Beware of Who’s Who Scams

Some of the most popular posts on my old blog site relates to Who’s Who scams, and since I continue to get e-mails very similar to the ones I talked about there, I thought it might be worth mentioning this topic again.

Here is the text of one e-mail that I received very recently:

Dear Academic Professional,

You have been elected to represent your area of expertise in our upcoming registry. This notable accolade can improve your marketability and exposure.

The 2011/2012 edition of the “Who’s Who In Academia” registry will include biographies of America’s top academic professionals. Recognition of this kind is shared each year by members all over the world. It is often considered the single highest mark of achievement.

Upon confirmation of your inclusion, you will be listed alongside other professionals in The Who’s Who Registry. There is no cost to participate.

If you are interested in being reviewed, click here. Take thirty seconds to fill out your basic information.

If you have any questions call our staff at 877-936-4577.

Sincerely,

Diane Franklin Esq.

Senior Managing Director

245 Park Avenue

New York, NY 10167

Who’s Who In Academia.

Copyright 2011. All Rights Reserved.

If nothing jumped out at you in the above, then you need to learn more about how to identify a potential scam.

First, if what is being referred to really involved a selection process and your identification as worthy from among a larger pool of people, you would expect the e-mail to address you by name. A generic form of address indicates that this is a mass mailing, and the link offering you the opportunity to unsubscribe confirms this. So too does their suggestion at the end that you forward the e-mail to others who might be interested.

When you get multiple e-mails over a long period of time all of which indicate that this is your final notice, that should clinch it for you.

An e-mail from a Who’s Who organization is not an honor for which one is selected, but either an attempt to get people to pay for some sort of package, or an attempt to get personal information. It is sad to see that some academics and professionals actually proudly list their having fallen for scams like these on their web sites and profiles.

On the organization’s own web site there is something that should warn anyone and everyone about the fact that most Who’s Who organizations are scams. Here’s what they say at one point:

“The Sutton Who’s Who Registry is proudly not affiliated with any other Who’s Who organization(s).”

What sort of organizations must these be, for one of them to say that they are proud not to be affiliated with any of the others?

I will not say that all “Who’s Who” organizations are scams. But many of them are, and so be extremely cautious.

If you have received such e-mails, feel free to share your story in the comments section below.

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  • Paul D.

    There are other red flags as well. Missing punctuation, sloppy writing and an unwarranted copyright notice stand out. I would expect professional standards to apply to communication from genuine book publishers.

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  • William Cornwell

    I’ve only responded to one of these “Who’s Who” solicitations, and that was from Marquis, which is a respectable organization. All the other e-mails I’ve gotten have been scams that I ignored. One way to tell whether an offer is legitimate is to check whether libraries carry their volumes.

  • PM

    I was fool enough to “take thirty seconds” and fill out the “preliminary information.” A day or so later I received a follow-up phone call. The interviewer was abrasive, pushy, rude to the point of being insulting. So this is one scam apparently run by people who still have a lot to learn about how to run a successful con game.

  • Klebteacher

    and the unsubscribe option for this particular organization does not work. 

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  • Dontbedumb

    STOP PAYING FOR VANITY STOP BEING STUPID

  • Ecologist Scammed

    I was contacted by a
    company called Who’s Who Publishers. Using connections from my linked in
    account they contacted me and proceeded to tell me their offer was very
    important for my career and stated both my company and line managers name. Upon
    further discussion with the representative, I believed what they offered was
    valuable to my career and required by my company. He asked for $800 but I told
    him it was too much, he then proceeded to quite easily drop the price lower and
    lower, however still offering the same thing (which I found strange). With much
    trepidation I provided my credit card details for $200 and then I began
    questioning the company’s credibility and ask him to not process the order
    until I speak to my colleagues. He was very persistent and said the ‘it is a
    one time offer and book is on a deadline to be published’, once I questioned
    him again he said ‘thank you for joining World Wide Who’s Who’ and hung up.

