Shining a bright light into the dark corners of the shadow-world of literary scams, schemes, and pitfalls. Also providing advice for writers, industry news and commentary, and a focus on the weird and wacky things that happen at the fringes of the publishing world.

April 26, 2007

Victoria Strauss -- Beware Who's Who Schemes

I've been planning on doing this post for some time, but putting it off because it involved a lot of research. What tipped me over the line? The other day my husband, Rob, got a solicitation from Cambridge Who's Who.

"It is my pleasure," the letter from Editor in Chief Jennifer A. Gonzalez begins, "to inform you that you are being considered for inclusion into [sic] the 2007/2008 Cambridge Who's Who Among Executives and Professionals "Honors Edition" of the Registry." This is a major honor, Jen explains, because the Registry will include biographies of "our country's most accomplished professionals," many of whom regard inclusion as "the single highest mark of achievement." There's an application form that Rob can fill out and send back if he's the snail mail type, or if he's electronically inclined he can apply online. Just in case it occurs to him to wonder whether there's a catch, Jen hastens to reassure him: "There is no cost to be included in the Registry."

Rob lives with me (and Writer Beware), so the first words out of his mouth were "This is a scam, right?" Unfortunately, many people are much less suspicious.

There are legitimate Who's Who publishers--A & C Black in the UK, Marquis in the USA. They research the people they include, and while they'd love it if you bought the book, that's not the main reason for their existence. Cambridge and its ilk, on the other hand, are all about the hard sell. Similar to the vanity poetry anthologizers, Who's Who schemes lure customers by presenting themselves as a no-cost opportunity, but make their money by persuading people to buy books and/or memberships--often at costs exceeding $1,000. They claim to be selective, but in reality they harvest names just as junk mailers or spammers do, randomly and without regard to credentials--which means that their networking value, often touted to justify the enormous membership or purchase fee, is negligible. The bigger ones attempt to tailor their solicitations--Rob is in insurance, so he got the Executives and Professionals letter. A woman might get an invitation to the Executive and Professional Women registry. There's a solicitation for people in education. There's one for scientists. There's one for healthcare professionals. Here's an especially disgusting one targeted to people with religious affiliations.

The Who's Who gambit is a long-running, recognized telephone sales scheme about which there are a number of official warnings. There's a dizzying number of different Whos--many of which, I would guess, are run by the same people, though they're pretty good at making themselves seem separate. Here are just a few examples:

- United Who's Who (which has an unsatisfactory record with the Florida BBB for failing to respond to complaints)
- International Who's Who Historical Society (ditto)
- American Who's Who Association, which has a number of different schemes
- Premier Who's Who (formerly Prestige Who's Who, also d/b/a America's Who's Who)
- Emerald Who's Who
- Madison Who's Who (this one also has an unsatisfactory BBB record)
- Global Register's Who's Who (formerly National Register's Who's Who).

Frequently, the Whos are short-lived. Doctors' Who's Who and Nationwide Who's Who are now only Internet memories, but Google either of them and, as with the rest, you'll see people who list them as a professional credential. Ditto for Enterprise Who's Who--which suggests one reason for the schemes' short shelf life in the legacy of complaints it has left behind.

Back to Cambridge Who's Who. It's half of a two-headed hydra made up of Cambridge Who's Who (which previously did business as Manchester Who's Who and Empire Who's Who--according to a press release on Cambridge's website, these two have "merged" to become Cambridge) and Metropolitan Who's Who. Cambridge and Metropolitan do business separately, and have different websites, URL registry information, and mailing addresses. But their logo designs and their solicitation letters are identical (compare Manchester-now-Cambridge's letter with Metropolitan's)--as are their hard-sell telephone tactics.

People who answer the solicitations from Cambridge and Metropolitan report very similar experiences. (These links represent a fraction of the online discussions and complaints about Cambridge in particular.) A representative of the company phones them, congratulates them on the honor of their inclusion in the registry database, and conducts a lengthy interview, with many questions about careers, professional accomplishments, etc. Once the victim has been softened up by this process, the phone solicitor lowers the boom. The victim--who, remember, is under the impression from the initial solicitation letter that no costs are involved--is told that there are two levels of membership--a cheaper junior membership (currently close to $800) and a more expensive lifetime membership (currently nearly $1,000). This money, the victim is assured, isn't for inclusion in the database; it's for access to the database--which surely they're going to want to have, since the registry is a fantastic networking opportunity. To sweeten the deal, there are extras--gift certificates, airline ticket vouchers, a handsome award certificate, a media kit. If the victim expresses doubt about the cost, the solicitor says something like "You know what? Because I really don't want you to miss out on this fabulous opportunity, I'm going to offer you a lower rate! You'll only have to pay what a charity organization pays!" More hard sell tactics ensue. If the victim continues to resist, the solicitor hangs up on him or her--just like those magazine-sales scams where the people rudely blow you off the instant they realize you aren't going to fall for their line of bullshit.

I'm sure it won't surprise anyone to learn that Cambridge and one of its predecessors, Empire, have poor records with the Better Business Bureau (Manchester has no separate record). Empire's BBB report shows 57 complaints over the past 36 months, most involving (surprise, surprise) selling and refund practices. Cambridge's BBB report shows a stunning 150 complaints over the past 36 months, again involving selling and refund practices, and also billing and credit disputes. The bulk of the complaints--123 out of 150--have been made in the past 12 months.

Metropolitan's BBB report is currently being updated. When I viewed it in February (when I first began thinking about doing this post), it cited complaint patterns similar to Cambridge's. Some of the content of that report is reproduced by blogger T.J. at his dogscatskidslife blog.

Another thing Cambridge and Metropolitan share: a very poor reaction to criticism. The hydra really, really doesn't like it when people say bad things about it. When the Southern Conservative blog featured a satirical post about a solicitation letter from Metropolitan Who's Who, a threat of legal action quickly followed from one Cyndi Jeffers of Metropolitan (she also contacted people at the blogger's job). Blogger Shawn Olsen, whose description of his experience with Manchester Who's Who is linked in above, is being pursued by a lawyer hired by Manchester/Cambridge, who threatens a defamation lawsuit and demands $7 million in compensatory and punitive damages. These two bloggers appear not to be the only ones who've experienced this kind of harassment.

So here's my long-distance gift to all of you: a little dose of the good ol' Writer Beware suspicion that Rob has absorbed by proximity. "Money flows to the writer" is a good maxim to live by--but in cases of unexpected invitations, so is what Groucho Marx said: "I don't want to belong to any club that will accept me as a member." If you hear from a Who--and don't assume it will be one of those I've highlighted in this post, because I wouldn't be surprised if Cambridge, at least, were thinking it might be time for a name change--don't hesitate. Toss the letter straight into the recycling bin. That is, unless you want to make fun of it on your blog.

622 comments :

1 – 200 of 622   Newer›   Newest»
Jill Elaine Hughes said...

As one of the people Manchester (now Cambridge) Who's Who targeted and harrassed, I'm glad you ladies have finally been able to post about them. Kudos on digging up so much dirt on these sleazeballs. I spoke to that Jennifer Gonzalez chick myself once; she just oozed snake-oil. I'd love to see her go to jail someday.

Anonymous said...

Did you know the word "who" starts to look funny after you read it so many times?

Great post, btw. As always.

It's me, T.J. said...

You've done a great job on this! I didn't know that Metropolitan and Cambridge were linked.

Thanks!

later...

Edward Willett said...

I think I'll start a Who's Who just for physicians, and call it the Doctor Who's Who.

Thank you very much, I'll be here all week. Try the chicken.

Samuel Tinianow said...

A few people I know have received solicitations like those targeted at students. I googled the name of the organization and, sure enough, came up with a bunch of discussion board threads questioning their value, all of which had been rebutted with the same letter--word for word--from the same "member" of the organization.

The best piece of advice I've heard about these things is, if you really want to make sure you're not dismissing real credentials, save the letter. It proves you were invited to join, which says just as much as actually joining.

B.E. Sanderson said...

I got an invite from one of these things once. When I was fifteen. (Which just goes to show how long these things have been around.) I never laughed so hard in all my life. How legimate can anyone be if they're soliciting high school sophomores to be in a Who's Who of writers/poets. (That's what I get for entering a contest out of the back of a magazine.)

Linda said...

Good timing on this. Several months ago, I got mail from Cambridge Who's Who. "Cambridge" looked impressive, and I assumed my boss or someone in the company had recommended it. The application form said "free," so I mailed it off. I did expect some form of sale for something that would cost money, though I planned to turn it down and just take the free part.

A month or so later, I got a phone call at work from them, with a lengthy interview. Then she hit me with the either/or: I could get membership that was $600 for a specified time (I think it was three years) or lifetime for $800. She wanted a decision right now, and was even tossing in a roundtrip ticket for two. I hated being pressured and wanted to think about it overnight (and then I would have said no), but she kept pushing that she needed it right now--according to her they were on a deadline for getting everything ready for publication. Realistically, I knew this part wasn't true--if she has to interview fifty people a day all week and my last name is at the beginning of the alphabetical list she's going through, the "right now" deadline is fiction. I told her I didn't have my credit card with me, and she pressured for a promise of a time for me to call back. I did call back, got her voice mail thankfully, told her that the listing was supposed to be free, and I wasn't interested in spending money for the membership. She then called back and left me a voice mail saying that the free listing was just of my name and company and not all the other information; the membership got all the other benefits. I did not call her back, and that was the last I heard of them.

Victoria Strauss said...

Did you know the word "who" starts to look funny after you read it so many times?

Tell me about it! By the time I finished revising the post I was having trouble telling the difference between Who, Who's, and Whos.

Please keep the first-hand accounts coming!

C.E. Petit said...

Horton Hears a Who's Who?

Anonymous said...

Thank you so much for all your work regarding all of these writer bewares! I don't usually comment, but I do come and read regularly. Your hard work is invaluable to us all.

Rosemarie said...

Hey! I just gave you a shout on my blog without much description. Found you just surfing. Please stop by to express yourself briefly in the comment section on today's post "Random Thoughts."

Thanks!

Voice on Miscellaneous Matters
http://ruhoffman.blogspot.com/

Dave Kuzminski said...

I may have to list some of these soon. I think I have only one or two already listed.

Jules said...

I first came across this idea with a book called the "International Who's Who in Poetry". There are several publications by this title, and I find it hard to tell which (if any) are legitimate books. All of them cost a small fortune, and none are published by anyone I've heard of. The particular edition I came across, however, was this one, or one very similar. One of the poets mentioned in it was insisting it qualified them to have a wikipedia article about themselves. Sorry, no, Wikipedia has standards...

Victoria Strauss said...

Jules, the book you linked is produced by Poetry.com, a.k.a. the International Library of Poetry, a.k.a. the most active of the vanity anthology companies.

Paul said...

LOL, did they ever call the wrong household or what!?

Brian said...

I want to read "Dr. Who" Who's Who. I love that show. It could list all the Time Lords in chronicles order.

The Quoibler said...

This posting really made me laugh and shake my head... in embarrassment.

Why? Well, when I was a cocky teen girl who thought she was the greatest up-and-coming poet in the universe, I was solicited by a Who's Who of Young Poets (or some such gobbly-goo.)

Of course, I believed every lie. I was awesome, after all, and I couldn't wait to see my breakthrough poem (hold your hats... make sure you're sitting down...) "Oh Goddamned, Blessed Rain" read by millions.

Ironically, my parents put the brakes on, especially when the requests for copious amounts of money came flooding in.

In the end, "Oh Goddamned, Blessed Rain" was never published. Alas. (Though if anyone would like to see it, go to my blog page and request it. I'd be happy to share the drivel as a source of amusement.)

It still makes me giggle. What a doofus I was. Time has greatly humbled this gal.

Anonymous said...

Thank you for posting this very valuable information. You saved me a lot of money and hassle. I got the Cambridge invititation in the mail today, and threw it right in the trash. You are a life-saver.

Anonymous said...

