An e-mail scam targeting small businesses across the country has led to at least 23 reports to the Better Business Bureau, and the northwest group is warming people about the ploy.
“The email informs small businesses and nonprofits they are a recipient of a ‘Best of (insert city name) Award,’” according to a statement from the BBB. “But in order to claim their trophy, they have to pay up. Business owners report being asked to pay anywhere from $149 to $229 to claim the honor and receive a personalized plaque. Some of these emails list a Seattle address as the place of business, however BBB investigators believe that is likely false information meant to deceive potential victims.”
The e-mail scan sends people to awardconnections.org, existial.org, cortist.org and encountry.org.
Here are four tips from the BBB about avoiding these types of scams.
- Ask questions. Learn everything you can about who is giving the award. If it is coming from a mystery company, chances are they simply want your money. Businesses and organizations that offer legitimate awards will usually be willing to provide detailed information on why a specific company received the award.
- Know the nomination process. Find out who nominated your business for the award. If you didn’t apply for it or the group cannot tell you how you were nominated, chances are the award is not legitimate.
- Don’t pay. Most legitimate awards do not come with costs to the recipient. If there is a cost, scrutinize it closely. If there is a fee for winning or for receiving a certificate or plaque it could be a scam.
- Do your research. Check the company’s BBB Business Review at bbb.org to ensure the offer is legit. Many of the business owners who reported the scam to BBB did their own investigating and found we’ve reported on this scam in the past.
Anyone who thinks they were victimized as part of this scam is asked to call the BBB at 206-431-2222 or go to bbb.org.