Holiday Scams and Frauds – Part III: Vanity Scams

capital corp merchant banking scam, capital corp merchant banking fraudEveryone likes to be acknowledged that they’re doing a good job, and awards are part and parcel of not only being validated in that but also being able to show it to others as confirmation of one’s expertise or prowess – and more importantly, to stand out from competitors.

Believe it or not, there is a scam out there for just that – our sense of vanity.  Vanity in business will come in the form of awards and ‘seals of approval’ from various business organizations. So the way that this scam comes at you is through such an award where you will receive an email (or a letter in the mail, but mostly this is done through emails) telling you that you have been selected to receive a “Best of [local city name] Award in [business category] for [year].” This is especially popular at this time of the year as the holidays get everyone in the mood to celebrate, not to mention that as it is the end of the year, it may sound more legitimate than if it was presented, say, in March 2013 for the year 2013.

The emails will usually direct you to a website that shows you a personalized press release and will offer you the chance to purchase your ‘customized award’.  And they’ll ask you for a pretty penny to get that award.  Don’t be fooled, this is a scam. It is usually run by a website called awardprogram.org, and the organization is usually the same: the US Commerce Association.  This association actually is rated “F” by the Better Business Bureau (BBB), the lowest possible rating.

While some people know about this scam and just go along to look good, the BBB discourages doing this as it could backfire on them if customers look at these awards with skepticism and cynicism.

How to avoid falling prey to this scam? Learn what you can about who is giving this award; if you don’t know the company, most likely they’re in it to get your money; if you didn’t apply for an award or you have no idea how you were nominated, it’s probably not legitimate; most real awards come at no cost to the recipient, so if they’re asking for money, something’s up; and ask specific questions about how your company was chosen for this award.  You can also check the BBB Business reviews at http://www.bbb.org.

Up next: we’re going more into the vanity award fraud by looking at how it targets executives.

Always make sure that you make an informed decision in all cases,

All the Best,

The Capital Corp Team

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