Here is more of the truth! One of the owners of EMPIRE WHOS WHO, parted ways and created MANCHESTER WHOS WHO. Then one of these companies changed their name to METROPOLITAN WHOS WHO. Then an employee of EMPIRE WHOS WHO, left and created MADISON WHOS WHO. Then EMPIRE WHOS WHO and MANCHESTER WHOS WHO made up and created CAMBRIDGE WHOS WHO. Then an employee of MADISON WHOS WHO parted and created EMERALD WHOS WHO.
How do I know this? I worked there and the owners brag about how much money they steal and try and sue each other for copying each others scam!!!

Anonymous said...

Hmmmmm.... this gives me an idea. Maybe I should create a Who's Who of Who's Whos directory, and call up all the Who's Who organizations, and tell them they're now in the Who's Who of Who's Whos directory. That should confuse them!

AJ said...

Damn! Brian beat me to it. Except that I was going to make a snarky remark about the "Doctor's Who's Who": if it contains a Dr. John Smith, certain sentient pepper-shakers may be interested... can you imagine that phone call?

'For the small fee of $999.99 we can...'

'DA-LEKS DO NOT PAY SMALL FEES!'

Anonymous said...

Thank you for the informative post. I am presently a third year law student was solicited by Emerald Who's Who for Executives and Professionals. Thankfully a Google search revealed this blog entry, but not after sifting through numerous professionals using this as an accreditation.

Carolyn said...

As a new freelance writer, I am glad to have found your blog and your "writer beware" site. These predators you mention make me wonder if some of the "writers market" sites are scams, themselves. Can you suggest some reputable online writer's markets in a near-future blog so that I don't get hosed?
Thanks,
Carolyn

Anonymous said...

So , as yet another victim of their scam has anyone ever tried to get a refund? And if so were you successful? I've asked my attorney to send them a "nice" letter beside all the other gears I set in motion - still waiting for the response :)

The Quoibler said...

Carolyn:

Though I'm by no means an expert, I have had success using the book version of "Writers Market". I purchase a copy every other year, and it's been a fairly reliable source for queries to consumer and trade magazines.

That being said, I have never investigated whether the agents/publishers represented in the books are legitimate or not.

AHC

Victoria Strauss said...

Carolyn said,

These predators you mention make me wonder if some of the "writers market" sites are scams, themselves. Can you suggest some reputable online writer's markets in a near-future blog so that I don't get hosed?

I'm assuming that you mean sites that list jobs for freelancers, like Elance . I'm not aware that any are scams, but they may list scams or less reputable projects/employers because most don't seem to employ much if any screening--anyone can post a job. The burden is on the writer to carefully check out any potential job or employer to be sure they're legit.

A comprehensive print guide to magazine markets is The Best of the Magazine Markets, published by Writer's Institute Press (a division of the Institute for Children's Literature). You can check it out at the link above.

If I haven't answered your question, please drop me a line: beware@sfwa.org

Anonymous said...

I too was caught up in this scam. She didn't say "sales are final" until the very end and hung up before I could say anything. When I got home that night, I checked out their website like she said and there wasn't much to offer so I immediately called and left messages to stop and refund me immediately. I've also filed a dispute with my visa company (in the process). What about the 72 hour period to change your mind? Doesn't this apply? I never signed anything nor have I received anything. Any advice?

Anonymous said...

Call back immediately today and say you would like to cancel. Do not give a reason just insist you changed your mind and that if they fail to comply you will dispute the charge!

DO NOT SIGN FOR THE PACKAGE WHEN IT COMES, THEY WILL TRY AND USE IT AGAINST YOU SAYING YOU ACCEPTED DELIVERY!!!!

Anonymous said...

After 2 months I received by now $800 CD Rom which I returned to sender right away.
The only reason I all of the sudden got it was beacause I started making noise.
However, I'm still waiting on my refund!

Anonymous said...

Thanks for the advice about the package. I called again last night and left messages with the editor, finance director and the person who sold me the scam. I reiterated NOT to publish or process anything and that I was taking action against them. My credit card company is now handling the dispute so I pray they do a good job. I had also written to the editor/director and told her the course of events, times, who I spoke with, etc. and asked her to return my call and that I wanted a full refund. Never a response from anyone. They also overcharged me from what I was quoted. They claim I agreed to some extra $100 chg for a wood plaque which I never heard about. Plus they say they are going to charge my visa $199 in a month for some CD Rolm. I'm so mad - at myself too for getting caught in such a scam but they are good on the phone and make you feel that this will really help with networking and look good on the resume. Plus, what the heck, don't the airline tickets pay for it? Yep, everything I read here is what I went through too. I also sent this info to my credit card co. and told them that real action needs to be taken against the co.
Any other suggestions? Should I contact the Better Business Bureau? What about the media? We really need to pull together. I even said to the lady who sold me - how can you do this to people? How do they sleep at night? Some people have no ethics or morals I guess - so sad!!

Anonymous said...

oh yeah, the great airline tickets to anywhere -anytime---also have not receivd those besides everything else I was to get....never again

Anonymous said...

Thanks so much! I found your blog through a yahoo search - what a terrific resource! You highlighted a lot for me about the darker side of these things. Kudos! :0)

Anonymous said...

It's unfortunate that these companies are doing this to people. But is it really possible that all of them are ripping people off? I suggest everyone takes a look at the reputation of each company before the whole industry is bashed. Not everyone is on the same level.

Anonymous said...

Thank you so much for these posts. I just got a letter inviting me into the Cambridge Who's Who today. Of course, at first, I was downright giddy. Then I started talking to people to see who might have submitted my name. No one in my office. Talked to a friend of mine, he suggested I look online. Here I peek, and look what I find!

Thank you again, so very much.

Anonymous said...

Just got the "hard sell" a few moments ago from Cambridge. While in a state of shock and Cambridge holding on the phone--I called my accountant to authorize the $800.00 purchase. He pointed me to various complaints and blogs including yours. Thanks so much for confirming my subconscious thoughts not to give in. I sensed it was a scam and thanks to good sense--all I was provided was a "confirmation number" because I told the woman on the phone that I could not make the purhase unless it was approbved by my accountant.
Thus, we cut off one of the two heads of the hydra!

Terra said...

Just got the call myself (well a voicemail anyway)... I think to offer me a job rather than to put me on the list. But, given that I am not a bottom feeder, I will not be seeking employment in their general direction.

Thanks for the post-- informative and entertaining!

Anonymous said...

I am looking at a Cambridge Letter that was sent to my wife, who just laughed when she read it! However, my favorite part of the letter was the bottom tagline on the 'stationary' which stated "Cambridge Who's Who is proudly not associated or affiliated with any other Who's Who Publication or Organization."

Gee, wonder why...

Anonymous said...

I got the exact same letter you did from those people, who are certainly a scam, and I am not a professional or an executive unless newpaper thrower fits into one of those catagories and I am only 25 plus I am NOT even working now I went back to school. I think they have some way of looking at peoples' tax filing or something because I do have to file my taxes like I run a business because I am a independant contractor and this could be why the think I am a professional.

Charmaine said...

Unfortunately, I wasn't wise enough to Google Empire (or whatever) Who's Who when I got it last summer... So, I was suckered into a 1-year "silver" membership for $300+ and never received any certificate, directory, or access to this so-called prestigious web site... Any advice on how to get my money back? Or is it too late???

Thanks for any advice.

CW

Anonymous said...

I am so glad I found your blog on Cambridge's Who Who. After signing up for membershiip to the tune of $800.00 I felt uneasy about it and tried to cancel it. Of course no one returned my calls or responded to my letters. When I didn't hear from the company I filed a dispute with Amex which is where the charge was. After they contacted the company all of a sudden they produced a document of a recording that said I had been informed I couldn't cancel the membership and Amex ruled in their favor. After reading the information on your blog regarding the number of complaints filed with the BBB, and you were right, they are in the process of upding information on this company, I was able to provide it to Amex and they are running their own investigation against this company. They again have suspended the amount requested from Cambridge. I am also filing a complaint with the Attorney Generals Office. Thank you for taking the time to make others aware.

Anonymous said...

Thank you very much for this great work, I wish I have had all this information before getting Ripoff for over $800.00.from Cambridge who's who.

I received a letter from Cambridge Who's Who in late Feb informing me I was "being considered for inclusion into the 2007/2008 Cambridge Who's Who Among Executive and Professional Women in business 'honors Edition' of the Registry."

The letter further explained:The 2007/2008 edition of the Registry will include biographies of our country's most accomplished women.

Recognition of this kind is an honor shared by thousands of executive and professional women throughout America each year.

I sent back the card with my information and I got a phone call from Mr.Michael Collican Who and after a short question and answer period I was congratulated and told my biography was accepted.

After he congratulated me the sales pitch commenced,The price for being included in this edition ranged from $189 - $789 and mor for VIP plus $ 29.95 for sh&H of a packge. I tolled him I don't know anything about this company and he said that all the information is going to be send out to me and he asked for my credit card #, after few hours after work I Googled this company and found out that I have been scamd.

More people like us need to step forward regardless of embarrassment or other concern for being initially taken, to put these folks in their place, so others will not be taken advantage of moving forward.

Thank you,
Sarah

Anonymous said...

I got a call from the Cambridge Who's Who today. When they told me I had to sign up and pay now or I would lose my chance to be in the registry, I told them that any "professional" person who was deserving of this "honor" would never pay $1000 without checking into all of this. It was the gift card that had me laughing. I really thought I was being honored! Now that I've googled this, I see I made the right choice.

Anonymous said...

Anyone who gets one of Cambridge's letters might want to watch Glengarry Glen Ross first if you haven't already seen it. Just a suggestion.

Anonymous said...

I just received a Cambridge Who’s Who in the mail and my (good) knee-jerk reaction was to look up “who” they were. Alas, I came upon many sites including this one and I’m glad I did.

First of all, I was just recently laid off from a job. Even though I have been pursuing writing for years, this is not my source of income, nor does my resume reflect any sort of exclusive, outstanding background, so why would I be included in such a list of “accomplished professionals? It didn’t help that they also misspelled my last name twice.

It is sometimes hard enough to get your work “out there,” but to get a letter like this and hearing about so many other scams, it makes things that much harder. This is unfortunate for a field such as writing where new, creative, insightful authors should be encouraged rather than become discouraged by having to go through minefields.

Normally, I would’ve simply tossed the letter without posting a comment, but I’m starting to believe that “organizations” like Cambridge do a lot of harm by inhibiting potential excellence by adding more cynicism into the mix.

Anonymous said...

thanks so much for the info...just got the e-mail from emerals who's who, and i thought i'd check it out first. luckily, your post came up on google! you totally confirmed my suspicions! thanks!!

Anonymous said...

thanks soooooooo much for the info; when i read the letter this woman called jennifer gonzalez sent me, somehow something made me think, this is a scam; i mean it sounded so suspicious; one day she'll appear on the who's who scam experts!!!!!!!!!

Cordes Owen said...

I just got off the phone with a lady from the cambridge whos who. I told her i had to think about the decision and she told me that I had to make the decision while she was on the phone with me. No calling back.

Well I told her that if CWW was and organization that had as its goal to put together a list of accomplished professionals as they claim then they would be willing to wait so as to insure the itegrity of their list. She claimed that they had publishing deadlines to meet and that she had to know now. I asked if she were going to be making calls tomorrow and of course her answer was yes. Well then you can wait untill tomorrow because obviously you will be adding names to the list then. She then restated that they are the fastest growing networking directory in the industry and they have 200,000 members. I asked to see an example of this directory so that I could get a preview of what I would be paying for. she said that I had to be a member to get a username and password and there was no demo account. From the sound of the callcenter buzz int the background and hard sell tactics it is no wonder why they are the fastest growing directory.

I told her that i would be honored to be published in her free directory and got off the phone.

THIS IS ABSOLUTLY A SCAM. Preditors like this should go to jail and receive negative Karma points.

Cordes Owen said...

