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Beware of business award ‘scam’

In a world where Nigerian princes email Brookhavenites seeking help claiming their gold, it shouldn’t be surprising to see another scam making the rounds locally.

But the one affecting businesses this week hits close to home for the newspaper. The scam goes by the name “Brookhaven Award Program” and informs local businesses that they are the best in their respective category.

It sounds a lot like The Daily Leader’s reader-chosen Best of the Best awards. But the awards program is only seeking to get business owners to buy expensive plaques. The Better Business Bureau calls it a “vanity scam.”

For the low price of $150-$229, businesses can get a plaque proclaiming they are the best in town. Any company that asks you to spend money to claim a prize is likely a scam, and this one certainly qualifies.

The BBB recommends 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.