This post is a little off the regular track of postings here, but it’s entirely necessary that I cover it.

My parents run a restaurant and I was given the task to create and maintain a website for them since “I’m good with computers.” This also means that I am given the lovely opportunity to handle all incoming customer emails. Well, today an interesting email came in announcing we’ve won the “Best Restaurant” award for our town…

The US Commerce Association (USCA) Scam

The email came from a group called the US Commerce Association and they claimed that our restaurant was top in its category for our town. Along with recognition of our achievement in a press release, they wanted to send us a crystal award with the name of our restaurant etched into it. To be honest, I was extremely excited while reading the email. The award looks really nice and the email was very flattering.

That excitement quickly washed away when I actually took the time to carefully reread the email. Not only did they not have the right city of our restaurant, but they also spelled THE NAME of the restaurant wrong. And then, I clicked through to the website, where they wanted us to pay $179.99 plus an additional $20 in handling costs. It became pretty clear that this whole was just to get me to buy a plaque.

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I didn’t buy it because it’s really no different than some random guy on the street telling random passerbys that…

You’re a Winner!


You’ve won Steve’s Award of Excellence!


You’re in shock, I know, but it’s true! In recognition of your achievement, I’ve created this lovely plaque for you to put on display.

Award of Excellence

This is a very prestigious award that not just anyone can receive. In fact, I rarely give these away. However, one look at you and I knew in my heart that you were a winner and now you can prove it to all of your friends with this lovely plaque!

Best of all, the award is FREE! All you need to do is pay $79 in shipping costs, plus an additional $20 handling fee and that’s it!!!

Act now and claim your award before I select someone else!

And I think I prove my point.

On an entirely serious note, I’ll mail the above award complete with confetti to the first person to send their name and address to Really. I spent a lot of time making that award and I’d hate to just throw it out.

The race is on!

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Join the Discussion

  • Andrea

    I received this “award” for the first time 6 years ago. I too was excited as I read the letter feeling proud of our accomplishment! When I entered my code and saw that I had to pay $99, that was my first inkling that it probably wasn’t legit. Still, I bought the award and it’s on a shelf in our store with a few other “real” ones. I used it in ad’s and on a billboard even…a little bubble saying “voted best of…” I don’t know that it really helped and I did not cite the US commerce assoc. as the source! The funny thing is that I get the award every year! No, I only purchased the $99 plaque the first time but maybe because I was a sucker they keep on trying. I have received 4 letters this year that no one in my area has ever been a 6 time winner!! Whooo hoooo! I almost want to buy the plaque…

  • Monica Autobody
    Monica Autobody

    Yeap… we received it today (03/22/12) here in Maryland… I guess I’ll stick with Steve’s ones… when can I expect to receive it???
    Thanks for the heads-up!

  • Birthday in NYC
    Birthday in NYC

    Hi Jeannie, they must be gearing up – we got it today here in NYC.

  • Jeannie Green
    Jeannie Green

    Thanks Steve; I just got the email that I had won too. I appreciate the time you’ve save me from researching the organization.

  • Alula

    I received an email from and for a second i was kinda proud myself.I wanted to tap myself on the shoulders and was gonna say”dude ,you came a long way from a scrappy kid in the refugee camps of the Sudan,you oughta be proud of yourself but with a little googling………

  • Jack

    OMG! I can’t believe I’ve won Steve’s Award of Excellence! I’m going to put this in the lobby.

    Where do I send my check for $99?

  • Chris Plante
    Chris Plante

    Wow Steve, thanks for the write up about the US Commerce Association plaque giveaway. A free plaque for only $179 plus shipping! It gave me a great idea, though, I think I’ll just make my own trophy and give it to myself. I could order one on a discount website… Maybe I’ll start a club so everyone can recognize everyone else, then just buy their own awards.

  • Myron Lenenski
    Myron Lenenski

    Omigod, We want our plaque! We are so happy to have finally won something. We never win anything…..

  • Scott

    After further research, I’m going to sidestep this potential ‘opportunity.’ There’s too much negative publicity about this organization, and the scam risk is too high to associate it with our company. We’re going to pass, and I’d advise every else to do so as well.

  • Scott

    My company received this award too. I’m not going to buy anything, but I may use the free press release they sent me on our social networks. It’s FREE publicity, so where’s the risk? The only caveat is if this organization is a complete joke. I’ll do more research. Because honestly, there are MANY groups (and awards) just like this one in the market. Some of these awards are even coveted by industry leaders…with the dirty little secret that one way or another, the company actually PAYS to receive the award. So yeah, I may or may not use the free press release they sent me. But I definitely won’t buy anything.

  • Jarrod Neff
    Jarrod Neff

    Thanks for posting and saving me the hassle of dealing with them.

    Jarrod Neff, Lexington, Kentucky

  • Steve

    Well surprisingly, (not surprisingly?) no one took me up on the offer for the free award yet.

  • Rachashael M. Gates
    Rachashael M. Gates

    Just think, Steve, you could be rich with that sales pitch and people really would buy it. Which is unfortunate. Thanks for your blogs.

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