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¿A fraud in Colombia in the name of the AIA?

  • 1.  ¿A fraud in Colombia in the name of the AIA?

    Posted 08-18-2020 18:36
    AIA,College of Fellows:

    Dear Sirs :

    As of today I am still, at 87, the only surviving Honorary Fellow of the AIA in Colombia.  I  wish to communicate to the AIA something that happened to me yesterday afternoon in my studio and which I beg you to transmit to whoever is in charge, at the AIA, of such bothersome affairs.

    I received yesterday a message from someone unknown to me, who does not mention whether he is or isn't an architect, under the title "AIA - CONTACTO AIAX COLOMBIA". Whoever sent that message with that title in spanish wrote, in the same language : My name is Marco Praga and since a few days ago I am the new Country Representative of the AIA INTL for Colombia ("country" and "representative" in english!). Hand in hand with the Regional Director (I did not know such entities or persons existed)  architect José Luis Salinas (never heard about him) we shall be coordinating the activities and events  most relevant to our region.  

    Needless to say I was surprised and bothered by such a communication, coming from a total stranger to me, having received regularly all the official information coming directly from the AIA and the College. No  information received  by me from the AIA says anything about a Mr. PRAGA or an architect by name of SALINAS having been named as representatives of the AIA for Colombia or the "region", much less about the sudden and unannounced creation of an international region including Colombia. So the purpose of this letter is to ascertain at the AIA and the College whether Mr. PRAGA is really what he says he is or not. 

    I became suspicious  upon reading the title which contains the initials AIA but not the logo of the AIA, followed by something I had never seen before, "CONTACTO AIAX COLOMBIA". I just don't know what that AIAX could possibly mean, unless it is some trick to avoid  being accused of using the AIA initials illegally, by adding an X to them.     

    As if this wasn't enough to arouse suspicion, the following paragraph is even more dubious: 
    it says, in spanish : In the data base of the AIA, some information is lacking (!) and I wanted to know whether it would be possible to send to me all your contact information Firm, charge , mail, telephone, cellular phone)...to be in communication.  ¿How does Mr. Praga know  what data may be lacking in the AIA archives? ¿has he been browsing in them looking for personal data about me and three other people to whom he addressed the same message? ¿does the AIA know about Mr. Praga's "investigation" of its private archives? Besides that, my data are duly registered and actualized in the AIA and are in the public domain, requiring no investigation to know all about me. 

    Finally, Mr. Praga writes, in spanish : I am in the process  of having my  AIA mail habilitated, which is marco.praga@aiainternational.org but in the meantime you may contact me at this email and the telephones in my firm's office.  ¿Can you tell me what is that about a "process to have my AIA mail habilitated"? I thought a personal mail came automatically with  a membership or affiliation to the AIA and, of course, to a supposed Country Representative of the AIA INTL. ¿What kind of mysterious and lenghty process is needed for that purpose?   

    There is no written or printed mention of Mr. Praga's profession or calling in his message. His name is followed only by "Director Associate, Latin America". Director of GVA, whatever that may be. But ¿what has such a mysterious entity to do with the AIA? In the aforementioned message there is only a cellphone number (+57) 321 491 7803, obviously registered in Bogotá, Colombia, but Mr. Praga's  email, which has the same letters identifying his firm, is mpraga@gva.la . That "la" ¿means that it is an address in Los Angeles USA? Mr. Praga's logo shows that he is in Google, Facebook and Twitter with "www.gva.la" but no mention is made of what is the professional, commercial or otherwise activity of the "GVA" firm. 

    I tend to suspect Mr. Praga to be possibly another of those frauds that turn up now and then in my computer and prowl around Bogotá. None, however, had tried before this to masquerade as representatives of the AIA. I will not try to contact him unless I have confirmation from you concerning Mr.Praga (an extremely unusual native name in Colombia). My thanks for any answer you may give to me on this matter.

    Sincerely yours,

    GERMAN TELLEZ CASTAÑEDA
    Architect, Hon. FAIA 
     

                


  • 2.  RE: ¿A fraud in Colombia in the name of the AIA?

