All you need to do to claim your prestigious award is send a check or money order for $358, and you will receive a beautiful commemorative crystal trophy for your desk or mantel. You will also be included in a major press release campaign to announce this momentous event to the whole world.
Of course, no one has ever heard of the organization or the award that you have been selected for, but pay no mind to that silly little detail! No one cares about the actual award you received anyway, right?
This straightforward business model (or "scam") assumes that some percentage of businesspeople are essentially insecure or gullible enough to put anything on their shelf or mantel that smacks of someone else recognizing their value, and will part with a nominal sum to accept such an award. And generally, the business model bears enough fruit over time to perpetuate itself.
Consequently, countless "Who's Who" scams have cropped up over the decades, leading Forbes to create the "Hall of Lame" dedicated to publicizing such silly contrivances.
I would like to nominate the United States Institute for Excellence in Commerce ("USIEC") for giving out such a meaningless award, recognizing its worthless contribution to an online world already filled with scams.
The USIEC claims to be a "leading authority on researching, evaluating and recognizing companies across a wide spectrum of industries" that meet its "stringent standards of excellence."
Of course, its website is largely a template and contains little substance when examined. The USIEC does not list a single human being actually on its "team," and its website includes mostly generic, stock photographs of impressive-looking office buildings and friendly business-people.
The USIEC purports to be a philanthropic enterprise, having offered loans through Kiva.com to fishermen in Nicaragua, farmers in Kenya, grocery stalls in Lebanon and dairy farmers in Uganda. In reality, Kiva.com allows anyone to donate as little as $25.00 to humanitarian aid.
Further, the USIEC has self-published a couple of research "white papers" that are virtually unreadable gibberish, but called it a "library" for its members.
In exchange, for $358, you can receive a framed certificate and trophy from the USIEC to show the world that you are a proud contributor to its noble cause.
In reality, the USIEC was outed numerous times by other bloggers who noted that it used to call itself the "Small Business Institute for Excellence in Commerce," and others who decry it as a "meaningless award scam."
Others have pointed out that their domain name is virtually brand new, for an "Institute" that claims have been around for awhile.
And if you think that the USIEC couldn't possibly have duped anyone by its approach, it is worth noting that its website receives heavy traffic. Further, here is a list of just a few press releases announcing those who evidently "accepted" the award, presumably by paying the USIEC for the trophy and to publicize the honor:
In reality, being offered an award by the USIEC is not a legitimate recognition of one's diligence and enterprise, as one PR blogger put it, it's "a sign of gullibility."
Perhaps saddest of all, even some Intellectual Property attorneys have been duped by the USIEC scam.