Monday 3/1/10 –
Are scam artists really just designers, designing a way to get paid illegally?
A giant event scam was unveiled this week in Boston Massachusetts. The event, promised to be “the biggest and most extravagant Home & Bridal show”, actually turned out to be a total scam that duped over 6,000 potential vendors and attendees. On NPR (WBUR) Boston, they reported that the head of the MCCA (people who run the venue) had no idea this site existed or the scam was happening.
So how did they do it? How did a few individuals scam hundreds of thousands of dollars out of wedding vendors and brides to be? Well, lets first take a step back and look at the evening TV lineup.
There has definitely been a huge increase in the last 2-3 years for bridal based shows on TV. Everything from the classic Bridezillas, to the ever popular Say Yes to the Dress. Here is the complete listing – http://bridestelevision.com/tv/allshows.php . Not to mention websites like The Knot, the largest wedding website community on the web.
This observation of TV and Web wedding domination is just one underlying factor. The second reason why this fake event scam worked, was the simplicity of execution and utilization of certain web services. The first service is available to anyone and allows a user to automatically create a convincing (and useful) event website in minuets. With this automated service you can sign up attendees, sell tickets and help promote your event. The only cost is a small fee on sales. Money can be sent to PayPal or GoogleCheckout with ease, or you can use the on-site service to collect payments and be paid.
Now, put on your business cap. Combine the heightened cultural saturation of Bridal TV Shows and Web Sites, with automated event planning and marketing services and spread the word virally via social networks. BAM! You have an event that people will pay money to be part of or attend.
Ok, now be smart about your scam (ha). Lets plan it around Valentines Day, the biggest wedding proposal day ever. Then, provide a phone number to call, and when people call you, answer the phone and be polite . Answer all questions, even if the question is “I do not see the event listed on the venue website, is it still happening?”.
So far, quite simple. The police even agree that the scam artists were “aware of the subject and market”. The whole operation was definitely planned out ahead of time, and most likely set up in as little as a few hours. Of course, we are not encouraging people to go out and make scam events and websites, but it is a fantastic example of how design, marketing, and cultural observation and research can make for great projects, and could even get you paid.
Design and marketing is about focusing your idea (or goal) to be the most effective. When talking in these primitive terms, ethics and legitimacy are not a factor. These scammers were aware of how to market, plan, and execute an event to a point of making hundreds of thousands of dollars. But, looks like they neglected to design how not to get caught.
So the moral of the story here is to please trust your common sense. Weddings are fun and exciting, and take lots of planning and effort. The last thing you need is to be, as a bride-to-be, is sucked dry of funds. Not to mention getting into a fight with your Fiancee about why you bought tickets to a fake event.Share