The Consumer Technology Association (CTA) and other industry organizations are raising awareness about government and business impersonation fraud that has impacted a broad range of industries, trade shows and events and has grown worse during the pandemic.

CTA President and CEO Gary Shapiro told Trade Show Executive recently that a prospective exhibitor for CES 2022, a massive trade show that took place in Las Vegas last month, fell victim to a scam operator that was using CTA’s name to bilk companies out of thousands of dollars.

The growing problem of impersonation fraud, which often includes fraudulent email solicitations using company names and logos, has attracted the attention of the Federal Trade Commission (FTC), which has collected extensive data related to different impersonation scams and is seeking comment from the public before finalizing a rulemaking on the issue. The FTC said that, since the pandemic began, COVID-specific scam reports have included 12,491 complaints of government impersonation and 8,794 complaints of business impersonation.

“It is reprehensible that scammers are preying on people during this pandemic by pretending to be someone they can trust,” said Samuel Levine, director of the FTC’s Bureau of Consumer Protection. “The sharp spike in impersonation scams has cost our country billions and undermined response and relief efforts. The FTC is prepared to use every tool in our toolbox to deter government and business impersonation fraud, penalize wrongdoers, and return money to those harmed.”

The FTC’s Advance Notice of Rulemaking on Business and Government Impersonation seeks comments from the public about these schemes by Feb. 22.

Shapiro urged other industry groups to share their own experiences with impersonation fraud with the FTC before the upcoming deadline.

“This is a broad scale effort to fight the malicious actors who hurt our events by using our event names or implying they are the event organizer and selling fake services or lists and defrauding our unwitting customers,” Shapiro said.