Everyone knows I love book contests. I have entered most that have a track record and some that do not, but I screeched to a halt at this one, the so-called Elite Choice Book Awards at www.elitechoiceawards.com. There were far too many red flags.

Background

Someone claiming to be Katherine Hughes invited me via bulk email to enter my latest work in the Elite Choice Book Awards contest – one that offered a $5,000 grand prize. $5,000 is, by literary standards, a sizable award. Who wouldn’t want $5,000?

I dug deeper. To begin, Katherine’s email address was spoofed. "Her" real address is This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it., as was the link to the organization’s website, www.elitechoiceawards.com. "She" also uses 009601d64fc7$f8c16b40$ea4441c0$@aol.com. Nothing to hide, right? Props for transparency.

The IP address of the email spoofing service ConvertKit is 168.245.5.113, which was blacklisted by multiple firewall services, following recipient complaints.


About the Elite Choice Awards website

The domain name elitechoiceawards.com was registered with GoDaddy on June 14, 2020. Previous to June 14, 2020, the domain name did not exist. The registrant’s profile information is private, generally a red flag. There is no listed website administrator. Similarly, there is no contact information on the website.

What the website does contain are bold claims: international recognition and prestige, 2,500 previous winners, a complimentary editorial review, awards since 2017 – each remarkable, given that a Google search of “elite choice book awards” and “elite choice awards” generates zero hits before June 2000, and all those hits were self-generated by the website itself and its social media aliases at Medium and Twitter. In other words, despite all the asserted recognition and prestige, not a single winning author decided to publicize their respective award via the Internet, and not a single editorial review was deemed worth publishing.

Another red flag is Elite Choice's web-host, Domains By Proxy, the web-host of choice for legions of porn, gambling and other dubious enterprises, because of how zealously it protects the identity of its customers. Domains By Proxy is the "go to" web-host for businesses that have something to hide.


Payment

The site dispenses with a secure payment platform such as PayPal and does not permit payment by check. Instead, it harvests credit card information directly.

Direct credit card payment is extraordinarily dubious, especially when the payee’s identity and contact information are withheld. Needless to say, there is nowhere to send your book. It has to be uploaded, which contradicts the website’s PSA that all entries, once judged, are donated to local libraries. Plus, there is no cover upload button, so Elite Choices could not publicize winners or publish editorial reviews if they indeed wanted to.

Elite Choice's defense

I wrote "Katherine Hughes" on July 1, 2020, giving "her" an opportunity to explain. The reply was as follows.

Our old website was recently hacked, so to protect the safety and information of our customers, we have had to completely overhaul all of our systems including registering a new domain, creating a new website and support portal.
Due to COVID-19, we have had very limited support, so it is taking some time to re-upload all of our information (e.g. previous winners). Our #1 priority is the safety of our customers so we are treating this situation delicately to ensure our new systems are completely protected.

Were any of this true, there would still be thousands of citations on Google by previous winners. When and if previous winners are identified, I will reach out to them for corroboration. Until then, the asserted explanation is unpersuasive.

Bottom Line

The Elite Choices Book Awards are probably fraudulent. Nothing in the bulk email or on the website is verifiable. There is no grand prize. But someone will gladly harvest your credit card information. You just won’t know who.

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