Just a quick warning on an email I received this week. It goes like this. You are invited to a big international conference on racism and child abuse to be held in two sessions, one in the USA and then the other in Senegal, and the sponsors of the event are going to pay for all the costs and expenses, except accommodation in Senegal (why will become clear below). They ask you if you are interested and provide a means to register.
If you register, however, they will tell you that you have to be able to attend both sessions, and for a visa to Senegal you need to show you already have a hotel reservation. You need to make a deposit of one night in order to hold the reservation and get the letter the visa department needs, and - here comes the scam - they provide you with a facility through which you can send the money.
But there's no hotel and no conference. The facility is Western Union or Moneygram, neither of which has any way of identifying the recipient of your money once it's collected. Once you have paid the "hotel deposit", you will never hear from them again.
It's back to the old adage: If it sounds too good to be true, it probably IS too good to be true!
By the way, I am organizing an international conference on post-rational discourse over here in the UK, and .....