Be advised, be vigilant, beware in any dealings with
Expo Guide/FairGuide.com/Construct Data Verlag
and other questionable practices
In the past we have provided you with information concerning a scam perpetrated against exhibitors by FairGuide.com/Construct Data Verlag with their misleading directory services. Well there is now a new organisation, Expo Guide, which is working out of Mexico and which is suspiciously similar to FairGuide.
Expo Guide/FairGuide.com/Construct Data Verlag target companies through legitimate exhibition guides aimed at exhibitors. Their current activities cover companies throughout Europe, the Americas and Asia.
Expo Guide joins FairGuide in claiming to offer online listing services. They use a form which resembles an organiser's free catalogue listing service, inviting exhibitors to complete the form for an entry in an on-line directory. Unsuspecting exhibitors who sign and return the form are then contracted into a three-year, non-retractable agreement, which could cost the exhibitor a significant amount of money, with no foreseeable benefits.
Included in their group is debt collection agency Gravis Inkasso Gmbh and Swiss debt collection agency Premiumn Recovery AG (a Construct Data subsidiary) which works in partnership with the various guides to intimidate exhibitors into paying.
These publications have no connection with exhibition organisers or any of their events. It is important that all companies who are exhibiting are made aware of this.
We strongly advise our UFI members, all exhibitors and the entire exhibition community, to be most vigilant against this and similar organisations. These organisations can cause extreme damage and harm to the reputation of our exhibition industry.
There are many so called guides that mail deceptive contracts and then harass those who sign them in error for money. However the sheer scale and systematic way in which these guides attack the credibility of our exhibition industry is outrageous. So please take the initiative and advise your exhibitors before they are deceived by these fraudulent practices.
Copies of relevant correspondence on this subject is available by clicking on the following links:
UFI Legal Counsel advisory notice to Construct Data/FairGuide dated 14 October 2005
Letter from UFI President to the Austrian Bundesminister für Wirtschaft und Arbeit dated 25 October 2005
Reply to UFI from the Bundesministerium für Wirtschaft und Arbeit dated 21 December 2005
FTC Stops Foreign Operation That Scammed Many Small Businesses and Nonprofits
Into Paying Millions of Dollars for Bogus Online Directory
If approached by Construct Data you should immediately contact your local Austrian Embassy to provide information concerning problems with this organisation. The Osterreichisches Patentamt, the Austrian Protective Association against Unfair Competition, and the Austrian Advertising Council have each taken steps against these misleading practices.
Through the combined efforts and vigilance of us all, we will certainly succeed in defending the interests of the international exhibition industry - and those of our clients!
More information is available by clicking on the following links:
The legal case against Construct Data continues in the USA
. Working out of Slovakia, Wolfang Valvoda was recently formally charged for his role in an international mass marketing business directory scheme which defrauded consumers. An Illinois Grand Jury has indicted Valvoda with mail fraud.
Businesses were led to believe that the forms they received were for a free listing for a particular trade show and not an order for an expensive listing in a different, and useless, internet directory called Fairguide. Forms from Construct Data to unsuspecting exhibitors misleadingly suggested that the directory listing was directly related to the consumer’s participation in the trade show listed on the forms. It is estimated that over 1000 victims in the US sent over $2 million to Construct Data as a result of this scheme.
Exhibition organizers are strongly advised to warn their exhibitors of this potential scam which continues to be carried out in other countries around the world.
US Grand Jury indicts Valvoda for Business Directory Scam
US State of Illinois press release on Construct Data Indictment
cautions by HKTDC:
AEO Useful Guidance
Messe Bozen against Construct Data (May 2008)
Following work by the Austrian 'Schutzverband gegen unlauteren Wettbewerb' (equivalentof the Office of Fair Trading), Construct Data signed a further undertaking on 21st February 2008. Original here (in German)
The settlement in Austria where Fairguide agreed to stop harrassment of many people who dispute their contracts
Letter from the Federation to prevent Unfair Competition, Vienna dated November 2006
Letter from the Federation to prevent Unfair Competition, Vienna dated 15 December 2005
Belgian legal position
FairGuide sample registration form
Financial Times Article
Daily Mirror Article
German Press Information
Presentation of Premium Recovery AG
Actions of StopECG