at it again. Like the living dead, various unscrupulous trade show directory scam artists have reappeared to haunt SHOT Show exhibitors. Construct Data Verlag AG of Slovakia (formerly of Austria), which produces FAIRGuide, is seeking to take advantage of unsuspecting businesses that may still be cleaning the dust off their shoes from the recent SHOT Show.
But there are a lot more scammers out there in addition to those targeting member directories. For example, some pose as official show travel vendors selling room reservations that don’t exist. And one of the most detailed scams involved a California woman who sold exhibit space for nonexistent shows. Not only did she hire unsuspecting sales people from Monster.com to sell “pretend” space, she created professional websites for each “pretend” show. She never intended to hold any of the shows.
So How Do You Guard Against This Foolishness?
1. Look for and recognize this logo.
2. Review this list of our Official Service Providers.
- Archery Business: Goodie Bag and Literature Kiosks
- Indiana Convention Center: Facility Services, Rigging and Utilities (electrical)
- ONstage (formerly Tech Rentals): Audio Visual
- QMS Services Inc.: Lead Retrieval
- Shepard Exposition Services: General Service Contractor
- Shepard Logistics Services: Exhibit Materials Transportation
- Smart City Networks: Internet and Data Services at the Indiana Convention Center
- That’s Nice: Big Buck Tags
- Visit Indy Housing Bureau: Hotel Reservations
- Inside Archery / Zebra Publishing: Official Show Guide & Membership Directory and Pocket Guide
3. Look for clues.
Scammers often drop a vital clue: They require upfront payment. If this happens, do your due diligence (see No. 1 and 2 above) before providing payment information.
4. Contact Maria Lewis.
ATA Trade Show Coordinator Maria Lewis can answer your questions regarding a vendor that has solicited your business and is not listed above. You can reach her at (866) 266-2776, ext. 2, or at firstname.lastname@example.org.