Scam Alert: Best of Business Awards for Local Businesses

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Yet another wave of scammers are taking advantage of local businesses with their “Best of Business”  awards or similar equivalents.  This one didn’t even bother to check the information and note that we are no longer in McMinnville, and haven’t been for a few years.

We will have a sudden influx of client businesses that have received awards for being the “best” in their local market for their industry now that this scam which first appeared in 2013 is now operating in 2015.

While we think all of our clients are the best, some are brand new and have done little yet to earn such “prestigious” awards.  We have also heard stories of businesses with 1 star ratings and an ‘F’ in the BBB who are receiving these awards, not to say that star ratings or BBB scores are necessarily accurate.

Most of the emails from this new wave started going out again about 2 months ago from what we can tell.  In fact, we received our first ever award just today – unless it is real…  Take a look:

Perihelion Web Design has been selected for the 2015 Best of McMinnville Awards for Website Designer.

For details and more information please view our website:  2015 Best of McMinnville Awards – Website Designer

If you are unable to view the link above, please copy and paste the following into your web browser: (Link Removed)

Once you follow their link, you are immediately offered a free digital award, such as a customized Press Release.  The goal is for them to keep pulling you in deeper and sell you on physical awards and trophies, etc.  Once they find a sucker, they take advantage of it.

Here is what they offered us for being the BEST:

Receiving Your Award 2015-09-09 07-08-02

The difficult thing with this scam tactic is the scammers use a variety of domains, so it is tough to track how many scams are occurring at any given time.  If they were simply using one domain, you could find a lot of complaints online, including sites like Rip-off report.  Most of the domains we have seen have been .net, .org, and .us, but we assume the use more.

So, what do you do if you get such an award? PlaqueBlue.png.lg.cc.DEZN-RBC9-57WW

First, look to see if it is from a reputable company or organization that you are familiar with.  Not all awards are fake!

Next, use your instincts. If you have look at the examples above, including the stories in the links, then you should be equipped to recognize potential scams

Once you suspect or recognize the scam, there still might be a dilemma for you.  By receiving such an award stating that you are the best business in your category in your market, you could use this for promotional purposes.  Or you may need some bling for your office desk or wall.   The scammers understand this; in fact they count on it.

Even if you figure out that it is a scam, you still may want to leverage it for the “credibility.”

Is there anything wrong with that?

It really is up to you.  If you choose to go down this path, be careful about providing payment information, such as credit card numbers, for their tangible gifts.  I would not give the scammers anything, personally, and do not recommend you do.

If you want to use the “award” for credibility purposes, you could just reference it.  There is a fine line here.  If you know without a shadow of doubt that it is a bogus company and award, I would not use it.  On the other hand, if you are unsure and don’t have the time to do the research, you could reference it.

Example: Awarded Best ___________ in ___________ in 2015

If you choose to do this, save the email you received as proof that you received this recognition from the sending company.

Final thoughts…  

Unfortunately, a side effect of good marketing and local SEO, is that businesses are listed in lots of online directories, internet yellow pages, and review sites.  It is very easy for scammers to “scrape” these sites and pull your business data.

This means you will get a lot more spam emails, scams, and telemarketing phone calls, and this is expected to increase greatly over the upcoming years.  You need to have a policy in place so that you can filter these distractions appropriately.  Most of our clients simply forward all emails and telemarketers to us, so that our team can review and make recommendations.

If you found this article helpful, please share it with as many people as you can.  Not only will you be helping them, but they will get to see our shiny new blue award!

 


Stephen has a 30+ year career in Information Technology which includes Web Design and Digital Marketing. He's also a Foodie, loves music, Winter and the Oregon Coast. More often than not you'll find him at the keyboard dreaming up new ways to promote and market his clients and the causes he cares about. You can reach Stephen at [email protected]