    Posted 08-19-2020 10:11

    Both Marco Praga and Jose Salinas are included in the page for the AIA International region. See the following links:

    https://www.aiainternational.org/marco-praga

    https://www.aiainternational.org/jose-salinas



    ------------------------------
    David Metzger
    FAIA FCSI
    Bethesda MD
    ------------------------------



  • 3.  RE: ¿A fraud in Colombia in the name of the AIA?

    Posted 08-19-2020 17:42

    Dear Mr CASTAÑEDA

    I am the president of the AIA International Region. I am confirm that the communication you received is legitimate, and is on behalf of the AIA International Region. It may help if I explain a few things.

    Firstly, 'AIAX' refers to the membership designation used by AIA National  AIAX refers to Unassigned Members (hence the 'X').  Unassigned means that the AIA member is not a member of an AIA Chapter, and is therefore part of the International Region.  The International Region comprises 7 chapters and several hundred Unassigned Members.  The nature of the AIA is that members receive most of their benefits through their chapter connection.  In the International Region we have been trying to improve the member experience of Unassigned Members, and towards this end we have established a Country Representative program to better connect with Unassigned AIA members.  Margo Praga is the Country Representative for Colombia.  Jose Salinas, from Costa Rica, is one of two Directors on the AIA International Region Board, with specific responsibilities for Unassigned Members.  Please refer to the International Region website at https://www.aiainternational.org/board.  You will see that we have Country Representatives in 15 countries, and 3 Regional Representatives.

    With regard contact information, our records are incomplete for a small percentage of members.  For some we have email addresses, but not countries of residence.  For others we have countries of residence, but not email addresses.  All of the Country Representatives are trying to make contact with AIA members in their countries in an effort to better integrate them with the AIA.

    I would be pleased to continue the conversation with you over the weekend offline.  I have listed my email address and WhatsApp number below

    Regards



    ------------------------------
    Lester Korzilius FAIA
    President - AIA International Region

    lester.korzilius@aiainternational.org
    WhatsApp +44 7815 043921
    ------------------------------



  • 4.  RE: ¿A fraud in Colombia in the name of the AIA?

    Posted 08-19-2020 19:49
    Mr. Castaneda

    First, my congratulations for still remaining active and seemingly still practicing.  Having read your letter, I believe that what you received is a "phishing" scam that is an attempt on the part of the scammers to trick you into giving out your personal information such as your bank account numbers, passwords and credit card. Typically, this is done by including a link that will appear to take you to a website to fill in your information – but the website is a clever fake and the information you provide goes straight to the crooks behind the scam.

    If you have never seen or heard the term,  'phishing' is a spin on the word fishing, because criminals are dangling a fake 'lure' (the email that looks legitimate, as well as the website that looks legitimate) hoping users will 'bite' by providing the information the criminals have requested – such as credit card numbers, account numbers, passwords, usernames, and more.

    As you indicated there is a website address provided and the scammer is hoping you will click on that site address and be drawn into their trap. Software is now sufficiently sophisticated that they can then access your device aside from their hope that you simply provide them with the information they request.

    By the way, sometimes by hovering over the email address of the sender you may see the "real" address, but of more interest here is that, the website ends in ".la"  That is not Louisiana or Los Angles, and as best I can tell, it is Laos. Somehow, I doubt the "international AIA representative for Columbia, if there was one at all, is stationed in Laos.

    Hopefully, you have not responded or even clicked onto the addresses or website. Just delete the entire email

    Finally, given both your age and the extent of Covid-19 in Columbia, I trust you and all in your family, as well as friends and others you know, have been taking every single step and action to remain safe and healthy. Best wishes




    ------------------------------
    Elliott Dudnik FAIA
    Elliott Dudnik + Associates
    Evanston IL
    ------------------------------



  • 5.  RE: ¿A fraud in Colombia in the name of the AIA?

