An upcoming cardiology conference in Shanghai may be putting the “con” back in the word “conference,” according to a news item in TheScientist.Com by Alla Katsnelson. The article details the confusion and difficulties, including possible credit card fraud, that resulted when cardiologists and other scientists– including well-known University of Florida cardiologist C. Richard Conti– received invitations to attend the “1st International Cardiology Congress”  in Shanghai in December.

At least one scientist, David Iovannisci, a geneticist at Children’s Hospital Oakland Research Institute in California, reported false credit card charges of more than $2000 after paying a $600 registration fee and a $1200 fee for a tour of the country, reports Katsnelson.

Another figure mentioned in the story, well-known University of Florida cardiologist C. Richard Conti, was listed as a plenary speaker and had already purchased his airline ticket to Shanghai.

Dan Fintel, of the Bluhm Cardiovascular Institute at Northwestern, relates another strange detail in the story. Also listed as a plenary speaker, Fintel had already booked a flight for himself, his wife and his son when he was told by the organizers that, according to Katsnelson, “he must pay a $700 registration fee, unless he recruits four other cardiologists to participate in the meeting. In that case, in addition to waiving the fee, ‘they will give me $500 and pay my hotel,’ Fintel said.”

“I’ve never in my life been invited to speak at a symposium, and run a symposium, and pay an entrance fee,” Fintel is quoted as saying in the article.

Subsequent emails, according to the article, have further confused the issue, as various emails from China have contained contradictory information, including the possibility that one group of conference organizers may have stolen or copied materials from another group. The precise status of the conference is uncertain at this date.

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