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You have to be a real cool cat to get into the Cambridge Who’s Who registry. A few months ago I received a spam message from firstname.lastname@example.org. A legitimate Who’s Who organization is very unlikely to be using a Gmail address and they wouldn’t have sent the email to AskESET. Here’s the email:
You were recently chosen as a potential candidate to represent your professional community in the 2010-11 Edition of Who's Who among Executives and Professionals.
We are pleased to inform you that your candidacy was formally approved July 12, 2010. Congratulations.
The Publishing Committee selected 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.
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 registry listing within seven business days.
Once finalized, your listing will share prominent registry space with thousands of fellow accomplished individuals across the globe, each representing accomplishment within their own geographical area.
To verify your profile and accept the candidacy, please visit here. Our registration deadline for this year's candidates is July 31, 2010. 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.
With best regards,
Vice President, Research Division
Cambridge Who's Who
498 RXR Plaza, 4th Floor
Uniondale, NY 11556
I clicked on the “visit here” link to confirm I wanted to be in the book. For the name I entered Gilbert Katt. Gilbert is one of my two cats. I do wish I recall all of the other misinformation I provided. I think I said Gilbert is a food processing engineer. It went on and on, so I kept making it up. I also did provide a real phone number.
A few days later I got a phone call asking for Gilbert Katt! They wanted to verify the information was correct. I was simply too amused to string the caller along very long. After assuring me that the organization researches the candidates I let the caller in on the joke. You would think they would know if a Mr. Gilbert Katt was on their list, but they obviously had no clue. The caller seemed to also enjoy the humor in the situation was pleasant and politely hung up after a short time, still insisting that they were a legitimate organization. Fast forward several weeks and today I got a phone call asking for Gilbert Katt. I replied, “Oh, the Who’s Who People, huh?” to which, she asked “Is this Gilbert Katt?”. Once again I explained it was a joke. This time the caller was a bit put off and complained that I did not have to say it was a joke so facetiously and that they could not have known it was a joke! She didn’t believe they had already called me, but did apologize for calling me today.
That’s it, next time they call, which they probably will, Gilbert may get into a Who’s who book! If you search “Cambridge who’s who scam” there is no shortage of links returned about it. A particularly informative one is at http://accrispin.blogspot.com/2007/04/victoria-strauss-beware-whos-who.html.
While Cambridge Who’s Who may not be doing anything illegal, it doesn’t mean that if you fall for their sales pitch you won’t feel like you got ripped off. It’s always a good idea to do a little research before conducting business. One of my favorite searches is to simply add the words complaint and scam to the name of the organization I am investigating to quickly see if there are a lot of issues being reported.
That said, you have to take what you find with a grain of salt and look for a trend. Less than ethical competitors will sometimes publish false complaints and not all of the hits will include a complaint about the organization you are looking for.
Director of Technical Education
Author ESET Research, ESET