    Posted 08-19-2020 20:51
    Dear All
    This email is not a fraud.  The request came from the AIA International Region.  Over the past years the International Region has been working to build the AIA network in Latin America.  We recently established Country representatives for various Latin American and Central American countries with the intent on creating a network for members to engage and grow this region. Our At Large representative to our leadership team is listed in this email as is the country representative.  The AIA International Region has successful built 7 chapters in Canada, Shanghai, Japan, Hong Kong, the Middle East, Continental Europe and the UK.  With over 2800 members, our goal is to increase our reach in Korea, Taiwan, Shenzhen, Beijing, Singapore, Latin and Central America as well as   and the African Continent.

    Our largest challenge is to obtain the whereabouts and contact details of our members who live overseas and have not kept their addresses and contact details up to date, or have moved, or have allowed their memberships to lapse.  These unassigned members have kept their memberships in our organization and continue to support AIA.  Our goal is to offer them the same services and relationships that you enjoy in your various stateside regions while covering a diverse and large global area.

    Thank you for your concerns about this email, our president of the IR has also posted a message to Mr. Castaneda assuring him that this email is real and genuine.

    Best regards and thank you
    Gregory Yager FAIA
    AIA International Region Strategic Council Representative 2019 - 2021

    ------------------------------
    Gregory Yager FAIA
    Shanghai
    ------------------------------



  • 6.  RE: ¿A fraud in Colombia in the name of the AIA?

    Posted 08-20-2020 17:31

    Dear Mr. Castaneda,

    Mr. Praga is actually a country representative of the AIA International Region as noted by the current president of the AIA International Region, Lester Korzilius.

    We regret that Mr. Praga's communication inconvenienced you. The AIA will need to increase member awareness of the International Region and it's rapid development across the world.

    Wishing you the best,

    Thierry Paret, FAIA, NCARB, RIBA, ARB, MRIAI, LEED AP Immediate Past President 2020-2021
    AIA International Region
    E - thierry.paret@aiainternational.org

    Chair 2019-2020
    AIA Global Strategy Development Task Force

    Principal
    RDG
    New York - Munich



    ------------------------------
    Thierry Paret FAIA, MRIAI LEED AP
    Campus Architect
    KAUST
    Briarwood NY
    ------------------------------



  • 7.  RE: ¿A fraud in Colombia in the name of the AIA?

    Posted 08-20-2020 18:29
    Dear mr. Thierry Paret :

    Thank you for your letter on the matter of the International region in Colombia.
    Please correct my name: my first family name is TELLEZ and as such I am included in the AIA archives as a Honorary Fellow. I almost never use publicly my second family name, Castañeda. It was an oversight of mine. 

    Sincerely,

    GERMAN TELLEZ 






  • 8.  RE: ¿A fraud in Colombia in the name of the AIA?

    Posted 08-25-2020 09:03
    Edited by Muza Conforti 08-25-2020 09:17

    Dear Mr. Tellez,

    Thank you for letting AIA know of your concerns and reservations about the contact that was made to you by a country representative of the International Region (IR). We share your concerns about how this was handled and the lack of advance notice and clarity about the purpose for which the contact was made.

     

    This was discussed at the IR Board meeting this week and your feedback has been noted by them. In the meantime, please accept our sincere apologies for this misstep. AIA always favors full and clear disclosure of the purpose for organizational outreach, regardless of the regions and components from which it comes.

    Have a good week and know that AIA will work to ensure clarity moving forward.

     

    Thank you, Sarah Dodge

     

    Sarah Dodge
    Sr. Vice President of Advocacy & Relationships


    The American Institute of Architects
    1735 New York Avenue, NW, Washington, DC 20006
    T (202) 626 7309
    M (703) 405 8285
    sarahdodge@aia.org

    aia.org


    Original Message:
    Sent: 08-18-2020 18:35
    From: German Tellez
    Subject: ¿A fraud in Colombia in the name of the AIA?

