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December 18 2018Legal affairs

Exhibitors watch out! Scammers offer visitor lists

Lately, more and more trade fair organizers informed AUMA, that companies based abroad offer visitor lists to exhibitors. Exhibitors receive targeted e-mails in English before the trade fair, in which the sender promises to provide several thousand visitor data for the trade fair booked by the exhibitor, including company name, job title, e-mail address, telephone number, postal address and website address of the visitors. Now, for the first time, AUMA got to know of a case in which an exhibitor actually responded to such an offer and purchased 18,000 data records for US$ 350. The promised delivery, however, has still not taken place despite payment.

To be clear: German trade fair organisers do not pass on visitor data to address traders. Exhibitors can therefore assume that such offers are regularly made with fraudulent intent, as the promised data cannot be delivered at all. In addition, contact lists of address dealers have only a limited value anyway. Section 7 of the German Act against Unfair Competition (UWG) stipulates that contact for advertising purposes by e-mail or telephone is only permitted if the person concerned has given his express prior consent. Lists of e-mail addresses are therefore practically useless without a specific declaration of consent from the data subject.

The publicly accessible exhibitor directories of the trade fair organisers are misused by fraudsters in order to specifically address exhibiting companies in connection with their trade fair participation. A reference to the upcoming trade fair for which the exhibitor is registered suggests that a business relationship already exists and that there is a cooperation between the e-mail sender and the trade fair organiser. With this trick it is possible, that exhibitors respond to such offers and transfer money to accounts outside Europe. Once the money has been transferred abroad, it is virtually impossible to get the money back, especially if the amounts are only three-digit.

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Information on data protection at AUMA can be found here.