    Instantly I contacted the Commonwealth Bank and advised them of the situation.
    Not surprisingly the amount had already been charged to my credit card. I have
    since spoken to my colleagues and line manager and no one has ever heard of
    Who’s Who Publishers and it is in no way important for my career. I also
    reviewed the company on the Internet and have noted numerous complaints
    regarding the ‘Who’s Who Scam’.

    I am now ina battle between the Commonwealth Bank and Who’s Who to get my money
    back. Plesae be aware this is going on to protect other Linked In Customers.

    I was contacted by a
    company called Who’s Who Publishers. Using connections from my linked in
    account they contacted me and proceeded to tell me their offer was very
    important for my career and stated both my company and line managers name. Upon
    further discussion with the representative, I believed what they offered was
    valuable to my career and required by my company. He asked for $800 but I told
    him it was too much, he then proceeded to quite easily drop the price lower and
    lower, however still offering the same thing (which I found strange). With much
    trepidation I provided my credit card details for $200 and then I began
    questioning the company’s credibility and ask him to not process the order
    until I speak to my colleagues. He was very persistent and said the ‘it is a
    one time offer and book is on a deadline to be published’, once I questioned
    him again he said ‘thank you for joining World Wide Who’s Who’ and hung up.

    Instantly I contacted the Commonwealth Bank and advised them of the situation.
    Not surprisingly the amount had already been charged to my credit card. I have
    since spoken to my colleagues and line manager and no one has ever heard of
    Who’s Who Publishers and it is in no way important for my career. I also
    reviewed the company on the Internet and have noted numerous complaints
    regarding the ‘Who’s Who Scam’.

    I am now ina battle between the Commonwealth Bank and Who’s Who to get my money
    back. Plesae spread the message to protet other targets.

    • TZ

      Did you have success to get the money back from Who’s Who Publisher???
      They charge me a huge amount of money more then 5000.00$ from my credit card and I do not know how I can get it back. Any experience will be helpful!

      • Suckered

        They caught me in a hard time in my life, the interviewer was very good and asked appropriate questions and they said its 800.00 I reluctantly said ok. In my mind I was like hey I am getting 2 free round trip tickets and many on line conferences and contacts. I am calling to not let them take any more charges on my credit card. This is the first time I have fallen for this

      • bamboozledinmars

        I also was duped…get your bank involved a report it as an unauthorized debit you did not agree to.The bank will credit your account and attempt to collect from the bogus company.
        Unfortunately your account will be closed and you will need to open a new one.
        I sure learned to never fall for this idiocy again..
        Also…file a police report so hopefully others won’t go through this.

  • CreateYourOwnJob

    Marquis is no different. They got bought out, but it is not the same as the original Marquis. Read an original Who’s Who introduction from Marquis in the early 20th century (it’s on Google Books). They make their money on the products themselves– the books, plaques, et cetera– and are upfront about it. They’re all doing the same thing.

  • Mary K

    Actually have received numerous emails from them. Claiming to be the Australian Who’s Who. Immediately thought SCAM! Checked to justify what I was thinking. Hitting the delete icon and listing them as junk mail!

  • Anon

    I sent my info just to see what would happen (never again). They called me at a really bad time for me for an “interview”. I declined saying I was busy. Since then they have sent me several emails and called my cell several times asking for an interview. I finally accept an interview and went through their “process”. Several times I politely declined but they kept insisting after each one. I said, “Yes, I just graduated college but I don’t think this is the right time for me.” They bit back saying “Actually I think this is the perfect time for you.” I mean really? What professional talks back to their client like that? They continued trying to convince me by listing the benefits and they were going to list ALL of this personal information about my career in all of these listings, etc. Yes, its “beneficial” but I really don’t want all that information published if I don’t have control over it. After saying I’m not interested three times I finally had to say “I apologize for taking time out of your day but I’m really not interested in this right now.”

