The Vanity Scam

This is known as the vanity scam as it relies on the ego of the business people targeted.

That target is small business owners – you receive an e-mail with an interesting offer, maybe an award or the prospect of being included in a business directory. All you have to do is hand over a fee to be included or to receive your award.

Often the incentive is a plaque or award certificate for “recognizing that your company name has been selected for the Best of Award.” Best of can be best of type, location, category of business, best new business, best small business etc.

“In recognition of your achievement, a Best of xxxxx Award plaque has been designed for display at your place of business. You may arrange to have your award sent directly by following the simple steps on the form”

Generally, the award will exist and you can get it if you pay. But the whole thing is just a marketing exercise and you’re the one footing the bill for the marketing scammers – the awards are meaningless as no-one voted for them and everyone can win one of the awards. The entire thing is just to get you to pay up.

The charge for the award or plaque is usually in the range of £100 to £250.

The scammers usually call themselves something like The Award Program, Business Recognition, Award Connections, Best of Awards etc.

Whether you consider this type of ‘offer’ to be a scam or just devious marketing is your choice, but either way many businesses are caught out and pay up thinking there is value in the awards but anyone can win so there is no meaningful value.

Legitimate awards should not come with costs to the recipient.

However there are some grey areas in the awards game e.g. you may genuinely win an award and then choose to attend the presentation ceremony/dinner and have to pay a lot of money. That’s your choice but at least if you can get the award without paying then it’s probably legitimate.

If it is coming from a mystery company, chances are they simply want your money. Businesses and organizations that offer legitimate awards will usually be willing to provide detailed information on why a specific company received the award.

Don’t pay without questioning whether an award is meaningful or just a marketing scam.

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