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Winning a Fake Award

Yesterday I received an email announcing that Nancy Marshall Communications had won an award. This is the email I received:


On behalf of the Small Business Institute for Excellence in Commerce, I wanted to let you know that Nancy Marshall Communications has been recognized as a 2013 Maine Excellence Award recipient. Our panel of industry executives and consultants oversees an annual survey commissioned by the SBIEC on various industries and determines which companies meet and exceed the industry benchmarks that have been set forth. Nancy Marshall Communications was one of those selected this year.

Further details on this selection can be viewed on our website including the press release that was produced for this occasion. To review the award and download the accompanying press release please visit and enter the Reference # PPFAC7 on the top right corner of the page. Or you could directly go to the page by clicking the link below.

*Our Media Division will be able to assist with any request for edits in the business name and/or industry specification to be reflected on the physical award as well as adding a personalized company description on the press release. They can be reached at

View your award and press release here.

(This is an award-only notification from the SBIEC but If you wish to not receive any further communication from me please reply to this email with the subject REMOVE.)

Margaret Trudle
SBIEC – Annual Survey Team


Now the first hint that this might be fake was that there was no comma after Nancy in “Dear Nancy.”  This might seem like a small detail to you, but legitimate award organizations pay attention to the little details.

So I Googled the name of the organization:    Small Business Institute for Excellence in Commerce, and came up with a series of posts about the fact that this is an “award for sale.”

I found this post from to be the most helpful:

“The truth: the scammers at the Small Business Commerce Association don’t have a clue about who you are. They don’t care what your business has achieved. Why? Because all they really do is buy old mailing lists and fish for suckers.

If you go to their website and enter your award code, you’ll discover what the scam is all about: claiming your award will cost you between $57 and $150 dollars. For that, you’ll get a badge for your website and a cheap plaque to hang on the wall. Got more money to throw away? They’ll produce a video for you, too — for a price, of course.

The award isn’t a badge of honor … it’s a sign of gullibility. Don’t feed their greed by falling for scams like this one.”

So I am happy to announce that Nancy Marshall Communications has won a fake award, and luckily I was able to rely on the ever-helpful world wide web to learn that it was indeed a fake.



18 Responses to Winning a Fake Award

  • David Green says:

    Wow, I feel fortunate to be in such honored company with you! I also won the Small Business Institute for Excellence in Commerce Fake award – I will treasure it forever! {;>))

    David G.

  • Hi Nancy,

    I received one of this wonderful awards this morning. I did find it a bit strange that a UK company had won the 2013 Maryland Excellence Award! $143 for the crystal trophy was a bit expensive. I think I could get one made up for about $10.
    here’s an award for sbiec

  • thanks for posting – I received same email and figured it was a scam – sure enough, they want to charge you $$.

  • Tricia Dunn says:

    Good morning. Thank you for posting this information. Our organization just received a an email from SBIEC informing us that we are a recipient of this fake award. Do you recommend ignoring the email? Or should we take any action to ensure they don’t issue a news release using our name?

    Appreciate any guidance you can provide!

    Tricia Dunn,
    EducationQuest Foundation

  • LauraK says:

    Thanks for this assessment. My company received the exact email (tailored to Colorado), and I did a google search to find if it’s legit. Turns out it’s not. Thanks for your post.

  • Jonathan Bressman says:

    Thank you. Your post was the first thing that came up when I googled them after getting the same email. You saved me the time and trouble of further research.

  • Chris says:

    Thanks for doing the legwork. I was researching the site to determine credibility!!

  • Kit Peters says:

    The best part is that these guys sent my *church* one of these fake award letters.

  • Chuck Eiwen says:

    Thanks for your comments. As I read our “winning award announcement” I had to fight the thought that we had been recognized for the good service we performed. It sounded real even though deep down I knew that it wasn’t. And then, like you, I entered their code and found all the different “awards” I could buy.

    So I too will happily announce that we also did not win. I will however, always wonder what the “winners” think each day as they glaze down on their award. Secret admirers perhaps?

  • Bret Giles says:

    Wow, we won the exact same award Nancy! Two proud owners of a fake award, although you should be commended for winning yours a good few months before we did.

  • Ken Kantro says:

    Thanks, Nancy. I received one of these “award” notices and was immediately suspicious. Your comments confirmed my doubts. Reminds me of the Who’s Who scam where they try to sell you the book with your name in it…for a price.
    Keep up the good work.

  • Bob Ragsdale says:

    Well, in that case I suppose Fake Congratulations are in order.

  • Thanks for helping to spread the word. I blogged on this topic back in October, and I see that both of our posts appear on the first page of Google search results for the term “Small Business Institute for Excellence award scam”. P.T. Barnum was right!

  • G says:

    They’re now going by US Institute for Excellence in Commerce and just sent my boss an email from Meredith Blanchard USIEC – Annual Survey Team to announce my company won an award. You follow the link to the press release and they are asking for money to obtain a trophy, certificate and press release.

    The letter was signed:

    Meredith Blanchard
    Phone: (202) 629 – 9950
    Fax: (202) 800 – 7733

    P.S. No comma is not necessarily an indication of a fake. Open punctuation is an accepted style for business letters.

  • Crystal says:

    Thanks for posting about this. We also just got the award letter from Meredith Blanchard but I immediately Googled and found this post so don’t have to go any further. Into the trash it goes!

  • Oak Anderson says:

    Excellent, thanks Nancy!

    Your post was ranked above the fake award link in the Google results, so it saved me a lot of time. A hint to me that it was fake, was that we had not submitted any financial information to win a ‘commerce’ award.

    The shame is, they wouldn’t be doing this if there weren’t people still falling for it.

    – Oak

  • Kamran says:

    Many thanks, Nancy! I wonder who actually would fall for this? This info came up on the second page of my Google search. Others need to post as well so it would come up faster. Other than fake, one wonders about the legality of doing something like this. Any attorney’s on this blog?

  • Kamran, I cannot comment about the legality. I am not an attorney. However I would welcome any advice or counsel from an attorney who might be reading this blog. Thanks to everyone for your comments. Obviously this is a huge problem.

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