  • http://www.facebook.com/william.woolridge.10 William Woolridge

    I received an email on my work email, and was curious, so I filled out the information and sent it in to see what would happen next. I was then contacted for a phone interview, in which they stated it looks as though I am an established Representative in my field, and would be a great fit for their publication. He explained what all I would benefit from this, and then mentioned the gold and platinum plans, (platinum plan was $889 and $199 deferred payment for lifetime membership and 2 free air fare vouchers, and gold was $689 and $199 deferred payment) when I said I need to think about it to weigh my options, and he responded with “I would love to give you all the time in the world, but unfortunately we have publishing deadlines, and we need to get this started right away” I saw the previous red flags, but this one really stood out. When I said I wasn’t around any of my CC information he still tried to pus it dropping down to a 3yr $399 plan with no deferred payment. I advised I need to get my info at a later time, and he is going to call me back. I am going to just so happen to no be near my phone at the time, but something tells me they are now going to continue to try and call me everyday until they get a hold of me.

  • Bev

    I received a call from Jane Hutton from http://www.worldwidewhoswho.com 519-833-8440 ext 1420; after reading this post I’m Leary.

    • Katie Fenton

      I just got off the phone with her!!! Total scam, she was relentless. Heck no. She did the same thing of lowering the price for the same items in an another package. She said I had to get her payment today so she could submit my bio. She argued with me about not having a credit card on me? I was knew then it was a scam. All this from Linked In. What a crock.

  • http://www.facebook.com/seth.macy Seth Macy

    Just received one today in my work email. The email says I received honorable mention in “…yesterday’s article titled ‘Who’s Who in Academia,’ by Joseph Bozanek,” and to click on a link to see the article. Although I’m intrigued about winning an award that I never entered a competition for, and am not even a professor but just a staff person at a university, I’ll be declining the honor. I’m not even going to follow the link to see what it actually leads to. Any organization who’s going to give a supposed academic award to someone who’s never given a lecture or an academic presentation, never attended an educational conference, never taught students in any way, should not be in business, even if there are benefits of joining. Glad this web page exists, thank you James McGrath and others who have commented here.

  • Karen Rapport

    Tonight was my night….I thought to get our business website seen by many I should sign up. Interesting we started at a $900 package and ended up with $99 just to use the Who’s who name in my own publicity. And I know the drill and still went along…let me know if you ever see our website avertised by Who’s who…..I doubt it,
    http://www.feelthehugs.com I wonder if the interviewer will buy something?? LOL LOL

  • CD

    Not knowing about the scam I paid and within 1 hour of checking on the net after the phone call I cancelled the transaction with the bank on basis of it being a scam. Who’s who sent an acceptance email. The email says logging into your profile constitutes acceptance. So I didn’t login. They sent a falsified transaction of a login attempt to the bank. The transaction was therefore created on opening of the email. I wondered why when 2 days after the transaction a salesperson at who’s who was attempting to get me to login even after I told her I cancelled it because it was a scam. Beware !!!

    • AT

      Thanks for the heads up! I’m in your shoes now. Feeling TOTALLY stupid for falling for that. I canceled my card and filed a dispute with the bank within an hour of the transaction. Hoping because it is “pending” that it will fall off. I was also advised by my bank to filed a consumer complaint with my state’s Attorney General office, so I am doing that as well. I called Jackie Adkins (the Who’s Who rep who conducted my “interview”) back but she was conveniently not by her phone….

  • TM

    Got one today. Did some searching, found several people who have actually listed this dubious honor in their official CV. Sadly enough, these people are in academia, both private and public institutions.

  • Dylan Dakota Smith

    THis is still an active scammer. I got this today (which is a nice touch since it is appreciate civil servant week):
    ————————————————————————–

    Lisa Davis, Editor 4:00 PM (24 minutes ago)

    to me

    Good morning!

    We wanted you to know that you received Honorable Mention in yesterday’s article titled “Who’s Who in Public Service” by Stephen Bozanek, recognizing individuals who have contributed to improving society through their work in public sector jobs.

    The article will remain available at www. newsdigest. co for the next few hours and is available for on-demand download and printing.

    We wish you the best of continued success.

    Sincerely,

    Lisa Davis
    News Digest International
    http://www. newsdigest. co

    • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=100003967878737 Andres Tovar

      I got the exact same email a few hours ago. Definitively scam.