Here is a good trick, If you want to see a listing of the hundreds if not thousands of people who have fallen victim to this scam type this into the google search box.

site:cambridgewhoswho.com

Every page of their directory has been crawled by the google spider. I member's profile page will appear like this (not an actual link):

http://www.cambridgewhoswho.com/profiles/FirstNameLastName-SomeNumber.cfm

Enjoy the list.

Victoria Strauss said...

Adding a link to the above:

site:cambridgewhoswho.com

Worth checking out.

Thanks to all of you who've shared your experiences with Cambridge, Emerald, etc. Our blog traffic has increased by at least 25% as a result of this post, from people searching for information on the various Who's Whos--just another indication of how incredibly active these solicitation schemes are.

Anonymous said...

Okay, so I'm an idiot and actually gave them my credit card information. This was before I checked them out on the web. Is there anyone that has actually received a refund? If so, how did you do it? Do I need to threaten legal action? What legal action can I take. I feel so stupid

Anonymous said...

I filled out the whole Cambridge Whos Who, thinking that they wanted to actually recognize me for my engineering accomplishments. Once I received the call, it was very apparent that this was a money driven scam. The women was obviously reading from a book, with many catchy pre-packaged lines to make me feel like a big man... Well, I could see right through it. She eventually went for the hard sell and I said that I wasnt interested. Then she got pretty aggressive saying that it was my "last chance." After telling her that I thought it was a scam, and that I could have signed up my cat for this and gotten the same treatment, she hung up the phone, and moved to someone perhaps a little more gullable. DONT WASTE YOUR TIME!!!

Anonymous said...

I wish I would have read this before I got the call from a lady named Kris Monte from Cambridge Who’s Who. The procedure was similar: several questions about how I became such an accomplished professional, my career goals etc. then the membership. I asked for days to make decision, and was told of a lower rate 3-yr membership. And gave her my credit card information. I went online and googled the Who and realized that I was just scammed. I called the lady right back within one hour to cancel the membership, she told me she was not responsible to cancel it since everything was already in processing, only the financial department could take care of it. And she did not have the contact information (phone, email) of the financial department. She said she would forward my request to the financial dept immediately and the financial dept would contact me within this business day… I was so mad at myself for being fooled. I called my citibank credit card company to block the charge from CWW, and was told that they could only dispute the charge after it shows up on my bill, so I will have to call the credit card company later for the charge.
What a day!

Deanna said...

I sure wish I had read this blog prior to the phone call I just had from Cambridge Who's Who! Unfortunately, I am of the gullible variety of humans...I had a gut feeling that it was a scam, but let the "wow you are great" spiel take over..plus I liked the thought of 2 airline tickets! My husband then found this website - I am now going to attempt to get my money back. Wish me luck...

Anonymous of Jun 26 said...

I am back here to update my story on June 26,11:20am. I found the phone number in the invitation letter, called the number and left a message " I got your invitation letter and have some questions about the membership, please call me at.....". Not after long a lady from the Cambridge Who's who called me back, very possible considering me as a potential member. I told her I just joined the WHO in the morning and would like to cancel my membership because I need more time to research the institute before joining. ~{!0~}is it because of the charge, how about I give you a lower subscription: 1 years membership of ~~$110, you still get the benefit of air ticket~{!-~}.~{!1~}, I interrupted her and insisted that I need time to consider. She told me everything has been processed during the first call and a package is sending to me soon. I argued about the package, it's no way that the package already on the way within such a short period, and good service always include try and return policy. She said they had this one time deal (no trial, no return) because they have thousands of accomplished members to take care of and not enough personnel and time for cancellation. Then I asked her to give me some member~{!/~}s contact so I could learn about the quality about the WHO from them. She immediately told me I had to be a member to get in touch with other member. Then I said ~{!0~}that~{!/~}s fine, since you have thousands of members, it should be easy for me to get online and ask their opinion on your organization, I don~{!/~}t need any contact from you~{!1~}. The lady was angry at the end, and told me ~{!0~}OK, I will withdraw your application, and the consideration of inclusion is no longer available to you any more.~{!1~} END OF STORY.
One good thing is that they do allow me to withdraw the membership but it is really an annoying experience.
I wish Deanna good luck.

Anonymous said...

Victoria... this is a great blog!!! we should all stand together to make sure that EVERYBODY knows what a scam this company is. oh boy, do i hope that their attorneys attempt to contact me because i will take the harrasment public. The internet will be the small scale of it. i am NOT ashamed or embarrased for being scammed only because I confused them for the real estate "who's who in luxury real estate" it was later when i checked my credit card bill that i realized it was a Metropolitan Who's who. I did a quick search but saw that they had a website so i dropped it. I joined the lifetime membership and was promised a book and all these other things. they had told me that they would send me my id for the website and i never even received a letter from them to welcome me to the club. but then what happened was that i forgot about it and 6 months later they called me to tell me that the book has been delayed and that they were getting ready to send it out but that they needed an additional $400 last time fee for some other bullshit. i screamed at the person on the other line and told them to get that book out to me asap. they told me that it was on its way. then about a week later i received the tickets which i still have but have not called to check how valid they are (that is my next project). I had again forgotten about it and then they called me again 2 weeks ago to verify my mailing address because they were getting ready to send out the book to me. this is the same call that i got 6 months ago. the person again called me to tell me that they needed another $300 for some lifetime bullshit and that this would be the last time. They even repeated my credit card number back to me and were asking me for authorization to charge on that account. i told them absolutely NOT. and that if i saw a charge on that account i would report them. i told him to send me that book for it had been a year since they had charged me the first time which was ALOT! I still have the credit card receipt. i was yelling at the person and that person just replied to me: Are you sure you dont want to make this charge... it is only $300. I said I have NO money i am broke living under a bridge. then he said ok, have a nice life. How scary is that. that is when i decided that after my vacation i had to attack back. i may loose this money, but i will MAKE sure everybody out there knows everything there is to know about this company and hope other people are not victimized. I also read in your blog that attorneys were calling the victims... boy do i hope they call me. Because i will make this a VERY ugly and public case for them. I am not afraid and refuse to allow those attorneys to try to intimidate me. I have NOTHING to loose. they have all to loose. that is the difference and that is what people have to remember... that we were the victims. we are the ones being called and harrassed by their company. how dare they come back to us to try to threaten us when we are merely speaking OUR experience with the company. we are entitled to our opinion... especially in a case where the company contacted me first and not only once but on 3 different occasions asking for money. so yes i hope their attorneys contact me.

Anonymous said...

I received a second letter today and again assumed it was some sort of solicitation. The issue that I have is that somehow this letter was sent to me under my new, married name which I just changed this month. I just this week received my updated driver's license. How is it that they've come by this information so quickly? What access do they have to my personal information? Maybe one of you curious types out there would want to take some effort to further investigate their data collection practices.

Tami in S. Dakota said...

Got one too-it's now in the trash! Another potential victim saved from these people- wonder what their next scheme will be if they never get busted??? BE WARY OF THE MAIL...

Anonymous said...

I also received the invitation, decided to play with them. I am a born skeptic and the more I am pushed the more my feet plant. Got the congrats call this morning wanting to know if it was a good time for me to answer a few further questions. I told them it depends on how long it'll take them to get to the money part. Chris did not like that, told me to never mind, that she had already "made her decision". So is it a compliment to be rejected and unacceptable to a scammer? I suspect they avoid people who may be too much trouble and yes, it IS a scam. Their telephone number shows as "531" in caller ID.

Anonymous said...

I just got a call here at work from Cambridge Who's Who. I forgot that I ever filled out the form a few months ago. The woman had such a nice voice that would make anyone think it was real except for someone like myself that does not trust anyone. I went through the steps about being published thinking all was cool, then she dropped the big bomb on me stating I had to pay money. Told her, I don't have any money to spend on something like this. She tried every which way to get me to pay for a subscription, but I told her I was not going to give my credit card over the phone to anyone I don't know. I said send me something in the mail or e-mail and I would check it out. She was not happy. I told her that she does not need to publish my name now cause I won't give her any money. The call ended. I Googled right away Cambridge Who’s Who & found this site. So happy to see other people had the same thing happen to them. I am mad that I even was on their list cause I am signed up to not get Junk Mail. Guess this one slipped through the cracks. Thanks!!

Anonymous said...

thanks ! this company found me on monster.com & wanted me to interview with them IMMEDIATELY...the first clue that it was a scam was the way he kept running around my questions about the company and their practices. he kept saying the company name very fast also when giving me his whole spiel about what it was. anyway, the final part that made me realize this company was a ripoff is when they told me with commission i would be making 70-90,000$ per year....im 21 and only have my associates, that just isn't feasible at this moment in time, so i did my research on the internet just to make sure my paranoia wasn't creeping in, and nevertheless, i was correct. thanks for the information so i don't waste my time interviewing !!

debbie57_1999 said...

I got one of those Madisons Who's Who. I don't know why cause I'm just a home maker. It gives me a giggle to think that people will do anything to get someones money. I laughed so hard I had an accident!:))

Meredith said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
reginamicia said...

thanks for the informative post!!!

Anonymous said...

I too recieved one of those letters. I filled it out and sent it in months ago, just got a call back about it today. The questions she asked made me suspicious, and I told her I was driving and didn't have my credit card with me. She said that I HAD to give it to her, I again repeated I was driving, and she told me to pull over. So I said "fine"... she asked if I had found a place to stop yet, and I said sure.... she again asked for the credit card number. So I said it's "2468, 1357...." and hung up. She tried to call me back, but I didn't answer and she didn't leave a message... oh well, guess my phone just didn't get good reception while I was 'driving' :)

Anonymous said...

Thanks for the blog... unfortunately I joined. :-( It was a bad decision, thought it would be good for my company to network. It was $600 for that junior membership and another $289 for the book. I'm gonna try and cancel that order.. wish me luck. But they definitely soften you up with all the questions. :-( There's no one really in their network.. just people like me who are gullible and can't stand up for themselves.

Anonymous said...

I am terribly embarrassed about having to post this blog. Last week I too was scammed by Cambridge Who's Who!!! I received a call about 2 years ago about being published in their book, and all of my "recongnition" and "accomplishments" as a professional..blah blah blah....you all know the deal. I gave them my credit card for one hundred dollars or so, and they left me alone for a while.

Stafanie Taylors 516 535 1515 ext 252 called me on a Thursday or Friday and preceeded to tell me how fortunate I was to have been one of the 1% chosen to receive a VIP membership. OH BOY!!!!!!!! I get my picture and accomplishments, etc posted on a full 1/2 page of their book. Blah, blah, blah. I was excited as I am a upcoming professional in my area, and throught this was a great experience to get my name out!!! (Much to my dismay I was scammed for 619.34 on my CITI bank mastercard). Stefanie was such a smooth talker that I did not even realize that she was going to "use the credit card on file" to bill me for the "FREE VIP MEMBERSHIP" she had made mention of earlier in the conversation. I was taken right down the same path the rest of these Bloggers have taken. I am very embarrassed about it.
I called back within 4 days or so to speak with Stefanie Taylors and she would not return my calls. A Robert Sullivan 516 535 1515 ext 370 called to inform me that he had a "Taped conversation" of me agreeing to the amount being charged on my credit card. He was extremely rude, and told me that I was basically "out of luck". I preceeded to ask him if this was how CWW did routine business, and he did not want to hear my complaints. I was at work, and I cut the converstaion short.
I then called my Citi bank card to tell them of the situation. One of the account managers is currently working with me. She has made a temporary "Credit" on my account until the "Dispute" is investigated by CITI card, and they (CITI CARD) would be in contact with the merchant.

I am waiting on pins and needles because I have better than excellent credit, however I do not plan on paying this bogus charge. I will just take a ding on my credit, close the account, and not have a CITI card account. I hope everyone reads this ahead of time.

I wish I had made an investigation ahead of time as well. But, who knew we would get scammed by what we thought was a legitimate business.

Good luck to everyone with a claim or dispute with Cambridge Who's Who!! I will spread the word via email and word of mouth about what "SNAKES" they are!!!!!

Anonymous said...

