The Amsterdam Cannabis Expo, which was to be held from November 24 to 26, 2022, was ultimately just an old scam. A number of exhibitors, who had paid to exhibit, saw their money simply disappear.
L’Amsterdam Cannabis Expo 2022 began to gain prominence as early as 2020, launching a website and social media profiles, and offering sponsorship deals to a number of organizations.
Its website, which was only taken down last week, presented the event as an annual conference welcoming “thousands of industry professionals” from “more than 100 countries”.
Soon after, a myriad of third-party websites, many of which continue to advertise the event, added the event to their listings as well.
The three-day event was advertised as featuring a ‘prestigious awards show’ and a full program of speakers discussing ‘the latest trends’, and as offering exhibitors ‘the perfect opportunity to showcase your brand to the industry’.
At first glance, its website seemed completely legit, encouraging brands such as Orange County CBD to come forward.
Melanie Hatjigiannakis of Orange County CBD told BusinessCann that she found out about the event in May this year when she was compiling a list of industry events she wanted to attend in 2022.
” There was no red flag immediate at this point, because the website was very well filled with information that you expected to see,” she said.
On closer inspection, however, the main sponsors of the event did not even exist.
Other companies have been contacted directly by the event to offer sponsorship offers, but no information has been given on the content of these packages. One company reported that as soon as their conversations with the event began, one-day tickets were already sold out and only three-day tickets were available via bank transfer.
As the event drew closer, more glaring warning signs began to appear. Not only did the company not release any information about its program until its website was taken down, just two weeks before the event kicked off, but its anonymous organizers were unable to answer questions posed by exhibitors. .
Ms. Hatjigiannakis explained, “We always ask for a plan of the available exhibition space before making any commitments. It was when this plan arrived that we sounded the alarm. »
“Indeed, all the blocks of the same size (exhibition spaces) were drawn on the plan, which is not possible. You would know this if you had exhibited at previous events. We also noticed that no other company names were listed on the floor plan. »
All of the companies BusinessCann spoke to about the scam said their only contact with the organization was via a generic email address ([email protected]) and no names were ever given. been given.
While it’s not unusual for a generic email address to be used initially, Ms Hatjigiannakis said her “second alarm” was that these emails were never signed by a member of the team. sale.
“Usually the person you’re dealing with wants the commission for selling the space, so they make sure you know their name and direct contact information after the initial communication,” she said. added.
“Communication broke down when they kept asking us to pay the bill and we kept asking questions about the event that they clearly couldn’t answer. »
While Orange Country CBD ceased all contact before sending money, other exhibitors weren’t so lucky.
A cannabis tech company, which wished to remain anonymous, said it was in touch with event organizers as recently as October, but communication stopped entirely as soon as they sent their invoice.
They have since worked with their bank to get their money back; however, they were told last week that the bank account the money had been sent to was now empty, leaving them little recourse.
An “announced non-existent event”
Many of the companies involved would likely have continued their association with the non-existent event for much longer had it not been for the intervention of RAI Amsterdam, the exhibition center where the event was to take place.
Almost every company we spoke to said their suspicions about the fraudulent event were confirmed when they contacted RAI Amsterdam.
Each of them said they contacted the venue, which is still listed on many websites and Google as the host of the event, in an attempt to obtain information that was not provided by its organizers, to finally be informed that no event existed.
Following an increasing number of calls, the site was forced to issue a statement on October 7 warning the public that this event did not exist.
The RAI told BusinessCann: “We have received a few calls from exhibitors wishing to participate in this event. – Most with a request for additional information, and some after receiving zero reaction from the ‘organizer’ after prepayment.
“This is how we learned about this so-called event and issued a warning statement. »
“The RAI is not the only place mentioned as a location. The “organizer” of this event seems to have sent several articles (or published articles) to attract attention.
“We regret that someone is able to fabricate and advertise a fake event in the media. This is especially painful for businesses that have made a payment, expecting to attend and/or exhibit at an event. The exhibitors we spoke to found their way to the authorities. From what I understand, they are taking legal steps to get their money back. »
BusinessCann has contacted the organizers for comment, but has received no response at the time of writing.