  • http://twitter.com/jan_deelstra Jan Deelstra, Author

    Found this in my SPAM file today (where it belongs):
    “Good morning!

    We wanted you to know that you received Honorable Mention in yesterday’s article titled “Who’s Who Among Authors and Publishers” by Stephen Bozanek.

    The article will remain available at http://www.newsdigest.co for the next few hours and is available for on-demand download and printing.

    We wish you the best of continued success.

    Sincerely,

    Lisa Davis
    News Digest International
    http://www.newsdigest.co
    SERIOUSLY, there needs to be a way to not only shut these folks down, but to also sue them into inancial ruin for the rest of their miserable lives.
    (And no, I ddn’t bite the worm.)

    • http://www.facebook.com/cresantia.vakauta Cresantia Koya Vaka’uta

      I got this this morning too!! Googled and couldn’t locate “Who’s Who Among Authors and Publishers” by Stephen Bozanek. The site newsdigest.co gives it away. I had no idea these spammers existed. Must tell my faculty mates.

      • Prospecial

        We have received a similar notice regarding our publication

        “How to Make Big Money Grooming Small Dogs” ISBN 0964021501 by author Robert S. Whitman

        However we have never contacted this company BEFORE nor would
        we reply to them AFTER receiving the spam notice, for this dubious honor. .
        Apparently they surf legitimate advertising for the opportunity to make their scam contacts.

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Donna-Van-Wie/544952856 Donna Van Wie

    i actually got phone call from Who’s who today. I brushed them off very quickly and asked that I transfer their questions to my manager, in which they said no, and after trying to get information out of me…hung up. Beware!!! And they contacted me through my work number. hmmmm

  • Christopher Pflaum

    Marquis is not a scam. I have been in Who’s Who in the United States for about twenty years. All that they ask is that I periodically update my information. Sure, they offer to sell me books, plaques, etc. but I have always declined. I have no idea of what use this publication is but it is found in most libraries. I do not list Who’s Who on my c.v.

  • Barbara

    Thank you everyone for listing your experiences! I have just had the yelephone ” interview” and was offered the platinium and gold memberships. When i said i needed to think about it and check their web site the person on the phone kept lowering the price while insisting the whole time it was a bargin and the best professional decision i will ever make. I did not give her my credit card she insisted on having but now i am worried they willnuse the information i gave them that includes my work history and my home address for identity thief!! Has anyone had that experience ? Or of having the information sold to third parties?

    How could i protect myself from having the information used for criminal purposes? Any thoughts or comments will be greatlu appreciated! Also i feel deeply disappointed by Linkedin for allowing such scammers to advertise on their site. I responded to the invitation thinking it must be legitimate because of where it was posted!! Obviously i am naive but still.. I am considering contacting Linkedin to complain and perhaps cancel my membership..

    Again thank you for sharing – this information is a lifesaver. Only wish it could get to people BEFORE they are contacted and cheated out of the ir money!

  • Sterling

    I had the exact same experience. They offered in their words a fantastic deal on a Platinum Membership for $800.00 or a Gold Membership for 600.00. Because I hesitated over and over again – it is amazing how the price kept dropping….eventually down to $99.00. But I had to do it right away. No thanks.

    • Edson Magalhães

      Just got the same call……the “price ” dropped from 975 do 189 in 2 minutes…..I asked a couple of days to think about it and the interviewer started to push me to a decision….I DECLINED !! Thank God !!

  • Darlene L Pevach

    Ok, Similar experience for me as a member of LinkedIn. Action plan: I have contacted LinkedIn for a possible investigation, and included this page as I believe all the concerns here are very valid. From a Joann Matheos, (516) 833 8440…. I do hope this is not the case, but there is enough evidence here to bring it to the attention of the server- for professional scamming and fraud prevention…

  • Drew

    Whatever you do – do not sign up with these scammers. Once they have your info – it is impossible to get rid of them.

  • kclantern1984

    I suppose I got lucky with a special red flag. I got an e-mail saying I had been chosen to represent professionals in my field. Kind of funny, since I am disabled and can’t work.

  • Mark G.