Hi everyone,

I was caught completely unawares and I fell for the scam myself. I just came back from vacation and was woken up this morning by a rep from Cambridge Who's WHo. She asked plenty of questions and when it came time for that sell, I fell for it. I talked and yesed her just to get off the darn phone. Pretty expensive way too since it is probably gonna cost me the junior membership price of $700.

I wish I did the research online first but at the very least they won't be able to charge me for the book. I called up my credit card company and hd them change my card number.

I also had similar issues with my credit card. Once a charge goes into the approval stage, the best that you can do is to wait for it and then put it into dispute. The way I see it, while they have a recording of me saying go ahead and charge my card, it is a service we are paying for. Service hasn't been rendered yet and I intend on making sure that it doesn't go through. I shouldn't have to pay for a service I haven't received. So, like others before me, wish me luck in getting through and getting a refund.

Victoria Strauss said...

A Robert Sullivan 516 535 1515 ext 370 called to inform me that he had a "Taped conversation" of me agreeing to the amount being charged on my credit card. He was extremely rude, and told me that I was basically "out of luck".

I've gotten a number of reports of this particular intimidation tactic used by the Whos. I would guess that such high-pressure tactics would qualify as duress, and I believe that, depending on what state you're in, the use of duress makes a contract or agreement voidable by the person who is under duress.

At any rate, duress is something to mention to your credit card company when you're disputing the charge (be sure also to give them the URL of this post), or to a lawyer if you seek legal counsel.

RunsWithKnives said...

Another sucker here from last week. I was told they only needed my card # to know how to begin processing the application. I was under the impression that I wouldn't be charged until I received and looked over and signed my package. Needless to say I was charged $618.95 that same day. I have called my credit card company (Bank of America) and they told me to try to call them and cancel it first but that they would make a note on my account. They then provided the dispute charge form online and told me to not accept the package when (and if) it comes and requires a signature.

Arggg! Frustrating! I could go on, but let's just see how far we get. Any updates on refunds people? Heck, at this point I'd give them $50 just to get out of this mess. I'll be sure to dispute it through my credit card company if Who's Who doesn't cancel for me.

Anyone actually get Who's Who to cancel and refund the charges yet?

Thanks and good luck to the other who were suckered.

Anonymous said...

I just received their letter about being specially chosen to be a part of their "Executive and Professional Women." And I almost
fell for it. I looked at their website and thought okay, not too bad.

I am so glad I also decided to do a Google search on them and found your blog. Thank you, thank you, thank you! You just saved me a lot of money and aggravation.

Anonymous said...

Thank you for the "Duress" comment. I just happened to get my CITI bank dispute letter today, and sat down at my computer to write my letter. I saw you post, and decided to add your website to my letter.

I am so sorry for everyone that gets scammed by these people. Great website ladies!!! Keep up the good work! Thank you.

Laura said...

I'm very curious; did Writer Beware become the target of any threats of legal action by these people? I'm sure this blog has been an excellent resource for a lot of people that could have been taken in by this scam. I wonder if it's caught their attention yet.

Victoria Strauss said...

Laura, I may be jinxing myself by saying this...but no, Writer Beware hasn't heard anything at all from Cambridge, or any of the other Whos. If they're like most outfits that prey on writers, they only go after the people they know they can intimidate.

Anonymous said...

Thank you, thank you for blogging about this. I just got one of the "Professional Women" solicitations, and having been in my position for only three months, found it particularly fishy. Like any good cynic, I Googled them immediately, and yours was the first entry I saw that wasn't all glowing comments or from the group themselves. SO glad for your explanation. You saved me a lot of time!

Anonymous said...

Thank you, thank you, thank you. I knew this sounded too good to be true. It seemed fishy to me. Hats off to you for exposing them.

Anonymous said...

Well I can be added to the list.
I received my ego letter from Cambridge who's who today 8/21/2007. Being duped a very long time ago for my poetry...I know nothing is ever free. Suspecting something fishy, I started searching and found my suspicions valid.
The main reason I became wary is I just recently started to tread the surface of free-lance writing. So why would anyone want to reconize me for my accomplishments? How could I be accomplished, being new at the trade. There is no way I've made any real accomplishments, except with a couple of small publications, which I am thrilled about, but my goodness it is only a start.
Thawwwwrrrrt to them, playing on peoples sensitive fragile emotions.

Anonymous said...

Thank you very much for taking the time to research"Cambridge Who's Who). My intuition felt it wasn't legit. So I did a search and I had to understand who was Blogging or bragging!
Thank you again for your're eye opening article .

Anonymous said...

Once again thanks I got one today also and new it was fishy heck coming from my past background they would definately not wont me lol. I think I might fill it out and when they call and they ask me what I do etc tell them I am a professional drug dealer and say heck I though you all got my name from the prison when I killed that guy for trying to rob someone hehe.

Hrmmm I think ill do it I love having fun with people like this.

THanks again

Caro said...

Thanks! Just got off the phone with Cambridge Who's Who, and the talk started out with everything being free (although, of course, they never *said* that word), and so as soon as they started talking about money, the jig was up. I was disappointed, of course, that it's all a scam, but hey--so it goes! Amazing how quickly they lower the price of membership and start adding on crazy gifts when you balk... And then, of course, it's amazing what you'll actually end up with if you say no: they go from trying to sell all of these wonderful wonderful things to, "Well, fine then, go to http://www.cambridgewhoswho.com/basiclisting/ and put in your own damn name!"

I vote we spam the basic listings: I just put in a totally fictitious name and address and submitted it. Unfortunately I can't look to see if it's been posted, since I'm not a member. Any members wanna look and see? I think I used the name Jackson Howland (last name might be incorrect), and put my position as professor, company as Harvard, and city as Boston, MA.

Now I feel better! :)

Anonymous said...

8/28/2007
I just received a letter from Cambridge Who's Who and decided to research it to see what the company(?) were really up to (I suspected right off that there was something fishy).

I found a few other sites that complained about the group, but your site was especially helpful. Thanks for the great research and information!

Thanks, Karin

Anonymous said...

I got an e-mail fromEmerald, claiming it was a follow on to an enquiry I made in April. (no such case) It went on to say that I was among the elite of the professionals in my town and fortunate I would be to be included in the who's who. I had to laugh. "my town" has only 275 people, counting all of the farm hands in the two bars on friday nite! There are no "professional" people IN the town! The closest thing to a professional is the fry cook at one of the bars.

None of these outfits deserve anyone's time and certainly not any money. NOBODY EVER would look at one of these who's who publications anyway, even if they did exist.

greenspirit said...

well add me to the list too. I have a hard time fighting against these people. The day i received the crapy package i returned everything in a heart beat, and called immediately the bank to cancel the sale. this was in April 2007. everything was fine from the bank ( even if i had to give them 10 tons of letters and papers explaining i had been scammed ) until today when i received a call from the bank that the who's who was coming back to the charge. I just sent a letter to the bureau of better business and another one to the attorney general because i am really fed up with these people. I dunno where it will go, but i am ready to do not let them keeping scamming people like that.

Athena said...

I have just been invited to join emerald Who's Who. I am already listed in International Who's Who's for professionals. I do not know who referred me to them. But What I do know that while I was researching business opportunities and ideas, it said do a Who's Who book. It is a good attempt to complile a list of professionals a nd join together to use joint resources, but I understand some of the people just want you to pay the money. I hope one day to make a proper Who's Who for professional so that It can really benefit a wide spectrum of professionals around the world.

Jack Tuszynski said...

Just received me phone call from Cambridge and I was accepted! Hooray! And how much? $800? It did sound professional, but I'm not in the habit of passing out car payments to just anyone, so I asked her to call back in an hour. I Googled, found their site and just below that your post. Thank you very much! I can't wait to ask for the charitable rate, get it then hang up! Maybe I'll have time to sell them on the idea of joining The Strauss Who's Who of Who's Whos.

Anonymous said...

I've been through the scam with Cambridge Who's Who and fell for it unfortunately due to the hard sell, and that fact I was at work and was trying to get the salesperson off the phone. I checked the Internet online as soon as I got home and saw all the blogs about how unethical Cambridge is w/their sales tactics and Who's Who book that never materializes. How did I get them to not charge my credit card? I left voice mail messages for anyone on their pohone directory, AND I threatened them that I would gladly report my experience to the State Atty's Office for New York to the actual division that handles these type of phone scams (I can't remember the name of the dept, but found it when I looked up the State Atty's office). Also told them that I would be contacting the BBB as well. Boy, did I have a quick response from one of the "higher ups" at Cambridge informing me that they would cancel my order, and NOT charge my credit card! I now have an email from Prestige Who's Who offering the same scam. Delete, delete, delete! Advice - just use the Name of the State's Atty who handles these scams, and they react verrry quickly!!

Anonymous said...

I am one of the fortunate ones not to be hit with a solicitation letter from Cambridge et al.--yet. However, I am in the process of looking for a new job and came across a job listing for Cambridge that seemed to fit within my skill set and salary requirements. But something about their ad made me nervous. Of course, after some Googling, I found the true story about the company. Thank goodness I hesitated about sending my resume out. I certainly don't want to work for an outfit such as this.

Anonymous said...

Hi everyone,

I received one of those wonderful who who's in the mail as well. Completed it, mailed it and forgot about it after all it was free, right?
Just a call a few months later- nice sales rep with a good voice- makes you feel important but then here comes the hard sell money!! She insisted I give her my credit card number because this has to be done today, or I may miss an opportunity of a life time. If the first membership was to expensive she has the authority to give me a lesser membership(less money). She only needed my authorization and she would wait until I found the credit card. I said okay, wait one moment. I guess she is still waiting!!! SCAM AS SURE AS RAIN.

DC

Anonymous said...

I fell for this scam because when I was in high school I was selected for a legit who's who. When this came I immediately thought of that, which had been very helpful for me, and bought into it. I did get the call and got talked into buying one of their memberships, but once I hung up I realized it was a little fishy so I looked them up. Lo and behold I came to this site, saw it was a scam and called back my "Account Director" getting only a voicemail. I left a threatening voicemail basically saying that I had been scammed in the past hour and did not want any of their company's services. Maybe it was that they realized I work in litigation or maybe they just didn't want any trouble, but I got a call shortly thereafter from some guy saying he heard I had questions about my purchase. I told him that I didn't want any of their services and he immediately agreed to cancel the purchase. These people are leeches and should be put in jail for what they do to innocent people.

Anonymous said...

Thanks to all of you. how could we further get this word out? I am an older adult & I let myself be talked into $100 which my credit card took care of, take god I said no to the high price, but still feel stupid. Good advice about not accepting the package. When I called back trying to cancel..the lady I originally spoke with sang silly songs and actually belched! into the phone!!!when I told her I wanted to cancel!! Professional? I told Am. Express about this.

Scrat said...

I just received an offer for the "...Among Executive and Professional Women" edition. Does it count that not only am I actually male but they got my first and last name transposed? :)

Because of the name screw up I was able to ID the source seller to Fawcette Technical Publishing (as was) who originally had to change as such to resolve delivery issues for a magazine I used to receive (long story).

Thanks for the great work!

S

Anonymous said...

Re: Anonymous' message of 09/17

Thank you -- and all the others -- so much for posting this info.

I fell for it this morning. Got the call at work, and within the hour, I knew I should have listened to my gut feeling. Also, I felt extremely stupid. I called "my account director", only to receive a message that this number was not in service at this point. I then called the number listed on their stationery and was told I would receive a call later this afternoon or tomorrow. Called back the account director, this time the number worked, and left a clear and precise message.
In the meantime, I started doing more research, came upon this site and was armed with info (State Attorney's Office, name, etc. -- I am not in NY State). I was ready to call every extension tonight and leave a voice mail (thanks, Anonymous!). Lo and behold, just now, after official business hours, I received a call from a rep. He wanted to know what and why. I kept repeating "I simply changed my mind" (as an easy start) to each of his questions (budgetary issue? Is it a budgetary issue? If it is, I might be able to help you) After I was on hold for a couple of minutes, he said I would be credited. Let’s see -- I hope it's true. I think what made this smooth -- so far, I'll talk again when I see the credit on my statement -- is that I went (let myself be talked into) the (supposedly) cheapest program they have, which is still around $200.00
I feel like such a fool, because they know how to make you feel good about yourself.

