ATLANTA -- State investigators say a fake human rights conference in Atlanta is a scam designed to fleece would-be participants from their cash. The conference purports to explore worldwide human rights issues, but investigators say it does nothing of the sort.
Go to the website of the purported Atlanta Human Rights Foundation and at first blush, a very credible-looking website appears. "The website is very clever," said Noula Zaharis, director of the Charities and Securities Division of the Georgia Secretary of State.
On the site's main page, there's an image that shows the skyline of Manhattan. Click the "event" tab and it touts a conference in Atlanta later this month.
It reveals that the conference hotel is called the Norwich Hotel on Marietta Street. Go to that address on Marietta Street, and there is no such hotel.
In fact the website never really reveals the location of the conference. It lists an address near the airport which purports to be the foundation's headquarters. But instead you find another hotel.
"One of the biggest red flags was the language," Zaharis said. "It was choppy and it was grammatically incorrect as well as some punctuation errors." Zaharis said the first complaint came from the US Embassy in Equatorial Guinea, a central African country where residents complained they were being solicited to attend the Atlanta conference.
Try to register for the conference, and you can't without sending an email or making a phone call
"They ask you to reach them via email. Or they ask you to send them wiring instructions. They want the money upfront. So that's the scam," Zaharis said.
Investigators view this whole thing as a teachable moment for well meaning Georgians who may receive tempting offers over the internet. And when they raise red flags – there's probably a reason.
Georgians who suspect such fraudulent activity are invited to call the Secretary of State's investigators at 404-654-6021 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.