Specialist caught up in alleged scam conference

Anger has erupted over an oncology  “conference” due to be staged in Melbourne in November, amid allegations the event is a scam.

Pathologist Dr Michael Bilous, conjoint professor at the University of Western Sydney, is billed on a “tentative program” for the “Asia Pacific Oncologists Annual Meeting 2017” to chair a session and present a paper on HER2 testing.

But Dr Bilous claims he never agreed to take part in the event – one of five medical “conferences” planned by India-based company Conference Series – and has demanded his name be removed from advertising.

Conference Series is already facing allegations that a two-day endocrinology “CPD event” it held in Melbourne last month was fake, with at least one complaint made to the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC).

When contacted by the limbic Dr Bilous said he was shocked to discover he was listed on the program because he never agreed to be involved.

However, he did present a paper on HER2 testing at the same event last year in Kuala Lumpar (KL), and said it appeared the 2016 program had simply been replicated.

Dr Bilous said he was in KL for a pathologists’ workshop when he was asked to present at the oncology event.

Held in a small room with only about 30 delegates, he found it “poorly organised and lacklustre” but did not suspect it wasn’t bona fide.

“It didn’t strike me as being not genuine, just small and poorly organised,” he said in an interview.

But he’s now demanded Conference Series remove his name from its 2017 program, and has threatened to lodge a complaint with the ACCC.

Last year both Conference Series and related entity OMICS Group were subject to legal action by the US consumer watchdog Federal Trade Commission, which alleged conferences were promoted to feature academic presenters who never agreed to participate, to induce people to pay up to $1000 to attend.

A second man claims he is being falsely advertised on a Conference Series program.

Simon Gillard, a former police officer who now advocates to raise awareness about post-traumatic stress disorder, said he submitted an abstract for the 28th International Conference on Psychiatry and Mental Health many months ago, before researching the company where it “became quite apparent they are a scam.”

“I never heard anything back from them regarding the November 21st conference and then about a week ago saw my abstract, photo and bio listed as presenting.

“I have asked them to remove me from the conference, media and any affiliation with them.

“I am annoyed that they would promote my attendance on the web without any consultation and, moreover it may lead to others thinking the conference is more reputable.

In an email response, Conference Series said Mr Gillard “dint (sic) informed to our management that he want to withdraw his abstract”.

“But taking your mail into consideration we came to know that he is not willing to attend the conference and we removed him from our website.”

Mr Gillard’s name was still on the program at time of publication.

Conference Series has not responded to questions about Dr Bilous.

The ACCC has already received a complaint from a woman who paid $1125 for her dietitian sister to attend Conference Series’ 11th Obesity and Endocrinology Summit in Melbourne in July.

It was billed as a CPD event, but she claimed there was no exhibitors, no-show keynote speakers, only 30 delegates and no system for claiming CPD points.

A spokesman for the ACCC said it is “making enquiries into Conference Series and its events in Australia”.

“Under Australian Consumer Law, businesses are not allowed to make statements that are incorrect or likely to create a false impression.”

“The ACCC suggests that people contact their industry bodies for advice before booking a conference. Consumers with concerns about Conference Series can contact the ACCC or their state fair trading agency.”

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