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 Work At Home Scams!

The following page describes some common scams. These scams are consistent through out the internet and offline. You will find that scams are not necessarily classified or as clear cut as we have laid them out here.  However most scams follow criteria or patterns we have laid out below. Knowing the criteria will help you better determine a scam even if its disguised differently. Please keep in mind that common sense should be exercised in respects to some of these criteria. I have found that any given company can display one or even a few of the characteristics listed, however it doesn't necessarily mean it is a scam.  Use your judgment or search these other consumer protection agencies to research any company that you may be interested in.

The Scams
Envelope Stuffing Scams  

Example Of Mail Order Scams

Chain Letters and Pyramid Schemes  

The Truth About Offline Multi-Level Marketing Programs

Things You Should Know About Telemarketing Fraud

  The Truth About Home Employment and The Internet

 

Envelope Stuffing Scams

It seems like every mail order publication has at least one ad in it promising hundreds of dollars a week, just for stuffing envelopes. Some even promise to pay $4 or $5 per envelope stuffed! So, many people send off their hard earned money for the "registration fees" so they can get started on this easy work. Then they are disappointed when they discover they've been duped.

Here's why the envelope stuffing programs are nothing more than scams.
First of all, the idea of paying someone to stuff envelopes is ridiculous. Why pay someone even 50 cents to stuff an envelope when you can get an envelope stuffing machine for a few hundred dollars? There must be more to what you'll have to do then simply putting a paper in an envelope.

In fact, there's more. The most prevalent envelope stuffing con game goes like this. You pay your "registration fee" _ usually around $30.00, pure profit for the scam operator.

The operator will then send you a copy of the ad you originally responded to, along with the wording to a classified ad, telling people about how much money they can make stuffing envelopes, and to send a self-addressed stamped envelope for information. When you receive someone's SASE, you send them a copy of the ad.

You have just "stuffed an envelope." If the poor sucker sends in the registration fee to the operator (like YOU did), the operator will send you $1 (or whatever was promised in the ad) for "stuffing the envelope." The operator is left with expenses of around $2 and a profit of $28.

Basically, you are doing all the advertising work for the operator for extremely low pay. You should expect a response rate, if you're lucky, of 1/4% to 1/2%. At 1/2%, you'd have to get 200 responses to your classified ad to get $1. Good luck.

The other most common scheme goes like this. You send the usual registration fee in, and the operator sends you a package containing all the components of the operators mailings. You must assemble them, fold them, and stuff the envelopes according to the operator's very exacting instructions.

Then, you send the stuffed envelopes back to the operator. You will be paid for each stuffed envelope that "meets their standards." Of course, none of the envelopes you stuffed will meet their standards. They will find some reason not to pay you. Of course, that doesn't prevent them from still sending out the envelopes you stuffed...
So, you can see, that joining an envelope stuffing program is a bad idea. Save the money you'd send in for the registration fee, and put it towards a legitimate mail order business, and you'll be happier and more successful.

More Scams!


Chain Letters and Pyramid Schemes and Why They Don't Work!
 

If you are active in mail order, you've no doubt seen tons of chain letters and pyramid programs. In case you're not familiar with them, here's an overview, so you know what to watch out for.

Chain letters are those letters you get, instructing you to send, say $5, to the 4 to 6 people on the list, who will send you a report, or some product, or sometimes even nothing. Then, you add your name to the bottom of the list, moving the others up, and the top one off.

You then print and mail out as many as you can, hoping others will do the same as you. The letters are liberally sprinkled with references to how much money you will make, and how many people are sure to participate. Some even go so far as to promise you $1,000,000 and more, sometimes in less than a month!

Pyramid schemes are what chain letters are based on. You buy into one, then you need to recruit others below you, to move you up the line. The people you recruit, in turn, need to recruit others, and so on. Pyramids go by all kinds of names and formats.

For example, "Airplanes" are a popular pyramid scheme. There are 8 "passengers," 4 "stewardesses," 2 " co-pilots," and 1 "pilot." When you buy in, you pay a predetermined amount, like $10, to the pilot. That makes you a passenger.
When you recruit 8 more people, you become a stewardess. Your 8 people then need to recruit 8 more, to move you up, and so on. You're promised that you will get hundreds of dollars when you're the pilot.

These programs all share many characteristics.
First, they're illegal. Don't believe what the chain letters say, that someone "showed it to the postmaster, who assured him it was legal," or "it's legal, check the postal codes."

Pyramid games are illegal because you're paying money for nothing, in a shaky con game which can fall apart if recruiting drops off. With a chain letter, it's the same, but it's conducted through the mail, which opens up mail fraud laws, also.

Second, the mathematics used in the letters and schemes is flawed.
Most chain letters will say you should expect a 5% - 10% response from your mailings. As anyone in mail order will tell you, this is absurd, especially in regard to chain letters.

But, let's go with a 5% response on a chain letter with six levels. For the sake of argument, let's say that everyone who participates mails out 2,000 copies (though most people drop out without mailing more than a few).
What you are doing in a chain letter is relying on others to do the work that will make money for you. There is no such thing as free lunch. Somewhere along the line, people will drop out and everybody loses!

It doesn't matter if the chain letter/pyramid involves sending money, recipes, stamps, or any product or object of value. It's still ILLEGAL and a poor business proposition.

More Scams!


Examples of Mail Order Scams

After spending the last few months investigating certain types of mail order businesses, it was obvious that some of them were border line questionable, if not a verifiable scam.

EXAMPLE 1 Collect names for us. We pay $20 each. Guaranteed! The truth is, this company WILL pay you $20 for each name you collect for them. What they DON'T tell you is that each person has to spend $100 or more by placing an order before you get your $20.

