There’s a new solicitation doing the rounds. It’s from United Writers Organization, which describes itself as a “leading professional organization” for writers and publishers, and it delivers exciting news: you’ve been nominated for an award! A “complimentary nomination certificate” is yours for the asking–you don’t even have to pay! Although of course it would be nice if you became a UWO member, which will cost you a mere $99.
Of course this is a scam–the out of the blue solicitation is a big clue, as are the language and grammar mistakes and telltale info from UWO’s domain registration–just 7 days old as of this writing, somewhat contradicting “Est. 1957” in the UWO logo.
Plus you’d think that a “largest and leading” writers’ organization would have a bit more name recognition–or at least that a Google search would turn up more than a single page of results. As for that prestigious awards program, supposedly in existence for 31 years, Google has nary a listing.
But that’s only the start of the fakery for this scam. Repeated calls to its phone number over the past two days yielded only an automated “owner of this number is not available” message. There’s no Kensington Theatre at the West Houston Street address where the awards supposedly will be presented–in fact, per a search of New York City property records, that address does not appear to exist. And virtually the entire UWO website–which has clearly been hastily slapped up via a crappy WIX template–has been plagiarized…from a real “largest and leading professional organization for writers and publishers”, the Authors Guild.
The first clue, from UWO’s home page:
Oops. Second rule of Plagiarism Club: you’ve gotta file off ALL the serial numbers.
More (but by no means all):
What about the 31st PERPETUAL EAGLE AWARDS, with its impressive list of sponsors, including Time Magazine and Rolex? Beyond the fact that it’s less the 31st than the 1st, given that its parent organization didn’t exist a week ago, its description has also been plagiarized–though from different sources: a mashup of text from the Next Generation Indie Book Awards website and an awards resource on the Bookbub website (from which UWO has copied outdated information about agent Marilyn Allen’s collaboration with the Next Generation awards). Based on phrase searches, even UWO’s pathetically bogus blog entries have been plagiarized from a variety of authors.
So what are the scammers behind UWO hoping to get out of what’s one of the more brazen, but also slipshod and clumsy, scams I’ve come across recently? The $99 “membership fee” would be an obvious assumption–most likely as a way to draw writers in so they can be pressured to buy fraudulent services.
But there is actually no way to pay on the UWO website. And that’s not the only lack of functionality. My attempt to sign up on the Registration page yielded a “we’ll be in touch” message–but so far, no contact. Even the chat function doesn’t work: my message vanished almost as soon as I typed it in.
I have a feeling that UWO won’t exist long enough for me to figure it out. If I do, I’ll let you know. In the meantime, beware of fake writers’ organizations bearing fake awards.
UPDATE 2/9/23: Scammers are among my most devoted readers. How do I know this? Well, it’s no accident that the country from which I get the most visitors, after the USA, is the Philippines. Multiple scammers have canned warnings about me that they pass on to writers who question them about info they’ve found here; one scammer has an entire section of its training manual devoted to me. Sometimes they leave me little love notes. And sometimes, after I publish a blog post, they change their websites.
Yesterday evening, I paid a visit to UWO to see if anything had changed. And, magically, it had. Almost all of the plagiarized Authors Guild material has been removed (some still remains, but if I don’t say where it is maybe the dummies at UWO won’t figure it out), and replaced with…other plagiarized material from other professional associations, including the Writers Union of Canada (UWO content / WUC content), the International Association of Screenwriters (UWO content / Int’l Association content–scroll down to the bottom), and the National Association of Science Writers. I’ll only torture you with one screenshot (the big clue: “healthy exchange of views and opinions in science”, duh).
Well played, UWO morons. Well played.
There’s still no payment functionality on the website, but I signed up with one of my burner names and got this response:
I confirmed that UWO does have a Paypal account. So it looks like they may well be collecting money from unwary writers.