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Business Awards Email Scam Alert

A new scam going around by email.

This evening I got an email from one of my innkeepers I work with. She had gotten an email containing the following:

 ---------------------------------------------------------

I am pleased to announce that XXX XXX  B & B has been selected as a winner of the 2012 Best of Kailua Awards in the Bed & Breakfast Accommodations category by the Kailua Award Program committee.

Our selection of your company is a reflection of the hard work of not only yourself, but of many people that have supported your business and contributed to the subsequent success of your organization. Congratulations on joining such an elite group of small businesses.

In recognition of your achievement, we offer a variety of ways for you to help promote your business. You automatically receive the complimentary digital award image from this email and a copy of the press release publicizing the selection of XXX XXX  B & B which is posted on our website. The Kailua Award Program hereby grants XXX XXX  B & B a nonexclusive, royalty-free license to use, reproduce, distribute, and display this press release and the digital award image in any media formats and through any media channels.          

Additionally, as a winner of the 2012 Best of Kailua Awards selection, you may select a customized award which has been designed for display at your place of business by following the simple steps on the 2012 Best of Kailua Awards order form.

Simply copy and paste this link into your browser to access the order form:

http://kailua.awardlink2012i.com/XXXXXX  

The Kailua Award Program recognizes outstanding local businesses throughout the Kailua area. Each year, we identify companies that we believe have achieved exceptional marketing success in their local community and business category. These are local companies that enhance the positive image of small business through service to their customers and community.

In order to provide you with the best possible service, you have been assigned an award code that can be used on our website for quick access to your award information and press release. If you have any questions or comments, please include this code with your correspondence.

Your Award Code is: XXX XXX  XXX XXX  

Click here to receive your award

Questions? Please call us at: 1-888-731-3985 and select option 1.

Changes? If any of your business information is incorrect please let us know.

Sincerely,

Kelly McCartney

Award Committee

Kailua Award Program

------------------------------------------------------------------

My poor innkeeper was quite excited and wanted to know how to go about adverting it.

After reading this text and checking out the website, my scam radar went off. I couldn’t find anything at the BBB site nor the scam reports online, but something still struck me as fishy.

I put a portion of the text into Google and “Bam” up came a bunch of scam report sites relating to the Board of Review, US Commerce Association scam. Also known as the the USCA scam.

The scam itself is getting business owners to fork over money for a Award or Plaque with their name on it, for a totally bogus made-up award.

It appears the new website was just registered the beginning of July 2012, so I expect to see more of these emails go around as good old Kelly has a new venue to pursue. http://www.networksolutions.com/whois-search/awardprogram.org for registration information.  This is probably why it hadn't pinged any of the scam report sites yet as it's a brand new site.

I know when the US Commerce Association scam was running hot and heavy a few years ago, quite a few B&Bs and many other businesses got suckered into ordering awards.

For some comments from the BBB about the US Commerce Association

http://spokane.bbb.org/article/all-that-glitters-us-commerce-association-awards-to-biz-may-not-be-what-they-seem-11397 and some other site references http://www.theoriginalsource.com/us-local-business-association-award-or-scam.html and http://sbditc.wordpress.com/2009/08/25/small-business-award-scam/

Also as you can see http://www.uscaaward.com  bears an uncanny resemblance to

http://losangeles.awardprogram.org for example.

If you are a business owner and get an email similar to this one, and the link has a domain ending it awardprogram.org  prefaced by something similar like newyork.awardprogram.org, please delete as it’s not legitimate.

As the BBB puts it quite succintly:

· Learn everything you can about who is giving the award. If it is coming from a mystery company, chances are it simply wants your money.

· If you didn’t apply for an award or the group cannot tell you how you were nominated, chances are the award is not legitimate.

· Most legitimate awards do not come with costs for the recipient. If there is a cost, scrutinize it even more closely.

This post is contributed by a community member. The views expressed in this blog are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of Patch Media Corporation. Everyone is welcome to submit a post to Patch. If you'd like to post a blog, go here to get started.

