The City of Atlantic Beach has received a local report of a longstanding nationwide email scam targeting small businesses.
The local email told a business owner that her business has been selected for the “2018 Best of Atlantic Beach Awards.” As with similar emails sent to unsuspecting businesses and nonprofit agencies throughout the country, the “winner” must pay $149 to $229 to claim the honor and receive a personalized plaque.
The ploy is known by Better Business Bureaus as a vanity award scheme. The names attached to the emails include, but are not necessarily limited to, The Best of (name of community) Award, The Award Program, Business Recognition and Award Connections. Websites that the “winners” are directed to include, but are not necessarily limited to, inrecognition.org, awardconnections.org, existial.org, cortist.org and encountry.org.
Better Business Bureaus recommend the following tips to avoid falling for 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.
Companies that have fallen victim to these or other scams are encouraged to report their experience to their local police department and to the Better Business Bureau.
For information about this news release, contact Deputy City Manager Kevin Hogencamp at firstname.lastname@example.org.