The sorry end of FlashEurope

As devoted readers will know, I first warned the community about Flash Europe in September of last year, when one of my good friends got a phone call from the credit card processing company they were using at the time to alert her to some suspicions they had about whether the event would be going ahead. At that time, the credit card company assured her that her money was safe and would be refunded by them. After blogging about this, I was contacted by Harold who told me that they were going to postpone the conference and make a public announcement in a few days time and asked me to remove the blog post as it was hurting their efforts. He sounded sincere and, not wanting to obstruct what I thought at the time was a genuine community event, I removed a blog post for the first time. The last-minute postponement meant that some people (including myself) got burned because we had already bought plane tickets.

Unfortunately, things did not improve and the FlashEurope "organizational committee" went into silent mode. After many unanswered emails and on the heels of Peter Elst's post on the same subject, I had to blog to ask Can someone from FlashEurope please contact me? in which I stated "I don't know what the deal is with Flash Europe but there appears at best to be some serious lack of organization going on."

I also set up a FlashEurope mailing list so attendees and speakers could at least talk to each other because none of us could reach the organizational committee.

Following that post, I got an angry phone call from Harold. You can read the whole story on my post titled I've pulled out of Flash Europe. Needless to say, I told Harold there-and-then that I had very serious reservations about the event and would have nothing whatsoever to do about it. I also asked him to remove my name from the list of speakers on the FlashEurope web site. Even though the site has been redone in Flash since that day, my name is still on the list of speakers.

My FlashAnt posts have served as a sort of gathering place for those who have been burned by this event. To read other people's experiences, read the comments here, here and here.

I've compiled a list of important highlights from these comments below:

"Hi Aral and fellow Flash developers,

After not having heard from FlashEurope for two weeks now, I do start feeling that I made a big mistake by registering as an attendee. The person I had contact with was the guy called Udo. He confirmed he received my payment, however after that -nothing. I am wondering if anyone could help me with any contact information for these people or any ideas as to how to get money back from them. does bounce as well as several other email addresses listed on their website.

. . .

I have spoken to the New Scotland Yard today and recon everyone who paid them should report what happened to their local police authorities. I have already done that. The guys have clearly taken our money and disappeared. The more cases we get on board - the better, but I would like to ask others what they think about this strategy.

Igor Volk

* * *

"hello all. I would just like to say that although your concerns are warranted - there is no need to contact scotland yard or authorities. ; )

I too am scheduled as a speaker and since that time have relocated to Barcelona. I have spoken to Harold and noone is getting screwed. I won't go into all the details, but I think part of the issue is the lack of connectedness with the community since the promoters do not come from the flash world.

I put together the programs for the first 2 FlashInTheCans and have been to my share of Flash events. I am now coming on board and working to make this event the best I can. I saw these posts and had to do something just based on the negative energy.l think this event coud possibly be one of the best conferences yet. So please - I will have more news this week we are working on some things and I am busting ass to get things going - speakers mail list and confirmed information.

I feel where you are coming from - I felt the same way - but I am now working with Harold to ensure this thing goes off brilliantly.

I will add more info as I get it. It is NOT a hoax and noone will get ripped off. Things need to be done right and I am lending a hand to ensure they do

. . .

I do not *represent* FE officially I am merely stepping in to assist and make it the conference it could, should and will be . . . I feel where you are coming from - I felt the same way - but I am now working with Harold to ensure this thing goes off brilliantly.

I will add more info as I get it. It is NOT a hoax and noone will get ripped off. Things need to be done right and I am lending a hand to ensure they do."

Craig Swann

* * *

"Dear all,

Last July we received the request of Flash Europe to place their 2004 meeting in our facilities and met Harold Polo personally. On september 2004, the dates of the meeting were moved to March 2005. We confirmed our availability and interest to held this Event. After some time without emails, nither phone calls and the total lack of communication from Flash Europe' part, last december 2004 we have been forced to cancel all the meeting rooms reservation and we have not heard about HAROLD POLO so far.

So please, be advised that as far as we are concerned the Flash Europe Meeting next march is not happening in our Campus. Thank you.

We hope this will clear some of the questions you had.

PS.As I cannot post my coment, I am sending an email to all ouf you. We remain at your disposal, Kindest Regards,

Agencia de Promocio d'Activitats i Congressos - UAB Campus"

(The venue where FlashEurope is supposed to take place.)

* * *

"my dear, now the new date is: jun 15th-17th 2005

the homepage was redesigned... but strange thing still no feedback by the organizers.

now there's even a newsletter. but i receive a message quota full.

i want my money back. they didn't do anything, no mail, no fax, no telephone responds. i think i have to take legal steps,

does anybody else got the same problem?

has anybody a working address? e.g. harald polo?

i've send a letter to meta media studios, comte borrell 122, 08015 barcelona, spain"


* * *

"hello everybody!