    In the last 10 days I have received 77 emails from 7 slightly different email IDs and 7 different Subject lines. 59 of them came since yesterday, after I started trying to use the “unsubscribe” option on a few of them. They all signed by “Robert McGwire
    Nomination Committee Secretary, International Professional Network. The most humorous thing to me is that I started getting them on August 11, 2013, but they all say “Our deadline for this selection period is July 31st, 2013.” Oh, gee. It seems I am too late. Darn. Other than trying to unsubscribe, I have not responded to any of these email. When I do the unsubscribe thing, it tells me that I may get more emails for up to 7 – 10 business days since some emails are already too far along the process to suspend. That’s BS! It seems more like they take my action to ‘unsubscribe’ to step up their harassment of email inbox. If I could meet this Robert McGwire in person I would likely rip his heart out. They are just pissing me off!

  • Fetfet

    i subscribed yesterday to “Covington Who is Who” and they sent me confirmation mail with my membership along with a free air ticket voucher for two …. is that a scam too??????????

    • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/exploringourmatrix/ James F. McGrath

      I have encountered a lot of people who have received ticket vouchers, but far fewer who found they were able to use the vouchers in question to actually get tickets. I wish you luck!

  • http://www.friv2friv3friv4.com/ friv 2 friv 3 friv 4

    Whatever you do – do not sign up with these scammers. Once they have your info – it is impossible to get rid of them.

  • Kristin73

    Fet fet that’s why I came on here the lady who interviewed me was quite polite asked all the right questions but it really didn’t feel right to me so I just passed after avoiding her five to ten calls a day. She was quite relentless. And did exactly what everyone else described….offered different levels of packages still with the airfare. I just googled Covington who’s who and this popped up along with other links that take you to better business bureau which I’m about to go read. I’d feel safe to say its a scam.

  • AT

    WAY TO RESOLVE THIS:

    I posted earlier (below) as a comment to someone who had been in the same situation as me. I stupidly fell for the scam, even thought I had a feeling something wasn’t right with it. After getting off the phone (and providing my debit card info), my google search led me here and also to many other sites all with scam complaints. I immediately called my bank, canceled my debit card, and filed a claim. Because you provide your debit/credit card info, it cannot be treated as fraud, but you can dispute it the transaction. I was advised to start putting together documents to send to my state’s Attorney General and to also file a claim with the Better Business Bureau. I then called my WWW rep and left a very unhappy message demanding a refund. She called me back and left a message that she was sorry to hear that and my sources were wrong and blah blah blah, that she would forward my voicemail to customer service and they would call me. Do NOT wait for them to call you, you need to call THEM. I laid it down for the customer service rep. She said she wanted me to have the experience and wanted me to do a year subscription (which would cost me $199) but that she would refund the rest BECAUSE I CALLED THE SAME DAY and she “respected that” (huh??). Who knows how long it would have taken their customer service to call ME, but I’m guessing it wouldn’t have been within the business day which I believe is KEY to getting your refund. I told her I absolutely did not want the year subscription, I wanted my $689 back. She complied and send me an Adobe e-sign. Before signing, I called my bank’s claim department (highly recommend Chase Bank, they were awesome in helping me). The document WWW had sent me said the money would go back to the debit card. Well, I had canceled the debit card and wanted to make sure that it would go to my checking account. The Chase Bank rep told me that the money would go through that number and would still link back to my account so that it was ok to sign, but to make sure I got a transaction number and also what their posting/refund policy was. I signed it, sent it back to them, and had the transaction receipt and money (all $689) back in my account within 20 minutes.

