A little over a week ago, CoinDesk posted a press release [note]Original press release link is here, but CoinDesk has deleted the content.[/note] for The London Bitcoin Forum [note] Original website here. Archived version is here, just in case[/note], a previously unheard of gathering of “more than 60 expert speakers and 20+ media partners for a prestigious two-day event featuring powerful keynote talks, plenty of networking opportunities, demos and panels”.
It seemed odd to me that a conference would only announce itself one month in advance of the event. I wondered if maybe they had already secured speakers and content in private, and this was merely the first promotion to sell tickets. However, the website did not list any speakers at all and the sponsors seemed to be a mix of heavy hitters and bitcoin gambling website links.
Very suspicious! So I contacted CoinDesk:
— Bitcoin Error Log (@BitcoinErrorLog) February 29, 2016
They did not respond, but I noticed the next day that they had removed the press release and deleted their original tweet promoting it. [note]Tweet is archived here for now.[/note]
— Bitcoin Error Log (@BitcoinErrorLog) March 1, 2016
The original press release content is still available as posted by some other Bitcoin news websites, like The Merkle, here. [note]Full text archived here: “On March 23 & 24 2016, taking place at the QEII Centre, in the heart of London, The London Bitcoin Forum is bringing together 900 attendees, more than 60 expert speakers and 20+ media partners for a prestigious two-day event featuring powerful keynote talks, plenty of networking opportunities, demos and panels about upcoming challenges and opportunities provided by Bitcoin and the Blockchain Technology in this new emerging reality where collaboration is the key.
Attendees that participate will have the opportunity to meet those at the forefront of the Bitcoin & Blockchain community and gain new insights from important talks like: Public vs Private Blockchains, Financial Smart Contracts, Distributed Ledger Technology. Unlike many other events, the London Bitcoin forum will feature an important debate on Scaling Issues, Blocksize Limit, Forks and also a panel on Global and UK Regulation & Compliance. New Speakers are welcomed to register until March 5th.
With a large select audience of experts, financial executives, entrepreneurs, fund managers, journalists and an impressive speaker line-up, The London Bitcoin Forum offers a unique opportunity for sponsors to showcase companies, product innovations or services to those that really matter, get in touch with investors or use it as a recruiting platform in the – Career Opportunities with Blockchain Companies – section. In this section companies looking to expand their teams are invited to present their Bitcoin related job offers, internships and career opportunities. Anyone passionate about Bitcoin & Blockchain interested in helping build the future is also invited to take part in this section for career insights and maybe find their new employer.
The forum will feature a panel dedicated to Bitcoin Casinos and Gambling websites focusing on talks about how Bitcoin can reshape the online gambling industry and showcase some of the best online casinos which accept Bitcoin.
Early bird tickets for the forum are now live at www.londonbitcoinforum.co.uk. The early bird rate (£115 for a Full 2-Day Pass) will apply until March 5th. Students have the opportunity to purchase a ticket for just £75.
For more information on the London Bitcoin Forum, please visit www.londonbitcoinforum.co.uk.
Primary Contact: email@example.com
Sponsorship & Exhibitions: firstname.lastname@example.org
Press Office: email@example.com
If you liked this article follow us on twitter @themerklenews and make sure to subscribe to our newsletter to receive the latest bitcoin and altcoin price analysis and the latest cryptocurrency news.
NOTE: This is a press release, any product / service mentioned is not endorsed by The Merkle.”[/note]
A representative from the QEII Centre said the event does not exist, and that the London Bitcoin Forum website is “very convincing.” They are trying to contact the company responsible. The scam at hand appears to be to sell tickets online via CoinKite’s [note]They have been notified as well.[/note] checkout service, and presumably have people show up to be told there is no Bitcoin event at all that day.
CoinDesk has not made any effort to warn its readers as a public service. Alistair Milne, of Altana Digital Currency Fund, was duped into signing on as a speaker, and now has his name is unwittingly attached to what is most likely a scam.
— Alistair Milne (@alistairmilne) March 8, 2016
“We bought tickets after viewing the conference on Coin Desk. We paid 230 GBP for 2 tickets. This is messed up. How could Coin Desk not even retract their press article???” [note]Source.[/note]
“We were approached and had sponsored the conference after the conference after the Coin Desk article. I do not want to state our company. We paid 600 GBP to post our logo on the website and be be part of the gift package.” [note]Source.[/note]
“I totally bought tickets for this event. Fuck!!! It really was a convincing site!” [note]Source.[/note]
According to their Submit a Press Release page, anyone can “Post your news on CoinDesk for only $99”, and “appear in our daily email which is sent to 21,000+ subscribers.”
Will CoinDesk publicly address its poor oversight of its pay-to-play services?
Will they change policy in how they inform on potential scams?
UPDATES: CoinDesk has just published following tweet:
Update: @CoinDeskPR has removed a press release on London Bitcoin Forum, amid concerns about its legitimacy (7 days ago).
— CoinDesk (@coindesk) March 8, 2016
@BitcoinErrorLog We will review current policies and find out what went wrong here first. So potentially.
— CoinDesk (@coindesk) March 9, 2016
CORRECTIONS: This article was updated at the request of CoinDesk, to remove insinuations that they may be selling email lists to advertisers as part of their Press Release service. CoinDesk said that it does not offer such service.