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Who's Who Schemes (Cambridge, Manchester, Empire, Metropolitan)

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Sakamonda

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I already sent this in to Writer Beware, but also am posting here FYI. . .

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Dear Writer Beware:


I wanted to alert you about a company called “Manchester Who’s Who.” They purport themselves as a women-focused Who’s Who (not affiliated with the more well-known Who’s Who company) and networking service for publishing and media professionals. I was invited to participate some time ago as a professional writer/researcher and was told time and again (verbally and in writing) there was no charge to me to be included in their database/biography book---that there was only a charge if I wanted to search their database for contacts myself---and not being a paid member would not preclude people who were paid members from finding me in their database and possibly contacting me for freelance work. The “member registry” is marketed to freelance writers/media professionals as a way to promote themselves and their writing, areas of research topic expertise, etc.-----supposedly for free.



It seemed on the up and up to me, so I submitted information to have my biography/contact info/clips included. I had to go through a lengthy interview process, both written and verbally over the phone, answering numerous questions about me and my professional publishing history----supposedly for Manchester Who’s Who to determine if I had sufficient career accomplishment for inclusion in the database. (This appeared to me to be a kind of legit editorial gatekeeping, to ensure that only quality media professionals got included in the database). This process alone took several months.



Then today, I got a call at work from the same woman who’d done all the previous interview calls and solicited all the written information about my bio (the same one who assured me there was no charge to participate). There were several more probing interview questions, which I answered to her satisfaction. Then I was congratulated, and told that I qualified for inclusion in their media networking database. I was then informed that it would cost me a mere $689 a year for their “junior” level of membership (i.e., just to be included in the registry), and more than $1000 a year for full access to their database! (along with additional charges for the more typical hardcover member book-buying scam a la the old-school Who’s Who orgs).

This was AFTER I was told repeatedly, in writing and in multiple phone calls, that there was NO CHARGE to me just to be included in the database. To clarify, I asked, “So what you’re saying is, I have to pay at least $689 just to be included in this database?”

“Correct”, said the voice on the line.

I told the woman I was not interested in paying any kind of fee, and she then immediately terminated the call. (The woman who called me each and every time, I believe, is Manchester Who's Who "Editor In Chief" Jennifer Gonzalez.



This is a very well-thought out, sinister, and blatantly misleading scam. I therefore wanted to bring it to Writer Beware’s/everyone's attention.



See www.manchesterwhoswho.com for more info.
 

Daughter of Faulkner

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They got my husband for 125.00!

He said the minute he gave them the check, he knew he'd made a big mistake. However, they did publish him in this big book and sent us one.
He is a professional and really needed no help from them...

Thanks for sharing this information with others!
 

Sakamonda

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$$$$????

Whoa, there's a big difference between $125 and the $689-$1000 they tried to hook me with. I wonder if they try different amounts based on how much they think they've manipulated you, since their website does not list prices for their services (another part of the misleading tactics they use).
 
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educationresearcher

manchester who's who

Sorry to read your stories. I have found Manchester Who's Who has really helped me to make useful contacts. I have searched a variety of professionals ranging from morgan stanley execs to Johns Hopkins physicians to educational administrators. The networking aspect in invaluable.
 

Mac H.

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I'm glad your contacts are happy to pay $670 to be included in a database of names. They must find that the phone book is a real bargain.

Sarcasm aside - you are right. The finished book is a very useful resource.

For example, if you are a phone solicitor getting a 'donation' for a charity (the kind where the charity gets 5% of the money, and the person calling keeps the rest) it is a great opening line to say "I noticed you are listed in Who's Who and we are getting the support of notable citizens for this worthy cause".

This means the book is often used as a source of names, addresses, phone numbers etc for spamming people with junk mail etc.

Good luck,

Mac
 
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Richard White

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Why do people think we're not going to be suspicious of someone who makes their first appearance in a thread about a publisher, posts under a pseudonym, makes a bunch of vague claims and doesn't address the real problem (lack of honesty on the publisher's part).

I mean, it's one thing to try and run a scam when you're dealing with people one on one. It's another level to try to scam an entire bulletin board populated with professional publishers, editors, agents and writers. Somewhere, one of these people is going to call shenanigans.

I swear, someone out there ought to open up a side business called "sockpuppets 'r' us". They'd make a fortune off all the shady publishers and agents who visit this place on a regular basis.
 

scfirenice

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Between a rock and a hard place.
I had to laugh my butt off when I got a letter from them saying I had been deemed by the board of directors to be the representative in my town...hahahaha. I knew right there it was a scam.

scfirenice, not one of the posers.
 

