The Australian Institute of Architects (AIA) Victorian chapter is reporting a major international scam that is targeted largely at Australian architects.
According to the AIA, various sources have reported that they have received emails containing information on project proposals from Qatari or Kuwaiti firms. In the emails, the scammers offer lucrative contracts for foreign developments to Australian architecture firms.
Not only are these tender offers rigorous in terms of corporate information, briefs and contextual information, the AIA has reported that the fraudulent email senders showed their proposed developments in context with other widely known projects already built or currently under construction. The emails also offer praise and acknowledgement of the targeted architectural firms’ design principles and works.
The extent of the background information put into this elaborate scam is incredibly alarming.
The scammers go on to arrange a meeting. They then ask for travel ‘reimbursement’ funds and further registration fees to be made. After payments are made, contact is cut off completely and communications cease, with any up front payments made by the victims lost.
In following up these claims, the Victorian architecture authority found that contact information was unmanned, disconnected or completely automated. Further ‘corporate’ information was found to actually completely replicate that of the Architects Registration Board in Jamaica.
While the Victorian chapter of the AIA has brought this issue into focus, similar cases of this scam have been reported in South Africa by the Pretoria Institute of Architects.
The AIA has warned architects against accepting any tenders calling for up front payment or the exchange of information from unsolicited and unknown sources.
The AIA has further called upon industry members to contact them if they receive email content of this nature.