HIGHTSTOWN, N. J. (11/2/09)--Recent e-mails notifying credit unions and other businesses that they have won prestigious awards from a national association appear to be part of a widespread scheme to get companies to pay for “vanity” awards and plaques, says The New Jersey Credit Union League. The group behind the “awards” program is the U. S. Commerce Association of Washington, D.C. The association sent out e-mails and news releases in recent months to businesses nationwide, telling them they have been selected as “outstanding local businesses” and offering them an opportunity to buy one or more awards to mark the honor (The Daily Exchange Oct .30). An e-mail recently sent to Healthcare Employees FCU, Princeton, N.J., said: “I am pleased to announce that Healthcare Employees FCU has been selected for the 2009 Best of Princeton Award in the Credit Unions category by the U.S. Commerce Association. In recognition of your achievement, a 2009 Best of Princeton Award has been designed for display at your place of business. “You may arrange to have your award sent directly to Healthcare Employees FCU by following the simple steps on the 2009 Best of Princeton Award order form,” the e-mail continued. “Simply copy and paste this link into your browser to receive your award.” The e-mail also has a link to the association’s own website to a press release that announces the recipient credit union has won the award, the league said.