Just4Me

I was contacted by this company. Apparently the price is different for everyone. I only paid $108. I knew when I received the letter it was somewhat of a harmless farce (they don't know anything about me or my work); however, I could stand to be published for $108. That was over three months ago. I never received the "Welcome Package" to complete the process. I tried calling them and emailing them; however, they are the masters of "run-a-round". I finally talked to a very rude man who, arrogantly, proceeded to tell me everything had been delivered to me several months ago. I asked him where it was delivered. They, not only, sent it to the wrong address; but, the wrong state as well! I promptly told him to refund my money. This is not an organization I want to be associated with. He, then, promised a refund in 24-48 hours...it has been three weeks. I have called and called. I get silly operator girls, rude office people, and AGAIN, the run-a-round! They say they will call back; they don't. I was even told it was the CFO's job to put through a refund. Truly, I think I have spent the $108 in phone calls because they don't have an 800 number. THIS COMPANY IS JUST OUT TO RIP PEOPLE OFF!! My next step is to go the the Chicago Sun-Times and send a letter to the people to help with scamming companies like this. My advice to anyone contacted by this company is STAY AWAY FROM Manchester Who's Who.
 

PVish

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Now it's Cambridge Who's Who!

In today's snail mail I received an offer from Jennifer A. Gonzales, Editor in Chief, that began,
It is my pleasure to inform you that you are being considered for inclusion into the 2006/2007 Cambridge Who’s Who Among Professional Women in Writing and Publishing "Honors Edition" of the Registry.

Immediately I smelled scam. For one thing, the letter was addressed to my given name--and I write using my nickname. The only time I've used my given name lately was when I subscribed to Writer's Digest a few months ago. (Gee,ya think there's a connection?!)

A quick check of their website http://www.cambridgewhoswho.com revealed that Cambridge is the result of a merger between Manchester Who's Who and Empire Who's Who.

From http://www.cambridgewhoswho.com/index.cfm?fuseaction=registry
The Cambridge Who's Who Who registry is a compilation of member biographies highlighting their company, expertise, and achievements. Recognition is a privilege and an honor shared by tens of thousands of members every year. Your listing in the registry is a tribute to you and your professional achievements and accomplishments. Our registry is published in an elegant hardcover format, which should proudly be displayed in your home or office. The registry is an important part of membership and is offered exclusively to our members.

A bit of Google-sleuthing "Cambridge Who's Who" turned up four pages, mostly of folks who were so honored to be selected, etc., etc., so I guess Cambridge hasn't been operating long enough to have scam warnings posted.

Anybody want to guess what name they'll use next?

Anyhow, there wasn't a form to fill out, just a postcard. My name isn't on the postcard. I'd have to fill it in, along with address, business, and email. Now, should I have my elderly mixed retriever (the one who is a Poet of the Year, Poetry Ambassdor, etc., with ILP) fill this out? His credentials are pretty impressive, and the card doesn't say it's just for women. It says "Executive and Professional Registry." It does ask for "industry" and "personal specialty" though. I'm not sure he has either of those.
 

Sakamonda

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And the harrassment starts. . .

Since the name change occurred, I was recently contacted by someone at the renamed company questioning the validity of my original post on Manchester Who's Who. The Director of Corporate Relations apparently thinks I was "misinformed" by posting the original scam warning. I paste their email below in its entirety; Writer Beware, take note!!

Dear Sakamonda:

I read with great interest your postings about Manchester Who’s Who on
Absolutewrite.com. As the new director of corporate relations for
Cambridge Who’s Who (the result of a merger between Manchester Who’s Who
and Empire Who’s Who), I would like to invite you to engage in a dialogue
with me, either via email or on the phone (your choice), with the goal
of setting the record straight on our company’s services and how we
conduct business.

Cambridge Who’s Who is the largest membership-based networking
organization in the world, with more than 200,000 members. We serve executives
and professionals in approximately 100 industries, including publishing
and the media. Once you’ve been invited to list your bio in the
registry, posting your bio on our website is indeed free. As one might expect,
there is a charge to gain access to the database Cambridge has taken so
much time and effort to build. Paid members often find and contact
people who have free listings in the database.