Autosmith Cars August 16, 2012 at 01:57 PM
The owner of the company I work for received the award email from "Kelly" this week and had me check it out. Of course just from the generic-ness of the award I knew something wasn't right. And of course I too Googled a portion of the email and found you! Thanks for the write up! Meredith
Heather Turner August 16, 2012 at 05:53 PM
Glad it helped Meredith, It appears many people have gotten sucked into this already this past month. I just googled the domain name and now it pops up with people advertising they got the award from this "company", as compared with a few weeks ago when it didn't hit any sites as of yet.
KPAHoward October 19, 2012 at 09:53 PM
I just received an email for our church. A link led me to an expensive award. Scam alert went off in my head as well. Thanks for posting
carlos rofrigues November 15, 2012 at 02:13 PM
now have a new domain name awardprogram2012-b.org " Beware"
Heather Turner November 15, 2012 at 03:44 PM
@Carlos, thank you for the update, will add that to my watch list
Judie B November 15, 2012 at 08:41 PM
We figured there was a scam cost involved but just wanted to use the photo in any local advertising... but just to be sure that we wouldn't look stupid advertising with a fake local award we googled the company and voila! Here we are! LOL The things people will do to make a buck these days! Gotta love it! I seriously wonder WHO sat down and devised this evil genius plan and even worse WHICH desperate FOOLS have actually PAID for this award!!! LOL
Denise November 15, 2012 at 11:59 PM
Judie, my husband actually fell for this. He is certainly not a desperate fool and I think that calling people who actually feel proud of themselves for the hard work they do and think that someone recognized that desperate fools in just nasty. When he told me about it, I was immediately suspicious. I have been working in offices and dealing with scams and internet spam for over twenty years. My husband, however, has not. I appreciate Heather's work to help inform the public on this and I am certain her intent was not to make people feel ashamed of themselves for falling victim to scammers.
Heather Turner November 16, 2012 at 12:06 PM
Denise, thank you, my intent was definitely not to make people ashamed of themselves but get the word out, this is a complicated scam that's been going on for years and in their old guise many many thousands of very intelligent and business savvy people have gotten sucked into it. The scammers use the opposite of FUD (Fear, Uncertainty, Doubt) and instead are preying to the inner self that knows they are praiseworthy, which all of them are anyway! I have had several clients in the past that got sucked into the scam when it was using the old awards format through the US Commerce Association and the first time I received a notification about getting one years ago I was overjoyed as well, but then thankfully took the time to look it up and came across a bunch of websites reporting the old scam or perhaps I would have fallen for it myself. I am appreciative of the people that took the time in the past to alert others about it. Just because someone went and got suckered into buying the award has nothing to do with their intelligence, more perhaps their naivete.because it is indeed a very believable scam.
Ron Oliver Clarin November 17, 2012 at 05:54 AM
I received this email twice and I thought that it was real. Thanks for the tips.
Richard Gastellum January 16, 2013 at 05:07 AM
I just received one of these today in Albuquerque, NM. The email address is Award Committee<info@awardprogram.org. I smelled a rat immediately. I inquired further about the reward and here is the response I got from Kelly: The Best of Albuquerque Award Program is not affiliated with any other local business recognition program. The Best of Albuquerque Award Program was created to honor and generate public recognition of the achievements and positive contributions of businesses and organizations in and around Albuquerque. Our mission is to raise the profile of exemplary companies and entrepreneurs among the press, the business community, and the general public. The selection process does not include nominations, voting, contests or surveys. The Award Program uses only empirical data supplied by independent third-parties as input into our award algorithm. Selection as a 2012 Award Winner is determined by the marketing success of your organization in your local community and business category. The Best of Albuquerque Award Program uses information gathered internally in conjunction with third-party data as a part of its selection process. Unfortunately I cannot go into the specifics of the data we use in our selection process. We have non-disclosure agreements with the companies that provide us the data. I'm sorry; I wish I could give you more details. Always trust your gut instincts!
Amanda @ Robin's Nest: Quilts & More January 17, 2013 at 02:28 PM
I was checking our shops email and came across "Kelly's letter" it came from info@awardprogram-2012-2.com I think I'm going to cut and paste the photo and hang it up in our shop as winner of the "scam" award! I think our customers will get a kick out of it. Thanks for your scam alert! Amanda @ Robin's Nest: Quilts & More
Buko May 23, 2013 at 02:35 PM
If you really want to buy yourself an award to put on your shelf go here http://www.crownawards.com/StoreFront/GLOCT7.ALL.Crystal_Awards.Magnitude_Crystal_Awards.prod you can buy the same thing for $45 acrylic awards are even cheaper.
Kenny Blevins September 06, 2013 at 10:18 PM
We received a similar email this week. It lists the company as "Board of Review" - has a phone number 888-731-3985. When you call there is never a live person. This place claims our business won an award for best small business in our home town for 2013. The plaque award is $79 and the crystal award is $179 - almost certainly a scam