TRUST YOUR INSTINCTS! My alarm bells did go off when I was not given time to think it over; made feel uninformed ("Do you not KNOW who we are?"), etc.

Anonymous said...

Just got the F.O.S (full of shit) letter today. I think a a quick way to tell if it's real or not is to just look at the Gonzalez signature. If its pre-printed (like they are), I'd be headed for the trash. If they don't have the time to sign themselves, it must not be that important. That's how I feel anyway.

Anonymous said...

I just received the letter and am thankful for a little curiosity and this blog.

Just thinking that the best thing to do (and maybe get you off the list) is to put some heavy washers in the return envelope - make them pay for that return postage!

Be curious!

Anonymous said...

Thanks so much for your research, and to everyone for their posts. I was harassed this morning by the representative from Cambridge. They assured me that I MUST commit to one of their expensive memberships TODAY, as I was "already past the interview process." The representative continued to reduce the price of the memberships, offer travel vouchers, etc. I knew at that point, we had a scam!
The representative indicated that they had over 200,000 members in their database...I would sure hope that is incorrect information!

Anonymous said...

It would be fun to record the call and post it on a blog. I would be interested in their answer to the direct question "the letter said there was no charge". That would probably make the news.

Anonymous said...

I received my letter in September and started receiving calls ever since. They really did a great job of making me feel special. Here I am thinking WOW, someone wants me in their publication and I could use this as a networking tool. This is low and I am happy I did the research on Cambridge Who's Who.

Anonymous said...

Unfortunately this morning I opened the letter and like most others was interested in being recognized. I typed in Cambridge in my Google bar to start my research and hit their site first and entered the online app information (no credit card info).

Then I went back and hit the other Google search links and ended up here and now of course I am upset that I fell for this scam.

Thanks for posting all of your comments.

Natalie said...

I just found this great page of "success stories": http://successstories.cambridgewhoswho.com. And by great, I mean incredibly sad.

Try googling some of the business names. "Melody's Income Generator" (in quotes) gets a whopping 10 results, and The North American Andy Transplant Foundation, brings up a craptacular website http://www.andytransplantfoundation.org/

Anonymous said...

Thank you!! I was 10 minutes away from a Cambridge Whos Who interview - at least now I will not waste my time! Wendy

Anonymous said...

Another thank you for this information. I received my letter today. I was temped by the "free", but it goes right out with the trash after reading this.

roger said...

wow, I should have googled this earlier...I just got off the phone from a 20 minute "interview" with Emerald Who's Who...everything was just as described by the others on here...praised me up and down and gladly let me know I had qualified for inclusion into their newest edition...then came the sales pitch...luckily, I knew I didn't want to pay for it, even if it was legit..:) So, wheil she was pitching, I was Googling in the background..and found your site...then it was the battle to get off the phone with her...she put up a great fight, but my barrage of "no thanks" finally wore her down...

Get info on here, now I'll be better aware...I should have known that my work quality wouldn't get me nominated for anything..:)

roger said...

oh, btw: follow-up comment

fyi: I had originally received the email from the Madison Who's Who (and yes, stupidly replied with my info), but when they called me, they were now from the Emerald Who's Who, so yes, they are all linked...again, unlike me, do your research!!

Colleen said...

Haha - You are right on! - I just received the invitation from Cambridge and smelled something stinky - I Googled, found your blog and was delighted that my instincts were correct. I actually sent the registry request with bogus info because it is "Postage Paid". I figure they deserved it. If everyone did that they'd pay out the nose and eventually give up the game.

Anonymous said...

Colleen -
What a wonderful idea! I just got this prestigious invitation (and I pity anyone who regards anything like this as their "single highest mark of achievement" sheesh) and I was going to toss it (already knowing it was a scam) and googled it anyway, found this blog and just think your suggestion to send back BS information just so they pay the postage is inspired! I'm going to do that.

Deos said...

Hi, I read your article and was really interesting.
This summer I received a weird phonecall and I showed no real interest. I immediately thought it was a scam but the woman offered me a real deal of a cheap trial. The real memberships were really expensive by the way.
So I agreed and wanted to check out their website which appeared to suck. I did some additional research about this firm and found other firms that were really similar: similar website logo's, used names. Only the addresses were different and such obvious stuff. After calling in a couple of times, I got every single time the same guy on the other end which was really odd.
Furthermore I only required my last name to identify and you would think they would ask for your member ID.
After gathering more information about the servers hosting the website I found that one particular website (I won't mention the name) was created by a 'firm' which appeared to have created the website. Last update of that website was in 2006 and they had an online portfolio of other websites that appear o be scams as well. Funny thing is that all the websites were created in 2006 and so were the firms ^_-
Now my research is done I guess and last week I reported the whole issue to the FBI so they can deal with it.
For everyone else who has received offers from companies claiming they will list you in their database: check the company's BBB report. Believe me, all regular and honest firms will want to be listed in the BBB database so if the company is in there, you will know for sure it's not a scam.

Anonymous said...

wow, amazing how long this has been going on. I received a letter last week and was suspicious as I am not in a "prestigious" position in my career.

Thanks for the info - this letter went straight to the trash.

hiswizardeyes said...

Yeah, I'm in college and I don't even have a job and I got a letter about the Executives and Professionals "Honors Edition" version; what the hell - honors? Is that supposed to make me want to buy it more? Though the editor-in-chief listed was M. Foster instead of Gonzalez. What a load of crap. Thanks so much for posting this! Very informative, and it makes me so angry that this kind of crap happens.

Anonymous said...

I just got off the phone with these knuckleheads. I have to admit that I was taken in for a short while then as I was going through the "interview" it dawned on me that this was a scam. A quick Google search brought me to this page. I listened for about another minute and then just ended the conversation. He was not happy when I told him that I would not make a decision until I had seen what they were publishing.

annechamb said...

Hi there! Thanks for your research! Just want to add to the anecdotes about Cambridge... I received an invitation to join the Who's Who Executive and Professional Women's "Honors Edition" of the registry today. I have my talents, but I am neither an Executive nor a Professional. I am, in fact, a stay-at-home mom to 3 small children. The last paying job I had was that of middle school English teacher in 1999. Ah well, as Bertie Wooster would say, "Into each life some rain must fall" and I regret I will have to decline the invitation of "M. Foster, Editor and Chief" to join this august body.

Kerri said...

Thank you very much for the information. I just received one of these letters today and am thankful that I can avoid the inconveniences that some of the other bloggers experiences.

Anonymous said...

BLOCK ALL CHARGES ON YOUR CREDIT CARD!

I am a professional who was invited to join CWW. Due to some confusion on my part, and as a person who belongs to many organizations, I mistook the CAMBRIDGE'S WHO and WHO for somthing else.
After an extensive "interview", I foolishly gave my credit card # and authorized them to sign me up. Immediately after getting off the phone, I googled and found this site. Within 1 minute, I called my credit card company and asked them to BLOCK ALL CHARGES EFFECTIVE IMMEDIATELY (LIKE THE CARD WAS LOST/STOLEN). Asking them to block a single INCOMING charge may not be effective as they will ask you to wait for the charge to appears and then dispute it. THEN, IT IS TOO LATE. I read all the comments and there isn't a single comment about A SUCCESSFUL REFUND. As soon as you realize this is a scam, call and ask your credit card co. to block ALL INCOMING CHARGES UNTIL YOU DECIDE TO UNDO IT/CHANGE THE NUMBER. After contacting my credit card co., I called CWW back and ask them to hold off on processing my application. The response was similar to everyone's experience. "Membership department will get back to you in 24 hours" "The application process goes through immediately". About 15 minutes after I got off the phone with CWW, they called back and left me a message stating they will hold off on the application and then added that the charge to my card was declined....obviously they tried to charge me right away and failed.

Anonymous said...

Emerald Who's Who just contacted me via phone after I filled out an online form this weekend. Thankfully I didn't provide any of my credit card or bank information. I just received a call from them and their representative was saying the exact things other people have been told. The rates were $689 and $469 or something close to that. The discount 2 year membership was only $249! That's when I hung up on them. 2 minutes later I was reading this site! Thank you so much for posting! I'm sure it will help others! I guess flattery does work these days! Man I feel like a fool! Good luck to everyone else out there, stay smart and do research before you give anyone you don't know your personal information.

Gelly from Minneapolis.

Anonymous said...

I was contacted by Cambridge Who's Who many times over the past few weeks. When I finally gave the salesperson the time of day she took some information about my job and then went in for the kill. I immediately recognised it as a bad cover up for a scam and pointed that out to the lady. She assured me that thier company was legitamate and diveled on long enough for me to poke around the internet and find your site. When she was done spewing after seveal failed attempts to get her off the phone I informed her that I had already made a complaint to the BBB while on the phone with her. I suggested that thier sales approach be shorter in the future, especially if I had enough time to do that! Thank you ladies!

Travis said...

Wow, you can actually view the biographies of the poor suckers that paid $800 for the VIP membership! Those poor souls. Something smelled funny when I received the letter offering inclusion into "Cambridge Who's Who Among Executives and Professionals in Aerospace Honors Edition". I mean, really, "considered by many as the single highest mark of achievement"!

Anonymous said...

Here's my suggestion.... the postcard is pre-paid postage which means for everyone that is mailed, Cambridge has to pay postage. So fill out one or two lines with fake info and stick it in a mailbox. Those postage costs will eventually add up for them......

Grateful said...

I just received a letter informing me that I am being considered for inclusion into the 2007/2008 Cambridge Who's Who Among Executive and Professional Women "Honor's Edition." I was at first thrilled that someone had submitted my name for such a distinguished honor. I read every word searching for a cost or any signs of a scam, and found none. Getting something -- unexpectedly -- for nothing was a little unnerving to me. Skeptical, I began to search the internet to ensure that this was a legitimate company and true honor. I found this blog. Thank God for you and your research. You saved me from this terrible scam. Lord knows, I have enough stress in my life, and I don't need anymore!! Thanks again.

Alice Shortcake said...

Anyone feeling embarrassed about falling for the Manchester/Cambridge scam may feel better about themselves after reading this:

http://badpsychics.com/thefraudfiles/modules/news/article.php?storyid=634

Psychic Rose Schwab positively glories in her string of utterly meaningless awards, which include a couple from Manchester/Cambridge...

David W. Carr said...

This is a good blog. I was just contacted today (1/2/08) because I had previously paid for a "Gold" membership and now since they have merged and redesigned their web site they have a new "VIP" package for $600. I spoke to "Dana" for over 10 minutes and she tried every angle for me to bite bringing the price down to $298. The crystal engraved plaque was $200 and then there is the 2000 page hard cover book (which can come in a softcover which they tell you later is cheaper). No thank you! Beware, they are very slick in the way they "lead you" to a sale. I do not like the feeling I was left with - slimy! Take care out there and beware.

Anonymous said...

Sympathies to all who fell for this. I guess sometimes the empirical method is the only way to learn something.

After getting these things for a few years in a row, a few months ago they sent me another application; so just for giggles and grins, I sent it in to see what would happen. I figured that, though the listing was said to be free, they'd try to sell me a copy of the book with my name in it.

When I got the call from them wanting to "interview" me, I told them they had to call me at 6am my time (9am theirs, in NYC), at home, because I didn't want to do an interview at work. They ended up calling me a few more times at work ANYWAY, then a couple of times at home at the wrong time after I'd already left for work.

Finally, about a week ago, they made the call at the right time. The interview, as many of you know, was pretty trivial (educational background, why I wanted to be in their listing etc; they didn't even ask what I'd done that was so noteable that I should be in "Who's Who"), and finally they said "congratulations, we'll put you in" (even though the reason I gave for "wanting" to be in was that they'd solicited ME, not the other way around).