    AIA,College of Fellows:
    Dear Sirs :
    As of today I am still, at 87, the only surviving Honorary Fellow of the AIA in Colombia.  I  wish to communicate to the AIA something that happened to me yesterday afternoon in my studio and which I beg you to transmit to whoever is in charge, at the AIA, of such bothersome affairs.
    I received yesterday a message from someone unknown to me, who does not mention whether he is or isn't an architect, under the title "AIA - CONTACTO AIAX COLOMBIA". Whoever sent that message with that title in spanish wrote, in the same language : My name is Marco Praga and since a few days ago I am the new Country Representative of the AIA INTL for Colombia ("country" and "representative" in english!). Hand in hand with the Regional Director (I did not know such entities or persons existed)  architect José Luis Salinas (never heard about him) we shall be coordinating the activities and events  most relevant to our region.  
    Needless to say I was surprised and bothered by such a communication, coming from a total stranger to me, having received regularly all the official information coming directly from the AIA and the College. No  information received  by me from the AIA says anything about a Mr. PRAGA or an architect by name of SALINAS having been named as representatives of the AIA for Colombia or the "region", much less about the sudden and unannounced creation of an international region including Colombia. So the purpose of this letter is to ascertain at the AIA and the College whether Mr. PRAGA is really what he says he is or not. 
    I became suspicious  upon reading the title which contains the initials AIA but not the logo of the AIA, followed by something I had never seen before, "CONTACTO AIAX COLOMBIA". I just don't know what that AIAX could possibly mean, unless it is some trick to avoid  being accused of using the AIA initials illegally, by adding an X to them.     
    As if this wasn't enough to arouse suspicion, the following paragraph is even more dubious: 
    it says, in spanish : In the data base of the AIA, some information is lacking (!) and I wanted to know whether it would be possible to send to me all your contact information Firm, charge , mail, telephone, cellular phone)...to be in communication.  ¿How does Mr. Praga know  what data may be lacking in the AIA archives? ¿has he been browsing in them looking for personal data about me and three other people to whom he addressed the same message? ¿does the AIA know about Mr. Praga's "investigation" of its private archives? Besides that, my data are duly registered and actualized in the AIA and are in the public domain, requiring no investigation to know all about me. 
    Finally, Mr. Praga writes, in spanish : I am in the process  of having my  AIA mail habilitated, which is marco.praga@aiainternational.org but in the meantime you may contact me at this email and the telephones in my firm's office.  ¿Can you tell me what is that about a "process to have my AIA mail habilitated"? I thought a personal mail came automatically with  a membership or affiliation to the AIA and, of course, to a supposed Country Representative of the AIA INTL. ¿What kind of mysterious and lenghty process is needed for that purpose?   
     
    There is no written or printed mention of Mr. Praga's profession or calling in his message. His name is followed only by "Director Associate, Latin America". Director of GVA, whatever that may be. But ¿what has such a mysterious entity to do with the AIA? In the aforementioned message there is only a cellphone number (+57) 321 491 7803, obviously registered in Bogotá, Colombia, but Mr. Praga's  email, which has the same letters identifying his firm, is mpraga@gva.la . That "la" ¿means that it is an address in Los Angeles USA? Mr. Praga's logo shows that he is in Google, Facebook and Twitter with "www.gva.la" but no mention is made of what is the professional, commercial or otherwise activity of the "GVA" firm. 
     
    I tend to suspect Mr. Praga to be possibly another of those frauds that turn up now and then in my computer and prowl around Bogotá. None, however, had tried before this to masquerade as representatives of the AIA. I will not try to contact him unless I have confirmation from you concerning Mr.Praga (an extremely unusual native name in Colombia). My thanks for any answer you may give to me on this matter.
     
    Sincerely yours,
     
    GERMAN TELLEZ CASTAÑEDA
    Architect, Hon. FAIA 
     
     
                


  • 9.  RE: ¿A fraud in Colombia in the name of the AIA?

    Posted 08-25-2020 10:15
    Dear Mr. Conforti :

    I received your kind message of today. My sincere thanks for it. I sent to Mr. Lester korzilius, at the IR a note as of yesterday in which I say, from my point of view, more or less the same ideas which you mention as the future way to conduct these foreign contacts at the AIA. I fully agree with you on all points in your letter.  

    Sincerely, 

    GERMAN TELLEZ
    Hon. FAIA