Free Poetry Contest! $10,000 Grand Prize! Enter Today! It's not just the gullible that have been deceived by enticing offers of cash and literary fame. From young to old, beginners and experienced alike, many writing hopefuls have found themselves snagged by literary scams.

In 1998, Charlie Hughes, the owner of Wind Publications, caught a news feature on ABC's 20/20 about an entire class of second-graders who entered a national online poetry contest and were all named semifinalists. "Every child received an identical letter of congratulations for their poem," he recalled. The children and their parents were understandably confused and upset.

Soon afterward, Hughes created a web page to warn amateur poets of such online contests which lack literary merit and result in profits for the sponsor organization through fees charged to the writer for publishing, plaques, and conferences. Hughes's Literary Contest Caution site has become a clearinghouse on the topic and the first stop for anyone concerned about the legitimacy of a contest or offer. The site contains testimonials, transcripts from television and magazine exposes, and links to over twenty other websites that identify literary scams. Many of the pages include candid dialogue from participants, who email Hughes and provide him with the links.