Police found 2 fake neurological conferences advertised for Toronto
The hotel listed by the conference says it was never booked for the event
Police are warning the public to be careful after finding that two neurological conferences advertised as happening in Toronto don't appear to exist.
A local chapter of the Alzheimer Society of Canada contacted the financial crimes unit after seeing ads for the 7th International Conference on Dementia Care and Practice, Const. Jenifferjit Sidhu said — but the organization knew nothing about it.
It had been linked to another event, the 4th International Conference on Brain Disorders and Brain Injury, which would take place at the same time, according to the ads.
"But those conferences are non-existent," Sidhu told CBC Toronto.
- How vulnerable are you to online fraud?
- Mississauga man facing 54 charges for online credit card fraud
Police discovered that the hotel listed as the site for the conferences, a Holiday Inn near Pearson airport, had never been booked to host either event.
Investigators tried calling a spokesperson for the conferences, but said they were hung up on after identifying themselves as police officers, according to a media release. And once police got in touch with the alleged "organizing committee" listed on the site, they found that none of the people mentioned had heard of either conference.
"We would call that a clue," Const. Craig Brister told CBC News.
"One website we looked at they have an organizational committee, which has photos and contact information from people from all over the world. I understand investigators have contacted some of these people who don't have any information or any idea what this conference is about," he said.
Allied Academies, the parent website for the conference, describes itself as a "global assembling of Academicians" and lists numerous conferences it alleges it's hosted around the world.
But when CBC Toronto called the number associated with the website, the person who picked up refused to answer questions or offer any tangible evidence that the conferences were real.
The person identified himself as Eric Bruce, a department head with Allied Academies, and said the conference was legitimate — but hung up during the call. He said he was located in Nevada.
Sidhu said that it's unclear whether those advertising the conference have done anything illegal. There have been no complaints from anyone to say they've lost money, she said.
Police encourage anyone with concerns about a suspicious website to report it to the Canadian Anti-Fraud Centre.