Mom Blog

The Vanity “Best Of” Business Awards Scam

I always laugh when I see one of these specific “best of” awards at businesses, because I know the secret- it’s really just a vanity award scam where you have to pay $$ to get the award. How do I know it’s not really based on merit? Because my business closed six years ago, and I have won yet another award this year! I have also won awards in previous years, because I guess they didn’t get my update about the business closing.

Congrats! You’ve Won a Fake Business Award!

The e-mail comes out of nowhere, with an award you didn’t apply for. It’s the“2021 Best of (your city) Award” selected by the “(your city) Awards Program.” Each one has its own website, though the generic awards site is http://town-awardinformation-2021.org. Mine comes straight from the “Jacksonville Awards Program.”

It promises that only you have won in your special category, and that they will publish the list of winners right after they notify everyone. Funny how when you click on the “winners” tab, it’s always the same with just a general list of some large business that seem to have been duped into actually purchasing an awards plaque. (Or it’s possible they were given one for free to so they could put their name on the website. )

My business that I closed six years ago “won” the award every year I was in business, and I continue to win every couple years after closing. The crystal award and plaque are the same style every year, and I’ve actually seen it displayed at businesses before. I’m sure nobody really questions it, and it makes the business look good. But honestly you could just go make up your own award and probably save some money, and it would have just as much merit as this one. The cheapest option is the plaque at $149.99, or you could go for the fancy crystal award for $199.99. Want to really impress people? Spring for the plaque and crystal for $229.98.

And what does all this money supposedly go to? According to the e-mail, “The revenue generated by the Jacksonville Award Program helps to pay for operational support, marketing and partnership programs for local businesses.” In other words, it pays for them to keep sending this fake award scam out to other businesses.

fake business award scam
I want to thank all the imaginary people who made this happen…

Real Awards Don’t Cost Money

Our local magazines do actually have “best of” awards, and they don’t ask you for money after you win. They are also based on nominations and voting from local people. Of course, the fake business award site has a nominations tab as well, and I’m going to suspect 100% of their nominations are suddenly deemed the “best of” in their city.

So when you see awards at business, you can’t always take them at face value. And an interesting thing I ran across while researching this a bit, is that they do this same scam for layers, attorneys and many other types of businesses! Apparently the fake award scam is pretty rewarding.

Categories: Mom Blog, Mom Life

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2 replies »

  1. Excellent rundown of how this all works. It’s bananas. PR has long had a cringey pay-for-play shadow sliver operating amidst the legitimate practice. It kinda seems as if these schemes just opted to cut all the pretense and say the quiet part out loud.
    Here’s another fascinating case:

    I’m a Journalist. Apparently, I’m Also One of America’s “Top Doctors.”
    https://www.propublica.org/article/top-doctors-award-journalist/amp

    Liked by 1 person

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