We were quite excited at work today when we got an e-mail from the “U.S. Local Business Administration” informing us that the company “has been selected for the 2008 Best of Fairfax Award in the Local Business category by the U.S. Local Business Association (USLBA).”
Yippee! Finally someone has recognized the extent to which we “enhance the positive image of small business through service to [our] customers and community”!
The message gave us a link to a press release announcing our selection, and to a page where we could order an official plaque (starting price: $80) to hang in the lobby to impress our customers.
Alas, it’s all just a scam, as a cursory Web search or perusal of the organization’s Web site reveals. What does the U.S. Local Business Administration do, exactly? Mostly they give “awards” to every business they can get an e-mail address for, to scam people into buying their stupid plaques. Their “information-packed web site” has a few single-paragraph business tips lifted verbatim from the site of the U.S. Small Business Administration (a legitimate organization that does not sell plaques).
We weren’t fooled, of course, and wondered how anyone else could be. But if you do a search for “U.S. Local Business Administration” you will find, tucked in amongst numerous scam reports, many (more than we would have thought possible, actually) Web sites proudly listing the award. And actual press releases, released by actual companies and posted on actual PR news services, complete with quotes from actual CEOs, proudly announcing the receipt of the award.
For example, this one from Triton Pacific Capital Partners. Investment tip: don’t give any money to the folks at Triton Pacific Capital Partners. No telling what sort of make-believe things they will “invest” it in.
We now wonder how many of these companies actually shelled out money for the plaques, and we wonder whether we aren’t in the wrong line of work entirely. We’ve always said that making money by exploiting the stupid is much easier than writing software.