Jen Swanson November 13, 2013 at 02:54 PM
Just received this at my animal shelter. Flashing lights went off for a number of reasons, for example it was emailed to one of my kennel techs, not management. I am the ED and I immediately smelled a scam!
Imsc Pam December 10, 2013 at 08:11 PM
Just received this listed as The Best of Mesa Awards. The details are listed below. Be careful out there everyone! Get Started Now - Claim Your Award Frequently Asked Questions What is the Mesa Award Program? Each year, in and around the Mesa area, the Mesa Award Program chooses only the best local businesses. We focus on companies that have demonstrated their ability to use various marketing methods to grow their business in spite of difficult economic times. The companies chosen exemplify the best of small business; often leading through customer service and community involvement. For most companies, this recognition is a result of your dedication and efforts as well as the work of others in your organization that have helped build your business. Your team is now a part of an exclusive group of small businesses that have achieved this selection. There is an error in my company information - how can I fix this? Changes to your company's name, city, or category can be submitted to us via our Company Information Change page. Do I have to pay for an award to be a winner? No, you do not have to pay for an award to be a winner. Award winners are not chosen based on purchases, however it is your option, to have us send you one of the 2013 Awards that have been designed for display at your place of business. Shouldn't my award be free? No, most business organizations charge their members annual dues and with that money sponsor an annual award program. The Best of Mesa Award Program does not charge membership dues and as an award recipient, there is no membership requirement. We simply ask each award recipient to pay for the cost of their awards. Where can I find my Award Code? Your Award Code is: DCQQ-PBB9-4DBB. This Award Code has been provided for you that may be used for direct access to your award options and press release posted on our website. Please reference this Award Code with any correspondence or calls to us. Am I the only winner in my business category? Yes, only one winner is selected per category for each town. Where can I see the list of this year’s winners? Notification to other award winners in Mesa will be made over the next several weeks. After all award recipients have been notified, we will post the complete list of winners on our website. Can the award be for a larger area than my town? All 2013 Awards are issued based on the location of your corporate headquarters even though your service area may extend beyond that town. How do I view the press release? Your press release is available here: Independent Mystery Shoppers' Coalition Receives 2013 Best of Mesa Award. You may use, reproduce, distribute, and display the press release in any media formats and through any media channels you choose. How can I contact you? We offer various ways to get in touch. The most efficient is via our contact us page. Emails sent to us via this page are prioritized first by our customer service staff. Alternatively you can call us at 888-729-2317. Select option 1 and reference your award code: DCQQ-PBB9-4DBB.
Jerry January 29, 2014 at 04:37 PM
here's below copy that i got it for your ref. Press Release FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE Www.XYXY.Com Receives 2013 Best of San Jose Award San Jose Award Program Honors the Achievement SAN JOSE December 12, 2013 -- Www.XYXYXY.Com has been selected for the 2013 Best of San Jose Award in the Data Communications Systems Cabling category by the San Jose Award Program. Each year, the San Jose Award Program identifies companies that we believe have achieved exceptional marketing success in their local community and business category. These are local companies that enhance the positive image of small business through service to their customers and our community. These exceptional companies help make the San Jose area a great place to live, work and play. Various sources of information were gathered and analyzed to choose the winners in each category. The 2013 San Jose Award Program focuses on quality, not quantity. Winners are determined based on the information gathered both internally by the San Jose Award Program and data provided by third parties. About San Jose Award Program The San Jose Award Program is an annual awards program honoring the achievements and accomplishments of local businesses throughout the San Jose area. Recognition is given to those companies that have shown the ability to use their best practices and implemented programs to generate competitive advantages and long-term value. The San Jose Award Program was established to recognize the best of local businesses in our community. Our organization works exclusively with local business owners, trade groups, professional associations and other business advertising and marketing groups. Our mission is to recognize the small business community's contributions to the U.S. economy. SOURCE: San Jose Award Program CONTACT: San Jose Award Program Email: PublicRelations@claimaward.com URL: http://www.claimaward.com
Tage Williams April 08, 2014 at 05:25 PM
People need to be more and more aware of what is in their email inbox. I usually don't open emails if I don't recognize the sender. I haven't had any issues yet by doing this. http://www.trophyawards.com/acrylic/acrylic.htm

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