To begin... I'm sorry that my english isn't so good... I also want my money back, but the money that I payed to Harold Angulo Polo for a flat (that surprisingly is in comte borrell 122, Barcelona. Where he has his company Meta Media Studios and also IQ Networks). He rented to us (erasmus students) this flat for two months cause he was going to Germany, and we payed him the two months plus 1 moth of "fianza" (i don't know how to translate this...)when we entered the flat. So he went to Germany and after 1 week came to the flat the owner of the flat and told us that Harold didn't pay the rent since the last 8 months... We tried to get in contact with him cause he gave us a telephone number, but he never answers. We got also an email adress and we wrote him many times, but he didn't answer... He readed our emails cause we wrote our telephone in them and he called us (of course, from a public telephone). The problem is that he calls but just for that you know that he is alive, cause he tells that he can't speak at that time, but he'll call the same afternoon... Then in that afternoon you wait for his call, but he never calls... So... I just wanted that everybody knows that this man is cheating everybody: the owner of the flat in comte borrell 122 1º 1ª of Barcelona, to us the students, to all of the people who wanted to go to this Flasheurope meeting and probably to many other people. If somebody has some news about this man please tell me how to get in contact with him. Thanks"

* * *

"woah. Looks like I got my money back. The bank i payed it to (Caja de Madrid) has returned the money I payed for entering Flash Europe. No reason specified."


* * *

"Hi everyone,

I am Udo Thoennissen, the person you mentioned who apparently sent you invitations and called you in relation with Flasheurope. Friends adviced me that my name appears in this site and I am terrified to read your experiences with Harold Angulo and his conference. I lived with him in a flat in c/Comte Borrell 122 for a few months till september 2004, because I was studying a master course at UIC Barcelona. As I was all day in school I didn't know exactly what this man was doing. I left the flat because he stole me a big amount of money and other things but I can't bring it to proof. Now I realize that he never paid the rent of the flat that I paid him. I left Barcelona and returned to Germany.

I have to say you that I have NOTHING to do with Flasheurope. Harold is using my name for his fraudulent business.

Since weeks I am trying to get in contact with him per phone to recover some of my things, but without success. I guess that he is still living in c/Comte Borrell 122, 1.1a, that he mentions as registered office of Flasheurope. At the moment I'm not able to contact him neither.

I hope that this story will end up well and that all of you get your money back."


* * *

At this point, it is not difficult to see why Martin de Visser blogged FlashEurope: a scam, it's official.

Finally, today, I received an email sent out by Craig Swann to members of the Flash community. I present it in its entirety below:

"Fellow Flashers,

I am writing to you all to let you know that I am no longer attempting to assist, help out or make FlashEurope in anyway a reality. Being in Barcelona, and wanting nothing more than an exciting event in this city to bring such wonderful people together, I volunteered my time and energy to try and coordinate elements within the community. I had sourced a wonderful venue, spoken with many of you and started developing a Program Outline for the Event.

However, the people behind this event do not have the experience, resources, or commitment necessary to create this event at the

level most of us are used to and, more importantly, expect from an International conference.

I also know that there has been much said online with regards to the organizers. I cannot confirm or deny anything, but based on my own experiences and the advice and information I have personally received I think it is in my best interest not to be involved with FlashEurope in any capacity. I came on-board with a love and passion for community and events - of bringing great people together to share in brilliant human energy.

On principle, I would like very much to see something happen here in Barcelona, but I don't see it happening in the form of FlashEurope.

I am not sure whether or not you will be contacted further by anyone else on behalf of FlashEurope. If you do - my advice is to proceed with caution.

I look forward to seeing, sharing, and speaking with many of you in the future, and strongly believe that there is still a way to create and foster an exciting event in Europe that will allow us all to share and be inspired.

Thanks for your time, your patience and your understanding. Sincerely

Craig Swann"

* * *

I don't know what actions have already been taken and what actions can be taken but something has to be done about this. I know friends personally who have bought tickets and have recently been told by the bank that they cannot have their wire transfers refunded because there is no money left in the account it was sent to. Case in point: Emma. She just posted a comment regarding her own experience:

"I tried to recall funds through my bank and found out today that there's no money in Harold's account. So Don't bother if you're thinking about attempting it.

I know I'm not the only one in this situation. I don't know if it's worth chasing this guy or not, but if anyone else is thinking of contacting fraud units or the police, and need more evidence, people involved etc, feel free to contact me."

I hope this post helps gather all the relevant information together and helps out with whatever action is taken regarding this.