Vanity Award Scams

Beware of Vanity Scams: Dishing out phony awards with the hook of purchasing plaques or copies of the award for family, friends, or your own business at a later date. These scams, while the execution and details may vary, have been in existence since the dawn of publishing and are much easier to pull off since the birth of the Internet.

In late 2008 and early 2009 an email started to circulate to many local businesses and agencies notifying them that they were chosen “Best of <fill in state/county here> in your category.

The BBB issues a statement in late 2009 notifying businesses of the scam.

“Recent emails notifying businesses that they have won prestigious awards from a national association appear to be part of a widespread scheme designed to get companies to pay for ‘vanity’ awards and plaques.”

They went on to say, “The group behind the ‘awards’ program is the U. S. Commerce Association of Washington, D. C.” and it shares a website with the U.S. Local Business Association (USLBA), which received an ‘F’ from the BBB.”

While the BBB confirmed that this “scheme,” as they put it, is not an attempt to obtain access to a company’s information or to elicit funds by an entity claiming false identities.

In retrospect, the warning signs were everywhere.
  • The USLBA doesn’t list a phone number anywhere – even on their press releases.
  • Website is privately registered via GoDaddy
  • The “awards” are never actually free. There is always an upsell
Why are we telling you about this now, three years later?

Well, the scam is back only this time it’s avoiding the title: “U.S. Local Business Association”

So if you find that you’ve been awarded of a prestigious ‘Best of’ plaque in your community, take a closer look. Is it lacking specific details? Are they prompting you to purchase anything? If so, you may not be as popular as you thought – and only a victim of a vanity award scam.

Don’t be sad. Pick up a plaque from us and make yourself, or a business you know, feel better – and actually award them with a beautiful, elegant plaque that doesn’t require additional purchases to enjoy.


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