You indicate that our representative told you it costs $689 a year for
a “junior” level of membership (i.e., just to be included in the
registry), and more than $1000 a year for full access to the database (along
with additional charges for the hardcover registry). I don’t know if
you spoke with Jennifer Gonzales or someone else, but I want you to know
that those figures are simply not correct. Perhaps you misunderstood,
because our lifetime membership is $1017.95 (which includes the printed
registry). That amortizes to less than $51 a year for a 40-year-old who
plans to spend another 20 years on the job, so it’s easy to see that
membership is really very reasonable for members who want to save time
networking and developing new business. We also have other, less
expensive membership levels if a person joins for five years, three years, or
one year, which is the reason another writer indicated a smaller fee.

I believe I have responded to all of the points in your postings; if
not, I’d be happy to continue this conversation on the phone or via
email. In the interest of full disclosure and fair practices, I hope you
will include this information in a new posting so that readers of
Absolutewrite.com can make decisions about our services based on accurate
information. I would also appreciate your correcting the misinformation in
your postings—I’m sure you understand how important it is that accurate
information is available. We want to give you the opportunity to make
the corrections yourself before we contact Absolutewrite.com directly or
post our own correspondence on the site. We believe we provide a
valuable service, and it would be unfortunate if readers of Absolutewrite.com
opted out of a membership that could advance their careers based on
incomplete or false information.

Thank you for your time and attention.

Victoria Mitchell
Director, Corporate Relations
Cambridge Who's Who
498 Reckson Plaza, West Tower
Uniondale, NY 11556
516-535-1515, x 230
F 516-535-1514
 

Sakamonda

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And my response. . .

Below is my response to Ms. Mitchell:

"What I posted on AbsoluteWrite was quoted verbatim from Jennifer Gonzales, who used classic bait-and-switch tactics to attempt to rip me and others off. I absolutely will not retract what I posted, and it is correct. Your business is not at all legitimate, and since I posted that posting I have corresponded with countless others your company attempted to defraud, all of whom reported wildly variant statements that Ms. Gonzales used to manipulate them into paying your company's exorbitant fees. In all cases, Ms. Gonzales stated that being listed in the database was _not_ free, and conditional upon paying outrageous fees.

You are clearly running a scam operation, and I have notified all appropriate watchdog groups as such. I will also post the below as further evidence of your company's shady business practices. Sincerely, <my name>"
 

shawnolson

Manchester Who's Who

I wanted to share with you my experience with Manchester Who's Who, which is now Cambridge Who's Who. I have now been contacted twice by their lawyer... the first to cease and desists a web page about MWW... and the second a draft law suit filing for $7,000,000 in damages that my web page supposedly caused.

Their lawyer called me directly tonight and he seems much nicer than most lawyers... which is a good thing. But the fact that this company wants to walk all over the constitution is scary. Don't be suprised if they come after this site too because of this page.

I don't expect anything to really come of there attempt to stamp out anti-MWW information on the web...

More details and possible updates about this are at http://www.shawnolson.net/a/1336/cyber-trial-lawyer-or-cyber-bully.html
 

Sakamonda

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I'm sure that means everyone who has posted information on this thread is going to get sued now. Classy. Goes to show what kind of scam they are really operating, then.
 

PVish

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AC Crispin said:
Maybe Writer Beware needs to blog about this operation, after we've gathered more info...
-Ann C. Crispin

. . . and the Marquis Who's Who and the Madison Who's Who. . . .
How many of these things are out there?
 

Sakamonda

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Ha ha ha!

After I already turned them down flat once (and after harrassing me for what I've posted on this board), yesterday I got ANOTHER unsolicited mailing from these bozos, asking if I would like to be a part of Cambridge Who's Who. (The original mail solicitation I got was from Manchester Who's Who.) The marketing materials, which again are misleadingly written in a way to make it appear that they are highly selective in who gets included and also that there is no cost to the writer to be included, are even more slick and expensively produced than before.

Looks like these guys are not even organized enough to stop sending mailings to people who post about them on Writer Beware and AbsoluteWrite. These people are obviously not very smart con artists.
 

Sakamonda

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Sorry. . .

Sorry, Victoria, I tossed it in the garbage. It was sent to my home address bulk-mail. I am sure I will receive another one at some point, and then I will snail-mail it to you. I think they have probably bought the Writers Digest subscribers list and are sending it to all active subscribers.
 

jmousseau

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I got a Cambridge letter too --- I sent them nothing back...
 

cinders23

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I got one of these too (Cambridge who's who) after subscribing to Writer's Digest (that is rather disturbing!) Anyway I thought...what have I done to deserve this?? Yeah right! So I tossed it out.

Cindy.
 

veinglory

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I received a solicatation for one of these Who's Who things when I was in Edinburgh but it smelled of scam so I didn't keep it. I did get as far as filling out the form before I discovered the fine print about paying them money.
 

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