Then they hit me with the money hook. In my case, the "platinum" was nearly $1000, with hundreds of dollars in annual recurring fees; The "gold" was MUCH more reasonable (sarcasm alert), a few hundred dollars a year for reduced "services". Well, that of course got the Scottish Jew in me all riled up. So I asked them "well, what do you have for a free membership?" They said "well, we have a trial membership for $150". I responded "well, perhaps you can't count. $150 isn't ZERO dollars. What do you have for zero dollars?" And the response was something about a complimentary one-time listing or some such. So I said that'd be fine, and they said they'd do that, and that was the end of the call; no cc info was ever exchanged.

The funny part is, just a half-hour ago I got ANOTHER call here at work from them! So I told the woman that I'd already talked to her people, and she said thanks and that was the end of THAT. But it will be interesting to see if I get any more calls in the future. I DO wonder how much money they spent on all those long-distance calls across the country. Must be a pretty profitable business.

I think that next, I'll submit my dad's name for candidacy. One of his greatest joys is going to shops and being an old coot to them about something he'd bought with which he wasn't satisfied. This is JUST the kind of thing he'd sink his teeth into, I'd bet! I'll make sure Dad knows not to give them a cc number; but, being my father's son, I'm sure he'll know better...

Anonymous said...

Though I too sympathize with those who were caught up in this (I also received the letter, but did not bite), I think calling this operation a scam is a little over-the-top. It is no doubt true they are rife with high-pressure sales tactics, immediate credit-card charging, and much difficulty in getting refunds. But some folks WERE apparently successful in getting refunds, so it is not like they completely refuse to provide them.

A "scam" implies illegal activity. They probably do exactly what they say they'll do: put your name in a listing and allow you to access it so you can "network". They surely hype the listing WAY more than it deserves (I think the only exclusivity to the listing is that it is reserved for people willing to spend all that money to get on it), but there's probably nothing illegal here. I think that as long as you don't give 'em your charge numbers, you can have fun with 'em if you want, as a couple of posters have done. In fact, I'm now a little sorry I don't still have the letter, so I can do so myself. If you choose to do that though, just keep your wallet in your pocket or your purse closed.

Anonymous said...

Um, no one is telling you to buy this stuff. They sell crap like any other business, and it's your own fault if you're such a dope that you buy into this. It's clearly a play into people's vanities, but it's not illegal!

Anonymous said...

I must disagree...THIS IS 100% A SCAM. They claim they will provide you with a service, they claim they have way more members then they actually do, they claim they select people on merit, accolades, and accomplishment, they claim it is free...ALL OF WHICH IS A LIE! No one ever benefits, they have nowhere near as many active members as they say, they will list anyone with a CC#, and it is far from free. In addition, once you do pay, they seem to run your CC when ever their hearts desire.

THIS IS THE EPIPFANY OF SCAM.

Anonymous said...

Relax. You pay for your vanities. And it's doubtful anyone's running your card "whenever their hearts desire." Such drama! You want scams? There are plenty of real scams the government should investigate.

Anonymous said...

who's who is a scam! nalts said it himself!

Anonymous said...

Ha! I worked for these guys in more of a support capacity. Hate to break this to you, but it's not a scam. It's legal, there is no defrauding. If someone didn't want their package or were unhappy, their credit card was refunded. I'm sure there had to be some instances that were shady, but that's not new in any industry.

And you know what? I felt like I WAS doing a good deed working there. I did my best to go over the person's bio, fact-check it, read it for mistakes, etc., so that they would get what they paid (and they KNEW what they paid) for.

So, how is this a scam? It may be scammish, but what isn't, from the beauty and health industries to the book and music clubs--you think the phone companies don't hard sell and scam you into buying their packages--I could go on. Sure, there's high-pressure selling tactics, is there an industry where there isn't? The point is that no one is twisting your arm to buy this, and if you do, you buy at your own risk. Someone wants pay $600 for a book and a plaque, so what? Or, if you don't want it, you just get your name and info online and in the book for nothing.

You know what, guys? No one tells you the straight dope, not the President, not the Pope and certainly not the businessman.

Anonymous said...

People hate to hear the truth, but I worked there for 6 months. They will tell people they are a different whos who on the phone. Charge people twice. Lie about recording convos. Threaten to ruin people's credit if they dispute. Sell to people overseas who do not fully understand english. Lie about if they charge you in dollars, euros, or pounds. Finally they send you a paid invoice in 10 days saying you had 24 hours to cancel.

OPEN YOUR EYES AND READ WHAT THE OTHER 99% OF PEOPLE WROTE HERE...NOTICE A THEME?

Anonymous said...

You're obvisouly not telling the truth!

I listened to these people for 3 months (sorry, didn't make it to 6!), and not once did I get any inkling that they were going to ruin anyone's credit or charged people twice. In fact, the trainers made it painstakingly clear that nothing inappropriate had better take place or you're out! Now I don't know what the principals do with the money, but the chicanery ain't happening on the floor.

BTW, dear, they do record phone convos--of the sales people and everyone else in the office. Oh, and I still have a friend who works there, and if anything, security has gotten tighter.

You must've been one of the sad sacks who got taken, and now you just can't admit it.

If anyone has a TAPE RECORDING, then why don't you make it public?

perky26 said...

I too belong to Cambridge Who's Who but I disagree with most if not all of you. I have had the ability to network myself. I have been offered some amazing opportunities. I took advantage of one and am doing great. Do you people think you are going to get something for nothing??? This is the U.S. where gas is over $3, we don't even mfg our own products here anymore!!! Have you heard of the housing market scam a lot of you bought into. Did you actually believe the interest rates were going to stay so low??? Why don't u people stop bashing a company that employs people in the U.S. and publishes the profile of some amazing people. Instead of bashing them why don't you use them to your best advantage and get something out of it?

Anonymous said...

Thank you for a very cogent and unemotional point of view!

Anonymous said...

HEY PERKY...Your either an idiot or work for one of the Who's Who Companies. Publishing amazing people??? I hate to burst your bubble they buy lists of emails from brokers and will sell it to anyone dumb enough to buy it! They butter you up with an interview and deceptive sales tactics. YOU NEED 3 QUALIFICATIONS TO BE INCLUDED.
1. A PULSE
2. A CREDIT CARD
3. A BIG EGO

Anonymous said...

I got letters from Metropolitan in 2006 and Cambridge in 2008. Last year I called and got the pathetic sell... "We are honoring you for all you've done as a woman in business, but pay us a hundred something bucks for your plaque." So I took my letter, filed it for reference that my business and self would appear in the directory and then wrote my own press release and sent it to the local papers. A few new customers came in from seeing the mention - so I got something out of it. I knew it was a scam but like I said, used it for a local paper mention that got me a few new customers. So the new letter just came for Cambridge and of course the logo is exactly like the Metropolitan. ALL I REALLY NEED TO SAY IS thank you thank you to all the people who have posted these blogs. They are empowering and make me confident that I'm not passing up an opportunity. And that I shouldn't continue to associate myself at all with such a stupidly unprofessional association, no matter how good "Who's Who" sounds. Thank you to all the writers.

Anonymous said...

I think Victoria's keeping this topic afloat. It's just too hard to believe there are so many whining saps in the world. Eh....maybe not so hard.

Victoria Strauss said...

Although this post is way back in the blog archives, I'm still monitoring it, and over the past few days I've deleted a number of flame-ish comments. I'll continue to do so.

I welcome comments from anyone who has experience with one of the Who's Whos, but please let's keep it on topic and civil.

Thanks.

Anonymous said...

The latest person signing this letter is the editor in chief M. Foster! Guess they were tired of jen's name popping up in google searches!

Anonymous said...

Just got the infamous invitation in the mail and started laughing as I read it. After telling my coworker why I was laughing (our mail typically isn't funny), I went straight to Google to search what I was fairly certain was a scam. When you're right, you're right! (And my letter is signed by M. Foster, Editor in Chief.)

Anonymous said...

what about all the people these who's who employ some of them employ 100's of people, generating jobs, pays a very good compensation, fair to the employee, an equal opportuniy employer with benefit packages camparable to most fortune 500 companies. If someone wants to be in the whos who why make them feel as if the have done something stupid. They get the recognition they want while all the while putting money in the pockets of the sales person that conducted that lengthy interview. Just cuz you dont want to pay dont complain. Its working for a lot of people. And whos to say what a persons credentials or merrits are necessry to be recognized. If you want to pay for it.

Anonymous said...

Congratulations on being the second hit on a "cambridge who's who" Google search! I got one of these in the mail yesterday and sensed immediately it was some kind of scam. Five minutes reading this blog post clears it right up. Thanks!

Anonymous said...

Agh.. I wish I found this sooner. They got me the first time and I never received the "book", etc. Got a call today and they asked if it was ok if the post office could leave without a signature. Without thinking I said ok. And they are trying to charge me a second time for the book that I never got in the first place. I have called my credit card company and the charge is already pending and have to wait until it is cleared to dispute it. I know I've got a case since I never received the first packet (stupid me). Regardless if they reverse the charges - I will report to the State Attorney's office - because while it may be "technically" legal - our Attorney General is aggressive about stuff like this. I'll also share it with the news stations who also go after this stuff in my community.

thanks, but no thanks said...

I just received my invitation for inclusion in the 2007/2008 Cambridge Who's Who Among Executive and Professional Women "Honors Edition." I spent about 14 seconds being mildly flattered--after all, I am a reasonably accomplished writer and editor, having worked in the field for nearly 20 years now. Perhaps it's my time to receive some professional recognition?

Well, thanks, but no thanks, (Mr.? Ms.?) M. Foster, I'll continue to garner my meager kudos from my coworkers and allow my reputation to spread through those less glamorous avenues, such as good old-fashioned word-of-mouth. Methinks that your registry of "thousands of executive and professional women throughout America" will simply bring me more uninvited invitations for wonderful opportunities such as yours. I simply haven't the pocketbook for your generosity.

Anonymous said...

My 17 year old high school student son just received an invitation to join "Cambridge Who's Who Among Executives and Professionals Honors Edition." I figured it had to be some kind of scam, and of course, it was. I just wonder where they got his name and address and why they think he's a "professional." Just for laughs I should send the form back in and list him as a "professional high school student" and see what they do. They'd probably list him, if I gave them the money!

Anonymous said...

Thank you so much for writing about them. You are doing a great public service - I received one today and googled. Thank you to GOOGLE too!!!

Anonymous said...

I've been called at least 5 or 6 times by them - not for inclusion in their registry, but to interview for a position with them. Whenever I get an unsolicited call with a job offer, I immediately Google the company name, if the gave it, or the phone number. Sure enough, they usually leave out the name of the company and ask me to call a number, then an extension. The number they leave is (on Long Island, NY) 516-535-1515. When I Google that number, it comes up as Cambridge Who's Who. I've never even entertained the idea of returning their calls, having read all of the "scam alerts" on the web.

Anonymous said...

Wow...I'm glad I just read this blog! I was going to mail in my "no-cost" registrey form.

Joann said...

It's funny. My husband just started his company 2 months ago and now we get a letter from Cambridgge. I knew it had to be a joke but didn't expect this much info to be found. Good Job!!

Anonymous said...

And I thought I was sooooo special! Bummer. Another case of being a legend in my own mind.
Seriously, I was so happy to find your site after receiving my Cambridge letter. Into the round file it goes - and yet my vanity remains intact.
Robin G.

Anonymous said...

I did not do my homework nor was I skeptical of the CWW's manuevers. Now what do I do?

Anonymous said...

But I received my letter from the Editor in Chief, on behalf of the Managing Director!

Thank you for the confirmation of my suspicions, although I remain convinced I am a very important person.

Anonymous said...

Thank you so much for taking the time to disclose this. You saved me!

Anonymous said...

I just got off the phone with them, but I had to go back on shift, so I put them off when it came to the cc information. I am glad that I did. I can't afford to lose $1k!! Thanks so much for this post. BA in DC

Anonymous said...

