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Spam or Scam, or Both?

A confusing message landed in my inbox today. Apparently Lynn DT Hershberger is thought (by at least one computer database) to be the name of a Computer Training Company. It is my personal name, which once upon a time was listed in the yellow pages under Computer Training.

For the record, I sold the domain name for my computer consulting business in spring of 2004 (I used a fabricated/assumed business name, not my personal name). I have not been in a yellow pages ad (as a computer trainer) for at least two or three phone books now, and the last several of those years I was listed under the assumed/business name rather than my own.

The only computer work I do these days, is a few hours a week during the school year for Haslett Community ed. I teach retirees (for the most part) how to do relatively basic things such as surf the web, type letters, save documents and print.

Back in 1999, I fully made my living as a Y2K consultant. I’m no longer supporting myself in the computer consulting/training business.

These days, I’m an artist who mostly teaches knitting and polymer clay; who designs knitting patterns and dyes a bit of yarn; who sings quite a bit and dances a little. That is my current job description, just for the record.

So now check out this email I got today. “The Selection Committee” says I can buy an award plaque for my wall, you understand… but do you see for what?


From: “Selection Committee” <contact@uslba.net>
To: Lynn @ Color….com
Date: 19 Aug 2008 11:23:39 -0700
Subject: Lynn D T Hershberger Receives 2008 Best of Lansing Award
I am pleased to announce that Lynn D T Hershberger has been selected for the 2008 Best of Lansing Award in the Computer Training category by the U.S. Local Business Association (USLBA).
In recognition of your achievement, a 2008 Best of Lansing Award plaque has been designed for display at your place of business. You may arrange to have your award sent directly to Lynn D T Hershberger by following the simple steps on the 2008 Best of Lansing Award order form. Simply copy and paste this link into your browser to access the order form:
The USLBA “Best of Local Business” Award Program recognizes outstanding local businesses throughout the country. Each year, the USLBA identifies companies that we believe have achieved exceptional marketing success in their local community and business category. These are local companies that enhance the positive image of small business through service to their customers and community.

Also, a copy of the press release publicizing the selection of Lynn D T Hershberger is posted on the USLBA website. USLBA hereby grants Lynn D T Hershberger a non-exclusive, royalty-free license to use, reproduce, distribute, and display this press release in any media formats and through any media channels.

In order to provide you with the best possible service, you have been assigned an award code that can be used on our website for quick access to your award information and press release. If you have any questions or comments, please include this code with your correspondence.

Your award code is: 9EHFJGH

Ashley Carter

Selection Committee Chair

U.S. Local Business Association

p.s. If the links are not working in this email please copy and paste the following URLs into your browser:

Award Order Form: https://www.uslba.net/A9EHFJGH

Press Release: https://www.uslba.net/P9EHFJGH

The intended recipient of this notification is the Marketing Director for Lynn D T Hershberger. If you have received this email in error please forward it to the intended recipient. If you do not wish to receive further advertisements from USLBA, please mail a written request to: US Local Business Association, 2020 Pennsylvania Ave, NW, Suite #742, Washington, DC 20006 or simply click to opt-out.


When I go to their website I am informed that I need not join the organization to acquire the pictured award, but I need to pay for the plaque. Which funds all sorts of great vague things… blah blah blah.

So be careful, my friends, don’t believe someone thinks you are wonderful if you get one of these messages. They perhaps think your plaque payment is wonderful? It is just a guess, on my part.

They are based in Washington, DC. That means anyone in any city could get this note, with their name plugged in. This is why I decided to talk about it on this blog, where usually things are pretty cheerful.

For the record… I did “opt out” so they would not send me more junk email. I also contacted the BBB Online. I let the organization which sent the email know of my BBB contact. And that I would be talking about their email on my website. They are fully informed at this point, about who Lynn DT Hershberger really is. The person. Me.

I would have loved a real award, of course. This one makes my tummy hurt.

I will have a happier post tomorrow, OK?

(For the record, I’m adding this note on 3/27/2010. Ironically, this old post is getting spam comments unrelated to any of the content other than they are all nonsense. I am going to close comments on this post because of that.)

8 Responses to “Spam or Scam, or Both?”

  1. Sharon Says:

    This is very similar to the Who’s Who scams that plague teachers and the poetry contests targeted to students. Every year I would have several parents who wanted to submit their child’s poem to this contest. I would explain that all the poems would “win” and be published in a book. Then parents would be invited to purchase the book for around $50. This is not a contest; it’s a way to get money from people. Just like your plaque. Most parents understood and were glad to know the real scoop. I had one parent once who was incensed that I would not endorse her son’s poem for publication. I offered to find legitimate contests for him to enter. She removed the kid from my class because she was so mad at me. My head ached over that one! Oh well.

  2. David Says:

    I just got one of these too.

    “I am pleased to announce that Raleigh Little Theatre has been selected for the 2008 Best of Raleigh Award in the Theatres category by the U.S. Local Business Association (USLBA).”


  3. Bob Smith Says:

    Copiers Plus, Inc received one of these too. We beleive we deserve it but what can I say. “Best of Fayetteville 2008 Copiers”

  4. Anna E. Demmel Says:

    We also received this message. We can’t all be the best can we. Shame on them.

  5. Kerry Cunningham Says:

    I am pleased to announce that Kangaroo Blue has been selected for the 2008 Best of Plainfield Award in the Bath Equipment & Supplies category by the U.S. Local Business Association (USLBA).

    WHAT !!! We do not even sell Bath Equipment & Supplies …. so much for researching us!!! What a scam.

  6. celsius Says:

    a client of mine got one recently. it’s interesting to see spammers playing on the positive (awards or plaques) rather than the negative (such as viagra or penis enlargement).

  7. Sky Says:

    We (Lutheran Church in Austin, Texas) received one as well but they didn’t quite get the spelling correct:

    I am pleased to announce that Lord of Life Lutehran Church has been selected for the 2008 Best of Austin Award in the Places of Worship category by the U.S. Local Business Association (USLBA).

    Yes……, we are so accustomed to the spammers constant inability to spell we can almost recognize them with our eyes closed…..

  8. Anonymous Says:

    a possible mail fraud letter is being sent to san diego county residents from 2020 pennsylvania ave nw mail drop 742.  please turn in this gold colored letter in to postal inspectors. the premise of the letter is that you have won an award but have to pay for the plaque.  am i correct with the above? no business name on envelope just street address. scam complaints have been filed against this business. a tampering with mail paragraph appears on the outside of the envelope in bottom right corner.