Princeton Premier: Bad marketing or vanity scam?

Princeton University

Princeton.

Americans immediately think of Princeton University, the Ivy League, or possibly the Princeton Review.

They probably don’t think of Princeton Premier, a company you’ve never heard of that claims to be “the most interactive online business community in the world today.”

I first learned about Princeton Premier yesterday when I received the following email:

Subject: Patrick Byers’s Recent Nomination Into The Princeton Premier

Patrick Byers

It is my pleasure to inform you that you are being considered for inclusion into the 2009-2010 Princeton Premier Business Leaders and Professionals Honors Edition section of the registry.

The 2009-2010 edition of the registry will include biographies of the world’s most accomplished individuals. Recognition of this kind is an honor shared by thousands of executives and professionals throughout the world each year. Inclusion is considered by many as the single highest mark of achievement.

You may access our application form using the following link: (link goes to a generic form on formsite.com without any information pre-filled)

Upon final confirmation, you will be listed among other accomplished individuals in the Princeton Premier Registry.

For accuracy and publication deadlines, please complete your application form and return it to us within five business days.

There is no cost to be included in the registry.

If you’ve already received this email from us, there is no need to respond again.

This email serves as our final invitation to potential members who have not yet responded.

On behalf of the Executive Publisher, we wish you continued success.

Sincerely,

Jason Harris
Managing Director
Princeton Premier

This offer from Princeton Premier complies with 15 U.S.C. §§ 7701-13
_____________________________________________
Click the following link to update your information or stop future mailings. (link goes to an unbranded Admail.net email unsubscription form)
_____________________________________________

Lots of red flags here:

  • Email was text-based without any actual links to the company
  • Contact form without contact information
  • Marketing puffery on their website
  • Amateurish identity and design
  • Outdated copy on website
  • Use of unbranded email templates and database tools

Bad marketing, but how is it a vanity scam?

Well, a little more sleuthing will tell you that inclusion in Princeton Premier’s directories are meaningless, and this is indeed another vanity scam.

The phone numbers (and names associated) have changed several times, and sometimes the calls terminate at an answering service in India and/or Saudi Arabia.

The real goal of Princeton Premier is to sell upgrades to your free listing. Prices for these upgrades apparently range from $100 to $800—all for the right to be included in a directory assembled by vanity scammers.

Where do I sign up?

On another note, I wonder what Princeton University or the Princeton Review respond things like this. Their brand is being sullied—not a good thing.

So, have you received an “offer” like this one? And how do you think this makes legitimate marketers look?

Comment below to share.

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Photo: Princeton University

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  • Well, fortunately I’m suspicious at the first, so I goggle’ing the “Princeton Premier” and found this blog.
    They sent me many e-mails, and I just don’t have time to open it :p
    and once I open it, i was suspicious, so, I search information about this networking.

    This is the link website that tehy gave : http://www.formdesk.com/pgn2/New
    I klik it, but not fill-in (fortunately).

    This email sent by this address : frankthomas1121@gmail.com (they said it ‘Global Network’).

    and thanks to this blog to, I found out that “presdential Who’s Whos” also a scam.

    Well … I hope your US Government do something about this site. It’s spread all over into Asia :p

  • Seth

    They sent this garbage to an address that was clearly scraped off a web site. That increases the penalties for spamming; now if only NY’s Attorney General could be interested in dealing with them.

  • Traci D

    I was very suspicious of the over kill of flattery! I have not been in advertising that long however I knew enough to know that such a establishment as Princeton would not have such a dismal setup nor would it be so casual. I am glad others felt the responsibility to post their views on this matter and I hope as a group, we all continue to look out for each other and the “new guys”.

  • Thank goodness I googled Princeton Premeir before filling anything out. I work for a non profit that helps children with cancer and we’re often approached about different awards and acknowledgments.

    However, it is not uncommon to be preyed upon by scammers so I’m always hesitant to fill out anything before doing a little investigating.

