As long as there have been labor publications, there have been scam artists masquerading as legitimate union newsletters, magazines or newspapers trying to swindle advertising dollars from unsuspecting businesses looking for a vehicle to reach union members and their families.
Today, as most union publications have migrated to the web, the con artists have followed, reports Andy Zipster, editor of the Guild Reporter of The Newspaper Guild-CWA.
“As print publications have moved increasingly online, so too have the rip-off artists, with such creations as unions.org, unionfriendly.com, unitedworkforce.org, unitedunions.org, unionmembersweb.com and other equally suggestive URLs.
“As the names imply, such bogus websites implicitly suggest—or explicitly state—that they’re union connected, relying on deception rather than the outright extortion of their print predecessors.”
At first glance, Zipster writes, the sites appear to be legitimate, with union logos and links to real union sites “to create an aura of union acceptance.”
All promote themselves as being heavily trafficked by millions of union members, thereby comprising a captive audience for “union friendly” service providers who advertise on the site.
As obviously bogus as some of these sites are, with outrageous traffic claims like “3.5 million unique visitors a month,” links to foreign language pages, to nowhere at all or to far out-dated information and even religious videos on YouTube, businesses looking for a way to reach out to union consumers fall victim to the scam sites. So do some union groups.