Jewellery suppliers targeted by international scam
By Coleby Nicholson
An international scam is again targeting the Australian jewellery
industry as local suppliers report increased activity by Construct Data.
A long running international scam has reappeared in Australia. The scam targets jewellery suppliers, among others, listed to exhibit at trade shows and then offers to provide the exhibitor with a free listing on fairguide.com, an online directory that purports to promote the businesses at the trade fair.
However, after the exhibitor confirms the details of the free listing with Construct Data, a Slovakian-based operation, it begins to receive invoices for advertising. The scam has been around for some years with other Australian companies being contacted by Construct Data some years ago seeking payment for advertising on its online fair directory.
The WA Department of Commerce lists Data Construct on its Scamnet website
saying, “WA ScamNet became aware of the then Austrian-based company Construct Data Verlag AG, trading as FairGuide, in 2008. Around that time the company declared to the Protection Association Against Unfair Competition in Austria that it would stop sending mailings from Austria and it would stop targeting businesses in the European Union. Later that year the company was up and running again after moving to the Slovak Republic.”
Even though the organisers of major international and national trade shows have posted warnings on their websites cautioning exhibitors about solicitations from FairGuide, Expo Guide or the publisher Construct Data Verlag, many local jewellery suppliers continue to receive official looking correspondence from Construct Data.
One of the latest jewellery suppliers to be nearly caught by the international scam is Renee Blackwell Design.
Director, Chris Blackwell told Jeweller he was in the process of contacting the International Criminal Police Commission (Interpol) about Construct Data after he received correspondence that his business was listed on the website of an upcoming fair.
Blackwell explained that he received a letter to the company post office box from Construct Data advising that Renee Blackwell Design (RBD) was entitled to a free listing in its publication, the so-called ‘ FAIR Guide', because it was exhibiting at the Fashion Exposed Bags and Accessories Fair.
The letter is headed ‘Exhibitors Directory in the Fair Guide’ and alerts the reader to an ‘Expiry deadline’. It also lists the current fair directory entry as ‘Bags and Accessories Fair’, as well as correctly listing the organiser of the event – Australian Exhibitions & Conferences.
Read Construct Data's Letter and Payment Demand
The official looking letter reads, “Your current pre-registered data in the exhibitors directory is available in the form enclosed. In case the verification and confirmation of the data is not done in a timely manner, these could be deleted or declared incomplete on the next data revision. The update of your current data in the exhibitors directory is necessary for a problem-free contact with your company and to ensure that only accurate data to published.”
Blackwell said the correspondence included a copy of the listing for RBD, which had completely erroneous content, and asked that any content or contact information be corrected prior to release of FAIR Guide.
“How clever. Who, upon seeing their firm’s activities completely misrepresented in a publication claiming wide distribution, could resist sending a correction in to the publisher?” Blackwell said.
Believing it to be part of the official trade fair, he corrected the information and mailed it back to Construct Data. Blackwell was later sent a letter from Construct Data with an invoice for $1,717 for an enlarged promotional advertisement he had supposedly purchased.
Jeweller reported on the scam a few years ago after a number of local suppliers received similar ‘invoices’ from Data Construct. Gina Kougias, managing director Georgini had a similar experience to Blackwell some years ago but ignored all requests for payment.
“I still receive correspondence from the company [Construct Data] when we exhibit at fairs, but we just throw it in the bin,” she told Jeweller.
The scam is not restricted to Australia and it appears that Construct Data collects the contact details of companies that are exhibiting at various trade fairs around the world and begins sending the exhibitors information about the FAIR Guide.
In addition to the WA government’s Scamnet website, a quick internet search of ‘Construct Data’ will display other warnings including, Stop Construct Data Publishers Verlag AG, the FairGuide and Beware FairGuide/Construct Data.
Blackwell said he was no longer responding to Construct Data’s mail, which included several overdue payment notices.
Posted May 22, 2012