    Hopefully someone is working to stop these jerks and using a cloak of an established institution like Princeton.

  • Simon C Graham

    Just an update on the dubious directory genre: My work email address has worked itself down, or perhaps up the food chain to ‘Continental Who’s Who’ who promise me inclusion in their esteemed ‘Inner Circle’. I am told I “quintessentially” meet the required standard of exceptional professional expertise. Well, perhaps I do, but a quick search suggests this has been the same deal as Princeton Premier etc for a couple of years.

    The professional-looking site is at http://cwwsummit.com/.

    The email domain is @cwwsummit.com and you can see known derivatives at http://spamnation.info/go/domain/continentalwhoswho.com

  • Neil Hepburn

    I too received this wonderful email and immediately began to blush with all the flattery that they were shoveling. . . ya right. Anyhow, I did a whois search on the domain name mywhoswhoapplication99.com. The search returned a Payton Lowe as the administrative contact. I then googled “Payton Lowe” and found a press release (dated April 15, 2009) stating that a Payton Lowe and others have been charged by the Commodities Futures Trading Commission (CFTC) with running a forex ponzi scheme. I wonder if these two Payton Lowes are one in the same?

  • Hi,
    I’m a Compliance Officer for a major firm and I also run a small internet marketing company. We help very small home businesses and tiny companies get a foot hold with internet marketing and website development. From experience…

    The best thing to do is fill out a complaint with the FTC:
    https://www.ftccomplaintassistant.gov/

    After you get the FTC complaint filled online, send the complaint number to your state attorney general. Any attorney general can open a case but it takes about 5,000 complaints to get anyone interested in a spammer case. Each email violation is at least $200 with a sanction cap of about $2million. In nasty cases, the per email sanction can be as high as $16,000 and jail time can result.

    End result, your email is sold from the current bankrupt spammer to another spam entity… and the SPAM war continues.

  • Ole Holsti

    Glad I Googled this before filling in their questionnaire. I will file an FTC complaint.

  • LMAO

    thanks for posting this blog… it truly is very flattering to be invited, afterall I truly am a formidable businesswoman and the world deserves to know about me 😉

  • Charlotte Anne Bond

    I got this in my email today and figured it a scam, but thought I would investigate. I wasn’t even into being in Who’s Who in high school and more than twenty years later I doubt my vanity has gone up much in that area (however, I do spend far more on beauty products). I do feel sorry for those who fall for scams online. Particularly in these tough economic times where people may be more desperate for some quick fix to financial woes. Thank you for posting this blog. Shame on the louse who starts these scams.

  • John Earl

    I received an email from Mr Thomas and my suspisions were immediately aroused by the fact that he had a gmail email address. So I too “googled” the organisation and came to this blog. My reason for making this contribution is to say that one has to be alert to all sorts of scams. I was subject to another attempted scam that involved internet domain names. I am associated with a domain name “nogalesinternationalwastewater”, and I recently received an email from a domain name control company in China informing me that a certain gentleman in Hong Kong wanted to register a domain name “nogalesinternationalwastewater” with a .hk suffix. I was informed that if I thought this would harm my business I could protect the name. My first thought was why on earth should somebody in Hong Kong want to use such a domain name. Anyway, I smelt a rat so to speak and I asked if protecting the domain name would cost me a fee. Of course it was going to so I didnt progress it any further thinking good luck to the man in HK!

  • Long Art

    Thank you for this great blog and the big tip off. In this day and age of scammers and spammers, I am grateful to folks who take the time to warn the public. I can’t help but suspect the owners of this alleged prestigious organization who sells you canned air and fake business prominence, are nothing more than some Nigerian scammers who work out of those dumpy internet cafes. These guys have a great racket in sucking in lonely people on internet dating sites. Once sucked in, your bank account is sucked dry. Some of their other scams include a variety of great business opportunities that await you for a mere minimal investment. In return you are to reap millions of dollars, but in the end again you reap canned air. Buy a can of baked beans instead!

