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Cambridge shed builder thought he was getting an award, but it was a vanity scam

Cambridge business owner warns about award scam
Cambridge business owner warns about award scam 02:14

CAMBRIDGE - A local business owner thought he was getting awarded a "Best of" honor, only to discover the whole thing was a scam.

"It's plausible! I should win an award for shed building," laughs Kevin Richard, owner of Cambridge Craftsman. "Then, I start thinking about."

Cambridge Craftsman makes high-end sheds, porches, and custom wood designs. The work looks as much like art as it does form and function. Richard got an email saying he was named "Best Shed Maker of Cambridge" by

Cambridge sheds
Sheds created by Cambridge Craftsman Cambridge Craftsman

"It was a woman with a very generic name, like Jenny Smith," explains Richard. "They didn't have a website. You click on the link."

They said he could pay $150 to display a plaque in his business, or $1,500 for a media package. The notice even came with a press release to look official.

"I'm sure they automate it in a way that scales it up to get hits, and prey on the fragile ego of people like me," jokes Richard.

The Better Business Bureau (BBB) calls this a vanity scam. It's a fake award that mimics "Best of Boston," but is done to get your money and banking information. Since 2015, BBB's Scam Tracker has received 1,300 reports of scams that involve the word "award."

Kevin Richard
Kevin Richard, owner of Cambridge Craftsman CBS Boston

"We all seek recognition, and unfortunately people have been scammed by this for many years," said Paula Fleming, spokesperson for BBB New England. "Last year it was brought up, and unfortunately a lot of Boston women were targeted. They were nominated and asked to pay an upfront fee to make it into a runner up, and people were paying the fee."

Thankfully, Richard never sent in the money, and reported the scam to the BBB. The bureau suggests business ask questions like who is giving the award, and who is voting? If an organization can't answer simple questions, then they likely can't be trusted.

"BBB has awards, and those are nominated by your consumers, no fee is surrounding that," adds Fleming. "There are legitimate awards out there, and some do have a small fee. You have to do some due diligence to navigate to see if this is a scam." 

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