Sunday, October 08, 2006

Buy Awards: American Biographical Institute

The Man of the Year Scam?

I was recently researching accreditation for graduate schools and the requirements for entry into the top MBA and law schools, when I came across an announcement that the President of the Republic of Gambia had won the prestigious “Man of the Year” award.

Wow! Imagine being named “Man of the Year” b y the American Biographical Institute. What an honor!

I was impressed. It's no small feat to beat over a billion men for the honor of "Man of the Year".

I had to learn more about this prestigious award. Here is a copy of the actual certificate from the American Biographical Institute in Raleigh:

Hm, I wonder why Google shows dozens of people winning the “Man of the Year 2004” award from ABI? Could it be a Google error?

Doh! Silly me. . .

Obviously, the “Man of the Year” award has been given out for many centuries!

After all, what other explanation could there be for the thousands of “Man of the Year” award winners? Click here and read how illustrious you must be to get chosen for this preeminent award.

The "Man of the Year" award is popular abroad

Google shows that there are over 10,000 “Professors” from all over the world who have been named “Man of the Year”, but strangely, I was able to find only one professor from a US University who had the nads to list this great honor:

"Charles Toftoy, associate professor of management science, SBPM, received The 2003 Man of The Year Award by the American Biographical Institute."

But wait! Is there a "Woman of the Year"?

The Woman of the Year!

Yes! The American Biographical Institute honors the “Woman of the Year” too! Google shows that over 700 people have been honored as “Woman of the Year” meaning that this award has been given-out every year since the middle ages. Quite impressive.

According to this web site there are very rigorous standards to become the "Woman of the Year":

“The American Biographical Institute said that the award is based on "Mrs. xxx outstanding accomplishments to date and the noble example she has set for peers and the entire community."”

But wait! There's more!

It's clear that the American Biographical Institute awards and honours are a really big deal, and famous politicians often confer these awards to their lucky purchasers. This ABI Woman of the Year notes that Dr. Andrew Refshauge, Deputy Premier of New South Wales Australia presented her with the American Biographical Institute’s “Order of International Ambassadors” award, one of their most expensive honors.

Now how much would you pay?

Now, you are probably wondering how much money these ABI awards cost?

It appears that these purchased honors are very reasonable priced and a good value for the money, as noted in this Australian Newspaper report:

Scam of the year a snip at $195
By Richard Baker
State Political Reporter
August 27, 2004

Consumer Affairs Minister John Lenders has been asked to investigate a scam being run by a group called the American Biographical Institute after it told a Labor MP he would get a decree confirming his nomination as 2004 "man of the year" if he paid $US195 ($A276).

Mr Robinson said the institute invited him to send an extra $US100 to a North Carolina address if he wanted the deluxe version of his degree, "custom laminated in Finnish birch".

Finnish Birch?

This page titled awards scams, confirms that the "Man of the Year" award is very reasonably priced at only $195, and that this man got the offer addressd to Mrs....:

"A few years ago, I remember getting a letter from the American Biographical Institute, telling me that I had been chosen "Man of the Year", as I was a recognized leader in my field. My name would be included in their new volume. All I had to do was send about 200$ to get a plaque and a copy of the book.

I would have fallen it but for the fact that the letter was addressed to me as "Mrs....".

What they had done was to get a mailing list from somewhere and post form letters.

I realized however some months later how people do get conned by these awards when my association newsletter carried an item about one of my senior colleagues having received the ABI's "Man of the Year" award."

The ABI seems to have some trouble identify the genders of their inductees, as noted by this gentleman recipient of The Woman of the Year award:

"Dr. Govinda Tandon, an archaeologist living in Kathmandu, was at first pleased to have been selected for the honor, but when he unwrapped the beautiful wooden plaque that came with it, he discovered that the award was for "Woman of the Year."

In a separate letter, the Institute explained that it had chosen him in the course of its "effort to recognize a small select group of outstanding women achievers throughout the world."

Dr. Tandon, asking himself, "how can I accept an award from an institute that can't even determine whether I'm a man or a woman?," returned the plaque, thereby saving himself the Rs 20,000 (US $300) that the Institute said it needed from him to pay for entering his name in their directory."

But you must Act Now!

Now you’re probably thinking that these American Biographical Institute awards are fake, phony or a fraud. I checked, and it's does not look like a rip-off, scam, deception, scheme, con, swindle, or racket!

After all, how could such a highly acclaimed award be phoney if it costs $195.00 and the award appears on over 30 thousand web pages?

Visiting the famed institute

I went to the fabled campus of the American Biographical Institute in Raleigh North Carolina to see the Institute for myself. Actually, it looks more like a Condo than an Institute, but I guess it would sound silly to issue such prestigious awards from the "American Biographical Condominium".

Nobody answered the door to the American Biographical Institute when I knocked, so I was unable to get more details, but it sure is comforting to know that the ABI is a real place and it's not a fraud, fake or phony.