  • Sandy

    Oh yeah. This one and the International Honors Society and Who’s Who of whatever. Don’t these people have anything else to do with their time?

  • Thank you for your blog.

    I got it by fax this morning, then I Googled it. Read Consumer action website article and your blog.

    At this recession, people have many “business idea”…included balloon boy’s father…so sad…

    Anyway,thank you! Have a good one.

  • I just received a fax from them today but knew right away that it was a scam; into the “circular file” it went!

  • Dale Pinto

    I got sucked into this and now I want to stop getting billed for it. I went to their website but there is no email contact address and only a form that I duly completed but I am not sure if they will reply. I am from Australia and wondered how I might have this automatic billing stopped?

    Any assistance appreciated.

  • ramona maintanis

    they are the notorious Nigerian ponzi scheme spam artists

  • F Andrew

    It all started when I completed an online request to fill in my details so that I will be listed for FREE in their registrar thinking no harm doing that. Today, I received an international phone call (I am currently working in Beijing) from Richard Wellington (calling from the States) to congratulate me that I have been shortlisted! He spent at least 20 minutes on the phone interviewing me and allowed me to gloat… The last 5 minutes he spent telling me that all I need to do is to pay USD 600++ to upgrade to gold or platinum. Then to USD 200++ until he gave up and ended the call, albeit abruptly.
    What a scam!

  • They have up the ante a little bit. Now using different URLs. I got the email from info@evelynthany.com. I tried to view http://WWW.evelynthany.com but that was just a dummy Apache web page. I used http://www.networksolutions.com/whois-search/evelynthany.com
    to track the URL back to Princeton Premier. A quick Google got me to their web site, and then to yours.

    -John

  • Karen C.

    I got scammed and demanded a refund and threatened to sue. They are now called “Princeton Global Networks” and PU itself should be suing over their using their name and being such RIP-OFF artists. Never answer calls from their group of deviant rip-off artists (a landline traced to the Bronx, NYC) – 718-766-8626. What a bunch of desperate losers. I’m a smart woman with 2 masters degrees and somehow fell prey to this when I ws feeling low and professionally vulnerable.

    I threatened a Better Busines Bureau complaint and blogging. Worse comes to worse I will cancel my Visa card # and get a new one – what a pain. I can’t change my phone number but may be able to block them on my home number. Our phone company aNd police said they couldn’t do much. IF PRINCETON GLOBAL NETWORK CALLS YOU AND TELLS YOU THAT YOU HAVE BEEN CHOSEN FOR SOME HOKEY LIST, TELL THEM TO GO STRAIGHT TO HELL!!!

  • Beware

    They got my information off of careersbuilders.com. If you want to apply for a job, don’t do it on careers, go to the official website of the company and apply. Careerbuilders email me about scams on jobs.They harrassed me by calling me constantly. I end up threaten and cursing the guy over the phone because my husband an investigator and i’ll hunt you down. Then I reported them to the better business bureau. If you receive any phone like these: 313-528-6738..347-381-3748..don’t give in, and he had the nerve to call me @ 8;30pm. lol..wow desperate is not the word. 1-888-767-7548..it’s pre-paid phone, and there address is a P.O. Box..its a Major Scam.

  • DarkLegacy85

    They almost got me on nov. 2, 2011 at 9:00 am.
    But when i was asked what credit card i would like to use i told him i wasn’t giving him my number his reaction was” That’s Sad”
    And then he hung up.

    Caller’s Name – Doug Peters(He had a british accent)
    Caller ID Number – 347-381-3748
    If they ever call back again, they won’t like what i’ll have to say.

  • Sam Walton

    An Edward something called me from 718-285-0166 (without an appointment) and had a few questions around my career achievements, company goals etc., then congratulated me on having been accepted into their “elite club”. He then wanted to know how I would pay for a 5 year or a lifetime membership (some 600-800$), upon asking for a day or two to think about it he insisted I give out my credit card details over phone right that moment. I refused to do so and he hung up abruptly. Another scam!

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