This evening I got an email from one of my innkeepers. 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:
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.
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 with the exact same text 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 award. Some might not call it a scam, but getting people to pay for awards in the first place is just plain wrong. And second, aside from the websites touting the award itself, after extensive digging I can’t find a single organization or legitimate venue that touts the award as being an actual “award” aside from being made up by this company.
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. 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 had gotten suckered into ordering plaques.
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 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.