Sterling Who’s Who

UPDATE: I have received information suggesting that the currently-existing company Sterling Who’s Who is different from the one prosecuted in 1995. I personally have no way of verifying whether any of the same individuals are or are not involved in the company, but my assumption that this was a continuous company was based on the continuity of name and specialty. If I was in error about this, I certainly do apologize. I do not think that this can be constituted defamation of character, since it is natural to assume continuity of some sort when there is a continuity of name and other features.

I have posted a new entry about the status of the situation. The company refunded my money. Please click here to read about it.


I want to warn readers of this blog about a scam (which unfortunately I fell for and will now have to struggle to resolve). An organization that calls itself Sterling Who’s Who contacted me saying I had been nominated for inclusion in their “Who’s Who”. Although it was clear from the start that this was going to be more of a networking than a genuine prestige-related list, I figured someone perhaps had given them my name, and figured it couldn’t hurt.

But it can, and does.

There is now a charge for more than $700 on my credit card – not the fee that was mentioned by their representative on the phone. Perhaps people in the business world can afford to pay that much for inclusion in a glorified phone book, but I certain can’t, but more importantly, I have no interest in doing so.

I should have checked them out more carefully. An organization by this name was prosecuted at least once before for collecting names and selling memberships in what was supposed to be a prestigious institution, but in fact those contacted were simply those whose names were found on readily-available mailing lists. Other people had picked up on the suspicious character of that organization and what it was offering. But it is easy not to find such information when a fairly large number of people list their membership with pride.

One thing is for sure – having a PhD doesn’t mean you won’t get duped. Hopefully others who are contacted will see this and think about it before going any further down the Sterling Who’s Who road.

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  • David Scott Lewis

    James, James, James, …Silly you for falling for this. In fact, my understanding is that the “real” counterpart to Sterling isn’t much better, i.e, there are fees charged (although it did serve me well eons ago; I was able to get the home address for Edward Kennedy, Daniel Graham and William Colby — and got personal responses from each).For professional networking, use either LinkedIn and/or Xing, perhaps combined with Plaxo.And since you write and read a lot, try Twine when it goes live. (I’m part of their private beta and have vowed not to say too much.) Twine will be PERFECT for you.Better luck next time. I hope you use Netcraft or some other anti-phishing software … just to make sure you’re not a victim of another scam (albeit a different type of scam).Blessings,David Scott Lewis

  • James F. McGrath

    I’m usually pretty good at avoiding these things – I would sooner doubt something real than fall for a phishing scam. This one was more elaborate – there was an e-mail followed up by a phone call. The real thing being so similar, and me being up for tenure, I basically went ahead because I thought perhaps someone had done it trying to do something nice for me. I should have known better!!! :)

  • Black Belt Mama

    I got something in the mail from them a few weeks ago! I thought it was hysterical since I’m a part time self-employed worker myself. Are you on Linked In? I thought maybe that was where they got my name from. I hope you can get it taken care of. What a bunch of jerks!

  • Anonymous

    I had three of these companies calling me in the last months: Madison Who’s Who, International Who’s Who Historical Society, and Sterling Who’s Who. I failed to notice the scam at first, but when they called me to become “member of the year” alarms went on, as I have not done anything extraordinary!!! Too bad I read these blogs late, but they helped me with the last call. Be aware, they are very sophisticated, and can easily convince you. If in doubt, remember never to give your credit card details to anyone you don’t know well. Even if they sound professional. Good luck!

  • Nicolas

    Just got a phone call from “Sterling Whos Who” and I refused to give my credit card number on the phone. I ended up on this blog by googling Sterling’s name! I corroborate with the last post stating that they can be very elaborate: email + phone call with something really sounding like a flattering interview.Just another testimony!RegardsNico

  • McAllisterDO

    Well, I’m in the middle of Sterling problems too. I’ve paid $80 for the book–that was last February. No book yet but they charged my credit card for $189 for membership and “free” airline tickets now. My bank says nothing can be done?!

  • Anonymous

    Sterling Who’s Who is a scam. They wanted me to pay approximately $500. To pull you in they intitiate the conversation by trying to make you feel like you are special. They even suggested putting a “recognition for achievement” under Honors and Awards in my CV. Yet when I questioned the validity of their company in that they were pressuring me into buying my membership without me reading their website and material posted to me…the solicitor became rude and hung up on me. Be wary!!! Dr. MikeExperimental Psychologist

  • Anonymous

    My experience was almost identical to that reported by Dr. Mike in the previous comment. The pitch was clearly part of a standard script. I am sure that for approximately $500 I would have received what looked like a “print at home” certificate on $0.02 paper from an office supply store and a listing in a book of fools that were duped by this company.In my personal opinion Sterling Whos Who is operating a scam. Thank you Google for making this information available on the net before I got taken…

  • Anonymous

    New update to an old post… has anyone tried typing "" into their browser? What you get is a search engine. Period. No login or password space, nada…What a scam…!!!Linda

  • Patriciaguinan

    I was a temporarily out-of-work actress in 1995 and answered an ad in the New York Times from Sterling Who’s Who to do telephone sales and offering six weeks of training and good commissions thereafter.   About a week after we started on the phones I became uneasy about the whole set-up and asked one of the bosses some specific questions, was told to shut my mouth, go back to my cubicle and keep making calls.  Unsatisfied with the response, and in quite dramatic fashion,  I announced “I quit” and walked out the door.  I then  I discovered that three days after I left the FBI had raided the office and took the boss I had questioned and a few others away in handcuffs.   Furthermore, because the raid had happened so soon after I left, I was told that everyone there thought I had been the FBI mole.  I wrote a short story called “I Got My Job Through the New York Times”, and later worked it into a one-person theatre performance called “Life Upon the Wicked Stage”, which included my other run-ins with “crime” in the Big City (before and after the Sterling experience) and my crime-solving “abilities”,  (which I atrribute to having read entirely too much “Nancy Drew” as a child).  I performed this at Neighborhood Playhouse in October of last year. 

    I recently contacted the FBI by e-mail regarding some other strange occurrences in my life, but have not heard back from them.