I just had a call today from a lady who wanted to interview me for 15 minutes. I was skeptical but curious, and told her to call back tomorrow. (I really don't want to talk to anyone and give them personal information!) Hey, everybody, thank for the What's What on the Who's Who! Any brilliant comments when she calls me back?

Anonymous said...

Funny because I just got off the phone with them this morning and I told her that I left my credit card at home and if she call me back tomorrow. She said that she would check with her supervisor and put me on hold, I immediately hung up. Something didnt feel right because they were asking me to purchase a Platinum membership for 800.00! I am going to call her back and say that is that the only way to be included?

-LT in DC

Anonymous said...

Thanks for taking the time to research and post. I received the Cambridge scam in today's mail. Perhaps we can create the "Women's Who's Who Refusal Registry."

noranbc said...

There is a Biltmore Who's Who with a trial membership of $189 + 29.95 S&H of materials.

Anonymous said...

Just got an invite to Cambridge's in the mail - decided to google them to see what I could find and came upon your blog. Thanks for the info - I know just where to file this.

Anonymous said...

I recently received a promotion at work and then came home to the Who's Who Stuff. I also thought it was junk and googled it. Thanks for your write up. - L

Support NRML said...

Being that I am not a Doctor, Lawyer or Indian Chief, and I have changed professions ALOT - the letter from Cambridge smelled very much like a dead fish... I must say I am smarter than the average bear and this letter kept gravitating to my walet.... Wow. I am glad some one let us know that these Cambridge folks are related to Buddy Dallas in Thomson Ga. He's a slime bag TOO. Good Luck and I hope your vanity doesn't work on you to spend your hard earned money

Anonymous said...

I just received an e-mail from Emerald. I will report it as phishing thanks to you guys. Keep up the good work.

Here is the start of the mail:

I am pleased to inform you that today, March 27, 2008 Emerald Who's Who for Executives and Professionals has selected you as potential candidate into our organization to represent ...

Anonymous said...

Thank God for your post. I was foolish enough to fill out and accept Cambridge Whose Who application. But after accepting membership and a $500 fee, something just did not feel right. I decided to google Cambridge Whose Who and your site was the firt to come up. It explained exactly what had happened to me and I immediately called my credit card co. to cancel payment! Thank you so much!!

Richard said...

I just got off the phone with the kind gentleman at Biltmore Who's Who. Experienced the same interview about my career with the final "Congrats!", and lead-in to the sales pitch about press kit, photo-ready artwork, plane tickets, plaque, world recognition, etc. As a former door-to-door sales rep for Southwestern Book Company, I recognized all the Zig Ziglar type pump 'em up and go for the close sales techniques from the start (i.e, ask questions that reveal what makes the customer tick, and never ask "yes/no" type questions).

I said "I am not interested in membership" and hung up when he asked for my credit card info.

Here's the whois on them:

The data contained in GoDaddy.com, Inc.'s WhoIs database,
while believed by the company to be reliable, is provided "as is"
with no guarantee or warranties regarding its accuracy. This
information is provided for the sole purpose of assisting you
in obtaining information about domain name registration records.
Any use of this data for any other purpose is expressly forbidden without the prior written
permission of GoDaddy.com, Inc. By submitting an inquiry,
you agree to these terms of usage and limitations of warranty. In particular,
you agree not to use this data to allow, enable, or otherwise make possible,
dissemination or collection of this data, in part or in its entirety, for any
purpose, such as the transmission of unsolicited advertising and
and solicitations of any kind, including spam. You further agree
not to use this data to enable high volume, automated or robotic electronic
processes designed to collect or compile this data for any purpose,
including mining this data for your own personal or commercial purposes.

Please note: the registrant of the domain name is specified
in the "registrant" field. In most cases, GoDaddy.com, Inc.
is not the registrant of domain names listed in this database.


Registrant:
Biltmore Whos Who
Suite 220
4601 Sheridan Street
Hollywood, Florida 33021
United States

Registered through: GoDaddy.com, Inc. (http://www.godaddy.com)
Domain Name: BILTMOREWHOSWHO.COM
Created on: 09-Aug-05
Expires on: 09-Aug-08
Last Updated on: 20-Jul-07

Administrative Contact:
Mittler, David webmaster@biltmorewhoswho.com
Biltmore Whos Who
Suite 220
4601 Sheridan Street
Hollywood, Florida 33021
United States
9548930114 Fax -- 9548939527

Technical Contact:
Mittler, David webmaster@biltmorewhoswho.com
Biltmore Whos Who
Suite 220
4601 Sheridan Street
Hollywood, Florida 33021
United States
9548930114 Fax -- 9548939527

Domain servers in listed order:
NS1.IMPACTBS.COM
NS2.IMPACTBS.COM

Kabes said...

While I, like the rest of America, have a pretty over-inflated opinion of myself, I was pretty surprised to receive the Cambridge Who's Who letter...and promptly googled it, to get your blog, and so, I want to say Thank You!

Anonymous said...

I got a letter from Biltmore Who's Who today. I did have to chuckle, I'm more of a Who's not who kinda person. I was curious and googled the name and came across your website. Thanks for confirming my suspiscions.

I did fill out the postage prepaid card and sent it back to them. Well, I filled out the name and phone number only. The name I entered was "Myra Maynes" and the phone number is the local funeral home. Yeah yeah, I'm a 12 yr old at heart, but I did get the giggles thinking about them calling a funeral home and asking to speak to Myra Maynes (My Remains)

Not only do they get to pay the postage, they get to waste their time calling a bogus number.

Anonymous said...

I got the same letter today. Thank you for blogging this. I've found some very specific professions targeted for such a "consideration". To the shred it is for this p.o.c. solicitation!

Whirley said...

Boy you would think I would know better. I actually believe in teh concept of networking pre-screened accomplished professionals so may be what I thought as initially valuable plus a body of work that was somewhat credible as "worthy" conditioned me to buy in to what is obviously a scam. I even offered to help them improve their site from a collection of past deed-doers to present vibrant networks (think Linked In). They - always nice by the way - responded that they were doing a survey last July. Now many months later no visible proof of that exists. I can't help but ask if any one has gotten a refund or put legal pressure on them as it certainly seems illegal.

Bill

Anonymous said...

Great stuff! I too received a letter from Cambridge. Prior to reading the numerous blogs that point out the shortcomings of these "programs" (Ha! I just laughed out loud), I guessed that it was a joke from a clever friend. Now I'm pretty sure that it is, at a minimum, a "company" (and I use that term loosely) that knows nothing about customer satisfaction or honest business, or, more likely, a couple of innovative young entrepreneurs (again - loosely) who have found a loop-hole in the current justice system structure. Thanks for putting the good word out. I've created a MySpace profile for anyone who wants to help fight back. See it here... http://www.myspace.com/fightingwhoswho

Anonymous said...

I have to say thanks for this blog. I just got off the phone with them for my "interview". I just wanted the free stuff.. and I must have said no over hundred times. Geez they are pushy. But I still didn't cave and I am super glad that I didn't.

Thanks again!

Anonymous said...

Amazing, they gave me the exact same story line - "softened" me up, life time for $800, five year for $450, then (getting impatient) a 3 year special price reserved only for "charities", and finaly, just before hanging up, a one year program. I'll stay with LinkedIn.

Suzanne said...

Just in time. I was ON THE PHONE with Cambridge when I thought to Google them and stumbled onto your post. A client called, so I rudely hung up on them. I get these letters all the time and just ignore them (must be all the credit card debt -- they think I'm a stooge -- should there be a "debtors who's who" or "most likely to be fleeced who's who"?), but for some reason I responded to this one. It's the word Cambridge. Maybe if they include me in their Who's Who I can go to Harvard...

Craig Hysell said...

I knew I smelled a rat. These clowns have been harrassing me for months. So, today I started doing some investigating.

You're not the only one with this opinion, you've just done the best research.

Thanks for all the info. It seems plenty of us out there appreciate it.

Anonymous said...

I just want to say "Thank you" for posting this information. I, too, my self just received the letter for the 2008/2009 Cambridge Who's Who Among Executive and Professional Women. At first, I thought how it would be a good thing to be listed on this "Honors Edition"; however, I started thinking to my self how did they come up with my name and information, so I decided Google the company and I came across your article. Again, Thank you. The letter is now in the recycle bin.

rptrcub said...

I love Google, because people have the power now to find out immediately about scams! Thanks for the help--I thought it was a scam but I wanted to get other opinions, too.

Anonymous said...

Well, I got my letter today. Actually not "my own" letter but addressed to my pseudonym I use when writing certain types of fiction. And also receiving certain types of email newsletters, such as killerplants.com.

The letter was addressed to Olivia Linde. She writes romantic historical fiction. Or she would if she wasn't busy doing other things.

Since this is a fictitious person I was briefly tempted to invent a fictitious professional life.
Actually, after reading your post I have considered inventing my profession as working for the FBI as an investigator of Internet scams.( Heh, heh.)

This Cambridge scam must have gotten my email from a recent poetry contest I entered. Or perhaps Killerplants.com.

My final thought about these people is that they are getting income in various ways and one way is to sell their mailing list that so many people are will to give them for free by filling out the basic information card.

Really, people! Stop giving out your personal information. Also, stop entering poetry contests, that's my advice to Olivia Linde...

Renee said...

Got my Cambridge letter yesterday, and I want to THANK YOU so much for this information before I had to go thru all the b.s. It's now in the circular file!

Chris said...

yeah, just got my cambridge letter! im in the club!! I cant wait for the world recognition for being such an accomplished professional 22 year old college student who sits around and smokes pot all day!

Dustin said...

Glad this was here. I was seriously thinking about filling this stupid thing out. Thought I would google it first just to see if it was a scam. Thank you.

Sarah said...

Thank you for your info - I thought it seemed fishy and googled the organization and found a host of websites with warnings.

Anonymous said...

HAHA, I just received my "exclusive invite" today, with a postcard to fill out asking for my phone number, email and what type of business I am in. The editor in Chief is now a
M. Foster

Began For Marr said...

They must have just sent a mass mailing because I got mine as well.

Just one question, where do they get our information from?

Anonymous said...

God. I worked there. I can't even begin to tell you all the scams that went on. I would lisaten to the sales people and their hard-sell tactics, then hear them get off the phone saying how stupid that person was they just sold a book to.

And they don't treat their employees much better. Whenever they can, they'll try and not pay unemployment by saying the person was "insubordinate". They dock you if you're a minute or two late, monitor your bathroom time, and crowd everyone together in a office that's a fire hazard. The boss, Narod, is a loud, slick saleman, who always seems like he's on coke and rumor has it that he is.

What a pit. Glad I'm out!

Anonymous said...

I can't believe this is still going on. I just got off the phone with Biltmore Who's Who. She really had me roped in until she asked for 800 bucks. I smelled scam (especially when she started lowering the price and throwing in plane tickets)and told her I had to see a patient. So far I've gotten two callbacks on my cell -- no messages! Surprise! I was Google-ing while I was on the phone with her and confirmed my suspicions. Like a previous poster said, I don't think it's illegal, but definitely not worth the money, at least for me. --CK

Anonymous said...

I was also surprised to find that Biltmore is a member of the BBB, with only 27 complaints. Of course, there is no indication of how long the company has been in existence. I couldn't find Cambridge or Emerald on there at all -- maybe they morphed into Biltmore! -- CK

Jill said...

I just got ~THE ALMIGHTY CALL~ Friday at work. To be honest, the woman "seemed legitimate".
However, when I asked her who had actually "nominated" me she hesitated and re-directed the question...
***BUYER BEWARE***

Anonymous said...

JUST received this call at work from Cambridge! I told the woman, who did sound legit that I didn't need to BUY professional credibility! How ridiculous! We should start our own Who's Who of people who they have tried to scam, but couldn't!

Anonymous said...

I was just called by the saleswoman trying to sell me an $800 platinum membership, but I was leery and didn't fall for it. I just now checked them out online and found your blog. Everything happened as you said it would! Boy, I'm glad I didn't fork over the money. What a scam!

