In late October 2022, we looked into an email scam that claimed to the recipient, "You Have Been Selected," and said the purported selection was for the person to be included in the annual publication, "Who's Who in America." Readers are advised to not click any links in this or any other similar messages, as it did not come from Marquis Who's Who, the publisher of "Who's Who in America."
We received a detailed statement from Marquis Who's Who about these kinds of scammers and have printed the message in full at the end of this article.
Sorry, You Haven't Been Selected
One example of the scam that we reviewed showed the suspicious email address "info_iytDUQfx4l@loykffthgo.linenight.com via pbpfzhxa.spiritmuch.com." This was not an email address that was associated with the publisher.
The top of the email message said, "Join today's achievers in Who's Who!" The rest of the message was one giant image of text, which can sometimes be a red flag that an email is a scam. The text in the image said, "This letter serves to inform you that you being considered for inclusion in the next edition of 'Who's Who in America!'"
The email was signed at the bottom as supposedly coming from Marquis Who's Who. A button read, "Accept this honor. Click here." However, again, this was a scam. Marquis Who's Who had no part in the scam.
It's a Phishing Scam
We ran the main link in the email through IP Quality Score's malicious URL scanner.
The results of the scan said that the email led to malware, and that the link was confirmed to be a phishing URL.
The History of Marquis Who's Who
The Marquis Who's Who website says the publication's history goes back to the 19th century:
Established in 1898, Marquis Who’s Who promptly began publishing biographical data in 1899. Since then, Marquis has remained the standard for reliable and comprehensive biographical data. Each year, we strive to continue the tradition established by company founder, Albert Nelson Marquis, more than 120 years ago with the first publication of Who’s Who in America.
The family of Marquis Who’s Who publications presents unmatched coverage of the lives of today’s leaders and achievers from the United States and around the world, and from every significant field of endeavor. Librarians, students, researchers, corporate executives, journalists, personnel recruiters, and many others rely on Marquis Who’s Who every day for in-depth biographical information they can use with confidence.
Marquis Who's Who Responds
After we contacted Marquis Who's Who about the scam, we received a lengthy response from the company's CEO, Erica Lee. We have chosen to publish that response in its entirety:
In 2023, we will be coming upon our 125th year anniversary, so one can imagine how many companies we have seen come and go claiming to be Marquis Who’s Who. We have been working tirelessly to differentiate ourselves from imposters and imitators for years. This is an issue that we take extraordinary seriously and we have been working with Federal Authorities providing them with hundreds of complaints and affidavits from Marquis Listees who have purported to be duped by copycats.
We have thus far been able to assist in the evidence gathering and subsequent closure of Remington Registry (https://www.justice.gov/usao-edny/pr/southampton-woman-pleads-guilty-elder-fraud-scheme) and we are in the midst of closing in on another bad actor. Not long ago, we were notified that one of these companies formed a New York Corporation, Marquis Press Incorporated and they have been contacting and billing individuals under this name in an effort to further confuse the public and sully our reputation. We sent an cease and desist letter and since requested assistance of their registered agent to track down the owner of this Corporation to pursue all legal avenues.
Please be assured that Marquis continues to maintain the tradition of excellence established by our founder, Albert Nelson Marquis, with the first publication of Who's Who in America in 1899. That mission is to profile those individuals who have made a difference by virtue of the positions of responsibility they hold and/or due to noteworthy accomplishments they have made. We were also recently quoted in an AARP Article about the subject: “How to Spot a Who’s Who Scam” https://www.aarp.org/money/scams-fraud/info-10-2012/beware-the-whos-who-directory-scam.html.
As you may be aware, there is no cost to be included, as listees are researched and vetted, so they cannot purchase their way into Marquis. This means we do NOT cold call. Candidates must complete an application before they are considered for inclusion in Marquis. We appreciate you calling attention to this matter, if a candidate questions the validity of any email sent to them, they should feel free to contact our customer inquiry department at 908-279-0100 or firstname.lastname@example.org, and we will certainly verify the validity of their invitation. Most notably, we send many of our applications to our qualified candidates by direct mail as well.
What truly sets Marquis apart is the process after the application has been received. The completed applications are returned to us directly through our application management system and the content provided by the candidate is reviewed for qualifications purposes. As we are a highly selective organization, we reject 65% of all applications processed through e-mail before they move to our phone interview. If a candidate moves through to the phone interview, they will speak with one of our New Submissions Directors who will reference biographical information entered on the application. Qualified candidates, are additionally re-reviewed through our research and editorial process.
These other companies do not maintain the same qualifications and verification process. Unfortunately, in most cases they simply dupe the customer out of money without delivering any product or value.
We have taken steps to posting a letter calling attention to fraudulent companies and unaffiliated companies on our corporate portal and emailing this letter to our Listees. In addition, we provide our Listees with unique VIP/Biog numbers, if the representative on the phone is unable to read this unique number back to them, they are NOT part of Marquis. Also, there are vague buzz words and phrases that these Companies will use:
a) “I am calling from the Shipping Department” – we will NEVER call from the Shipping Department
b) “I am calling from Who’s Who” or “We are calling from your Who’s Who” - without specifying Marquis Who’s Who or referencing Who’s Who in America
c) “This is Who’s Who Directories” – we are NOT Who’s Who Directories
d) “We are calling about your package” - We will always state our name when calling our Listees.
We encourage our Listees to look at their credit card statements, if their statement doesn’t say “Marquis Who’s Who” or “Who’s Who in America” this is NOT us. We will continue to work with Federal Authorities as we have for years, aggregate complaints/affidavits, and keep our Listees informed until the last of these Companies are put out of business for good.
“About.” Marquis Who’s Who, https://marquiswhoswho.com/about.
Gillis, Alexander S. “What Is Phishing? How It Works and How to Prevent It.” TechTarget via SearchSecurity, https://www.techtarget.com/searchsecurity/definition/phishing.
“Malicious URL Scanner.” IP Quality Score, https://www.ipqualityscore.com/threat-feeds/malicious-url-scanner.