Small businesses around the country are among the targets of an email scam asking for up to $229 to receive a personalized plaque because of the company’s good works in the community.
The Better Business Bureau describes the scam as the “Vanity Award Scheme” and it’s not new. The emails announce that the company or non-profit organization has won the “Best of” award for their town or industry and direct the recipient to a website to claim the award.
According to the Better Business Bureau, the intent of the scheme is to try to sell a plaque or certificate “for an inflated price.”
BBB investigators have been unable to reach any officials connected with the vanity awards to ask questions about the vanity award scheme.
There are a number of ways to avoid a vanity award scheme, according to the BBB:
- Most legitimate awards do not require the recipient to pay for the award. If a cost is involved, the award should be scrutinized very carefully.
- If you are unfamiliar with the award, and the group cannot explain how you were nominated, the award likely is not legitimate.
- If your company receives an email announcement of an award that leads to a website, don’t enter any personal information unless you are absolutely certain that the award is legitimate.
- Go to bbb.org to check the BBB Business Review of the company giving out the award to determine if the offer is legitimate.
The BBB has received reports of this scam from Florida and the Washington, D.C., area to Idaho and eastern Washington state. Business owners are asked to report a vanity scheme at the BBB’s Scam Tracker page.