Anonymous said...

Got the note in the mail...I'm so thankful that I found this blog! Shame on these people, I hope more people see this blog before they fill out anything.

Anonymous said...

I just got one as well, I put the words Not Interested on it and sent it back. After all it is postage prepaid . ;)

I guess are going to see Not Interested moving up in the world!

Tara B said...

To all the scammed out there I offer you this vindication for being defrauded.....while I am not able to offer you your money back...they have always said that laughter is the best medicine. So heres hoping you all get a great laugh.

Before I tell you about MY phone call let me just qualify myself (and please don’t think I am bragging…it is just background). When I got my email (the one that the phone call was in response to) it came to my work email address and hit all the red flags. Not only did my spam filter start ringing the sirens but the flags in my head went off too. See I had received the Cambridge Who letter several years ago and at the time I thought it was legit. I am actually a successful person, back then I was running my own profitable executive career services/placement agency….ran in all the upper executive circles….and had all the “right connections” in my address book. I didn’t stop to think “hey that is kinda funny that I am being nominated by a listing up north since I live and work in Dallas and have never even been to Mass” but you know we all have our moments of stupidity right? Well it wasn’t a total brain fart as I am very tight with my money and when they wanted almost $1200 from me I nixed the venture very quickly. When the first letter came way back then I just assumed that one of my clients had been so thrilled with the work I had done that they sent my name in for nomination. Ok so flash forward to about a week ago. I open my email and head over to clean out my spam folder when what do my little eyes behold??? I have now been nominated to the Madison Who….how fortunate for me (dripping with sarcasm) and since I had been experiencing a particularly rough week what with my three year old discovering that it is fun to punch her 7 month old brother in the face and watch him scream…and my 7 month old already screaming non-stop due to the two teeth he has coming in at the same time; I thought I would have a little fun at their expense. So I went to the website, filled in the form, and patiently waited for the ill-fated call that I knew would soon follow. Hee hee hee hee……below is a recap of the conversation which ensued. Please pardon the typos as I am sure I will be laughing hystarically as I type this.

“Hello, may I please speak with Tara B”

“This is she”

“Good afternoon Ms. B….my name is Curtis J and I am calling you on behalf of the Madison Who’s Who. I am very excited to inform you that you have been nominated to be part of our upcoming list of most influential executives and young professionals.”

“Yes, thank you, I am very excited! I understand that this is quite an honor!”

“Yes maim it is. I just have a few questions for you so that we can fill in the blank spots in your biography and then I will explain how everything works. This will only take a few minutes.”

“Alright”

“First, can you tell me about your professional background and experience?”

“Oh sure. Well lets see, I opened my own executive services and placement company back in 2000 which I successfully ran for over five years. In 2005 I was given the chance of a lifetime to rejoin an old friend at the company he owns with two other people, I began my tenure with **company** in October of 05 and have been here ever since. I am head of the sales division for both corporate accounts as well as government initiatives, have personally brought in over $10 million dollars worth of accounts since I joined **company** and a little over a year ago I was asked to take over the fortune 50 alliances and affiliations position so in addition to overseeing the entire sales force here at **company** I also am responsible for building professional relationships with the top companies in the nation.”

“Wonderful! That is quite an impressive resume. Now tell me about any professional or community groups you are affiliated with.”

“Um ok. Well let’s see…..I volunteer at my church for both the Career Circuit and Women with a Voice ministries, hold chamber of commerce memberships in Dallas, Plano, Irving, Addison, Fort Worth, and Coppell. Then I am also a member of EWTL which stands for Executive Women Technology Leaders, Circle of Influence, The Mommies Network, a Girl Scout of America alumni, and a member of Theta Nu Xi which is a professional sorority.”

“Wow it sounds like you are very active in your community. That is excellent. Congratulations Ms. B….I believe you are perfect for our list; and the benefits of being included in our online directory will prove to be a valuable networking tool for you I am sure. Let me explain what is going to happen next and go over a few formalities with you. The membership works like this”

Do you mind if I paraphrase here….I think we all know the drill….blah blah blah….give us money……blah blah blah. Once he is all done telling me about the riches and spoils that will be granted to me with only a tiny investment on my part, he goes in for the kill…………hee hee hee and so do I:

“Now Ms. B., I would advise you to sign up for a lifetime membership as that will secure your place in our directory from now on and you wouldn’t have to worry about remembering to renew. The lifetime membership fee is ONLY $1350.00 which is a small price to pay for the wealth of connections and business relationships you will gain from being listed.”

“Hmmm….that seems a little steep. That is twice as much as I pay for just one of my chamber memberships and with the chamber I get to interact with other professionals face to face at monthly events and gatherings. I don’t know…”

“Well if you don’t think the lifetime membership is right for you we also have a five year membership for $750.00 but keep in mind that when it is time to renew, your renewal fee will be what the current membership fee at that time is. It is better to go with the lifetime membership as you are paying a one time only fee of $1350.00 which will save you a great deal in the long run.”

“The one time fee does sound like the wiser choice. And all I have to pay is the $1350.00?”

“For the membership, yes. Now we also have a plaque which will commemorate your listing as a Who’s Who and that is $200.00....most inductees prefer to order that so that they may proudly display the achievement in their office. We will also send you a leather-bound edition of the published list with your name and biography for $199.00 each. I am sure that you will want to order one for yourself and a copy for your loved ones to share in this honor with you. In addition we would like to send you a pair of complimentary airline tickets which will permit you and a guest to travel round trip to anywhere in the world. The charge today would cover everything...your membership fee, plaque, and special print editions of the publication; so that would bring your total to $1977.95 including a small shipping fee of $29.95. We accept all major credit cards. I’ll take your card information from you whenever you are ready.”

“Oh you mean I have to pay right now?”

“Yes maim, in order for us to ensure that you are included in the upcoming list I will need to secure your payment and submit your biographical information today as we are on a short deadline and rushing to get everyone in before everything is sent to the printers.”

“Oh well then that could be a problem. My credit card accounts have been frozen along with my bank accounts until the IRS completes their investigation into some unreported income that came up during a recent incident.”

“An incident maim? I am afraid I don’t follow…”

“Well during the police investigation into the accidental shooting that killed my husband they discovered that there were some discrepancies in our finances and reported it to the IRS.”

“I am very sorry to hear about your husband…”
(I cut him off)

“Well thank you, but really it was his own fault…….I warned him at least a hundred times about walking around the house in the dark….that if he wasn’t careful I was going to end up shooting him. But you know how the police are……they naturally assumed that I must be lying and intended to murder him for the three million dollars in life insurance just because I was having an affair with his sister. And well everything went down hill from there, they came with a warrant to search the house and that is when they found the drugs and lab where we were cooking stuff and so now I am just waiting for the trial. Really I don’t understand how they could think I would have killed him, I mean sure I couldn’t stand the idiot but murder?? I swear I couldn’t tell it was him when I pulled the trigger. Thank God for small blessings though….at least I still have my job! And I have to admit that I was a little surprised by the nomination….I thought certainly everything would have shown up in my background when you guys checked me out. After all my name has been all over the news here for over a year now.”

“Are you screwing with me lady?”

^at that comment I start to sound a little offended in a mob kinda way^
“Young man, I am a woman who has been accused of murder and running one of the most productive meth houses in Dallas. Does that strike you as the kind of person who ‘screws’ with people?”

“uh…..uh…….uh”

“Oh goodness, I hope I didn't speak out of turn and say something that is going to keep me from making the list………I am still going to be on the list right? I mean I can send you a money order or something…….Give Me Your Address.”

*click* - line goes dead……

Strangest thing……..somehow we were disconnected and he never called back. Hahahahahahaha……. Okay I admit that was really cruel and yeah I had to pray that Sunday for forgiveness after making up such a wild tale. I mean after all I did sit there and tell the boy that my husband had been murdered by my own hand (in case you are worried…….my husband is alive and well snoring loudly in bed next to me as I type) and imply that I was mixing up batches of lethal drugs to sell to little kids who will go home and OD or go out and kill some innocent bystandard while hopped up. But I am sure that God has a sense of humor and surely must have seen the amusement in my actions. And really I think I should be commended……..I successfully managed to keep a straight face through out the entire conversation while my boss and the other two owners sat across my desk with tears rolling down their cheeks and holding their stomachs because the effort to keep their roaring laughter at a volume that it wouldn’t be heard was becoming painful. Boy I just can’t wait till I get my next email letting me know that once again I am being recognized for my outstanding professional achievements and heartfelt contributions to my community, and that the honor of that recognition only requires me to pay a tiny one time fee of a couple of grand.
I hope everyone out there who suffered the embarrassment of naivety and the financial burden of being scammed found my little act of retaliation pleasing or at least a little amusing if nothing else.
Till the next call………Ciao Tara

The-mommacat said...

I am Soooo glad that I googled these guys while I had them on the phone! I was skeptical in hearing her pitch! But as I was reading more and more of these posts I am very glad that I was a skeptic!

They were trying to get the "lifetime" platinum out of me. Good thing that I'm on a fixed and very tight budget right now!

I guess if it sounds too good to be true it really is!

Thanks for all the info here! This is great

Meg said...

I can not believe how many people have commented on this! I wish I had read this about an hour ago, BEFORE I got the phone call from the "Cambridge Who's Who of gullible people"! They just sounded so convincing and before I knew it I was giving out my credit card number. After getting off the phone I started to feel like I had been scammed and sure enough, I came upon your blog and realized I had been. So I quickly called my credit card company and stopped the payment. Thanks for the warning!

Victoria Strauss said...

Well, I guess it had to happen--I just got an email solicitation from Madison Who's Who. Guess they didn't Google me.

Anonymous said...

I can't thank you enough for posting information about Cambridge Who's Who. As sucked into that heady feeling of (self) importance that i most certainly felt, I decided to google who they were first. Again, thank you for saving me from myself and most importantly, Cambridge Who's Who!!

Anonymous said...

holy crap!! I just read the email from Tara B! That is hilarious! I used to work for these creeps, but not in sales. Sorry, I needed the money. I had no idea (I wasn't there long!) that they charged so much. How is this guy still ion business.

Thanks for the laugh, Tara!

kathleen said...

Thanks for this blog. My just-arrived invitation to be included in Cambridge Who's Who is going straight to the shredder which will go to my rabbit's litter-box, then on to my compost pile and in a few weeks into my vegetable and flower garden.

Anonymous said...

Just got one from Biltmore.. will assume it's fake too. Thanks for the info.

Lindsey said...

I just received a letter from Cambridge yesterday. I found your blog when I was trying to find out more about them. So glad I did!! Something about this letter struck me as odd and "rehearsed". Keep up the good work!

Melissa said...

I just received my Cambridge Who's Who letter today... it seems that I'm being considered for inclusion in the Who's Who Among Executive and Professional Women registry. This is quite the accomplishment for a 21 year-old college drop out like me, working 2 minimum wage jobs just to make the rent... Perhaps they should research a little more beforehand...

Teacher said...

I just removed any reference to being included in the supposed book.

Thankfully I didn't purchase anything from them.

Anonymous said...

I, too, am among the many who am glad that I found this posting before I 'gave away the farm'. These professional organizations are new for me and I was very excited to have gotten 'recognized for my accomplishments' when I got the letter from Cambridge last week.
I was offered membership for prices ranging from $189 to upwards of almost $1000, free airline tickets and of course, all the awesome 'benefits' which come with being a member.
I passed on the opportunity.

Anonymous said...

I'm filling out the application card with a big "shame on you" and other less repeatable phrases. Why not let them pay the postage to let me tell them what I think of their scamminess. Keep up the good work and maybe someday we will rid the world of these lowlifes!

Anonymous said...

Tara, when I grow up, I want to be just like you.

Anonymous said...

Thanks so much for your blog and to all of the others who commented. I could tell it was a scam, but I just wanted the proof, when I found your blog. I will definitely mail back the blank postcard so they have to pay for the postage. Thanks

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