    The key to this is:
    1. Cancel your card right away
    2. Take care of it within the business day. I think a huge reason why I was able to get my money back was because it was the day of, so the transaction was still pending and hadn’t been completed. They were able to just cancel their collection on the funds, which I would imagine is a lot easier than returning money.
    3. Contact Customer Service yourself (516-833-8440, then press 5). Don’t wait for them to call you because chances are that they won’t or that, when they do, it’ll be too late. I also called the original rep and played some voicemail phone tag with her, so that her side of it would be recorded in my voicemail just in case I needed to use that to help my case.
    4. Dig your heels in, file a claim, contact the Attorney General and Better Business Bureau. WWW doesn’t want to deal with anyone who is seriously out to get them, they’re looking for people who will just sit back and feel stupid for falling for it and just thinking their money is gone forever.
    5. I never got a “welcome” e-mail, but if you do DON’T CLICK ANYTHING. Then you’re digging your own financial grave by agreeing to their terms.
    6. Follow these steps so that you don’t waste your entire day where you are supposedly a “leader in your field” dealing with their crap. Now I’m a whole day behind ;)

    I hope this is helpful!

  • SV

    Just got a call too. Dropped from $800 to $500 to $99. When I said “I don’t own a card (because I just relocated), please give me your email and I will contact you when I’m settled”, her tone changed and said “what’s that going to do? we don’t go back and forth and the deadline is coming up.” That was a close one!!

  • liz

    I just go one of those who’s who email and it said that Stephen Bozanek wrote about us in who’s who in the local community and that the link was available only for a few hours. Looks like they don’t like that your calling them out Stephen ;)

  • Herodes

    I got this mail. Only flaw is I shouldn’t have got this in the first place. Flattered? Not really!
    _____________________________________________________________

    Global Who’s Who

    The Premier Networking Organization for Professionals

    Dear *********

    You were recently chosen as a potential candidate to represent your professional community in the 2013 Edition of Global Who’s Who. The premier networking organization for distinguished professionals.

    We are pleased to notify you that your candidacy was formally approved January 26th, 2014. Congratulations!

    The
    Publishing Committee recognized you as a potential candidate based not
    only upon your current standing, but focusing as well on criteria from
    executive and professional directories, associations, and trade
    journals. Given your background, the Director believes your profile
    makes a fitting addition to our publication and our online network.

    There
    is no fee nor obligation to be listed. As we are working off of
    secondary sources, we must receive verification from you that your
    profile is accurate. After receiving verification, we will validate your
    online listing within 7 business days.

    To verify your profile and accept the candidacy, please click here.

    Our registration deadline for this year’s candidates is March 20th, 2014.
    To ensure you are included, we must receive your verification on or
    before this date. On behalf of our Committee I salute your achievement
    and welcome you to our association.

    Warm Regards,

    Editor in Chief

    Global Who’s Who

    • EML

      I just got this same E-Mail.

      A quick google search led me here and I purged the EMail.

  • DSomers

    Here’s most of the text from the email I received from “Business Who’s Who”:
    “You were recently chosen as a potential candidate to represent your professional community in the 2013/2014 [begin underline] Business Who’s Who Registry [end underline] among Executives, Professionals & Entrepreneurs.

    We are pleased to inform you that your candidacy was approved. Your prompt response is needed to ensure your correct professional information. For accuracy purposes, please be sure to visit your personal website to verify your biographical information.

    Remember, there is no cost to be included.”

    They’re getting a little better. Only two obvious no-no’s for a professional letter: no comma after Professionals and never use “&” instead of “and” unless it’s actually part of the name. Another scam.

  • Author

    I spoke to someone today who called from an area less than an hour’s drive from me. Was very polite, encouraging and wanted an immediate $988. I KNEW I couldn’t afford the life time member of the registry. She recommended the $788 (589 + 199). The cost did decrease with the services staying the same. While on the phone, I checked for scams and complaints. Too many for me to be comfortable, so I said to call me back in two day. She politely refused, gave me HER number. To be honest, I WILL check as many sites for both good and bad and let the most of one area decide for me. Got a feeling I won’t be making that call!!

  • dutchess

    I received an email supposedly from this club. And today I get a call from them. Sounded legit untit they ask for my credit info. I said it was BS & I reported them to the FBI. It sad how the try to scam people.

  • http://www.weselycmeteryar.com Ginny Alderson

    This organization got a $150.00 of my money & never heard a word until I turned them into SPAM w/their e-mails.

  • Eloise

    The ‘unsubscribe’ option is just confirming that your email is a valid, working email address so they can spam you some more.


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