The customer is led to believe that all they have to do is get out their phone books and start sending the company names and addresses. In return, the company will send them $20 for each name and address they send them. When they send away for the details they discover the scam and think everybody in mail order is operating this way. Result: Mail order is labeled as a scam and illegal business activity.

EXAMPLE 2 "How to get 100,000 people to send you $5 each. Send $5 to..." This is cute advertising, but you have to put a legitimate product behind claims like this. One of the materials I found was a book with this title. And you get the book for sending $5 to the publisher. Some so-called seasoned pros will abruptly judge this as a scam. To some extent, these people are not pros. They're just jaded. For mail order neophytes, this is very intriguing. Besides, it only costs $1 to find out. What the beginner finds out is that they are expected to run the same ad in newspapers and tabloids. Other people will send $1 for information and their mailbox is "supposedly" flooded with $1 bills. This ad is NOT illegal. It asks you to send $1 for information and you DO get the information. It's just something you should keep in mind so your expectations aren't high.

These types of ads are all a bunch of paper-passing _ and can be classified under the heading of a "Legitimate Scam." You can't complain that your order was not filled. You can't complain the idea is not possible. You can't complain the ad promised something it didn't deliver.

Likewise, do not confuse scam-sounding ads with legitimate lead-generation ads." A mail order company may run an ad that states: "Want to make a lot of money? Call (this telephone number.)" This is NOT necessarily a scam or rip-off. Since there is no cost involved _ it might be worth your time and effort to call the number and see what this dealer has to offer.

Also, some dealers run ads that don't tell you what the product is because they have an entire package of information they want to send you. It would be too costly to advertise the complete information in a small 1" or 2" ad, so they run "Lead-Generating Ads" to bring them inquiries. This is also not illegal and is common business practice. You'll also find that real "Lead-Generating Ads" DON'T ask you for a lot of money up front. They only tell you enough about the product to entice you to send in a SASE (self-addressed stamped envelope) or $1 for more information. They are unlike the "Example 2" that basically tell you the scam before you order it! (It may take a little time for you to make the distinction between these fine lines.)

Many people overlook the power of the printed word. Instead of complaining, people should be writing their mail order publishers when they are ripped-off, providing them with documentation and a summary of these mail order scams.
Use wisdom. Get your facts straight. Have documentation to back-up your findings and submit them! Wouldn't it be great if everybody in the world were honest? What a wonderful world this would be!

More Scams!


The Truth About Offline Multi-Level Marketing Programs

Multi-level marketing is a fancy name currently being used by some companies in an effort to do two things.

The first objective is to move products from their warehouses, and thus increase their sales volume. The second objective is to recruit "an army" of commission-only sales people. Make no mistake about it! After you've stripped all the hoopla and falderal away from these "super money-making opportunities", the bottom line remains the same - you make money from commissions allowed from the sale of products.

Generally speaking, very few people have any "real" sales experience, and thus, if offered the opportunity to take a job as a commission-only sales person, they'd run from it like the devil. This could prove detrimental at times. There are many companies that do provide great support and free training to help you along the way.

At the same time, most commission-only sales positions are "direct selling" opportunities. And, the definition of direct selling begins with an explanation of what a door-to-door sales person does.

Don't get me wrong... A lot of personal fortunes have been amassed by commission-only sales people... For sure, when you attempt to sell by mail, you're almost always involved in commission selling, and direct selling.

What I'm saying is that most people are "duped" into joining multi-level marketing programs without understanding that it is commission sales and at least a form of door-to-door selling.

Worse than "duping you into joining their programs..." There are some multi-level marketing companies that subtly encourage you to break the law, and run the risk of huge monetary fines, long terms in prison, or both!

This is done by at least, "inferring" that if you will find a number of people to duplicate what you're doing, and in turn encourage each new enrollee to keep the system going, everybody will get rich!

No so, my friend! That's a "Ponzi Scheme", and if you don't really understand what a Ponzi Scheme is - allow me a moment to explain: Such a scheme is any kind of money-making opportunity where you get paid by recruiting, enlisting or soliciting other people to follow your lead and continue a chain of events. In other words, you'll be paid a commission from the people you recruit -1; form the people they recruit -2; from the people they recruit-3; and on into infinity.

This is the "secret" impact that most multi-level marketing companies use to induce you to buy into their program. Such practices are illegal, and subject to federal laws which could destroy you. So called, bi-level marketing plans are the same thing, as are chain letters, and people-helping people clubs. They're all based upon the Ponzi Scheme. If you have any doubts, take your money-making opportunity and sit down with your local postmaster and discuss it's legality.

These things are illegal because if - as in a dream world - they really worked, by the time one person had attained level number five, he would have "signed" everybody on the face of the earth with only the first two levels receiving any of the money. There would be nobody left for the third, fourth and fifth levels to sell to...

Multi-level marketing companies get around the law by stating within their by-laws that it is strictly forbidden to promote or attempt to sell the program by mail. Then, when the postal inspectors come calling on the little guy, the MLM company says: He did it - we don't do such things - here, look at our by-laws.

The bottom line is as old as the hills: you can do anything you want - legal or illegal - so long as you don't get caught - but when you do get caught, you'd better be prepared to pay the price.

Besides the terrible mess multi-level marketing has gotten a lot of normally law-abiding & moral people into, it has "foisted" upon these people personality changes that many of them do not like.

To make any money selling a product or service on a commission-only basis, you have to have the ability to sell like the proverbial "used car salesman". It's all hard sell, and more often than not, involves "forcing" the prospect to buy whether it's good for him or not.

Anyone who has ever attempted to succeed in commission sales, knows that it takes a product in great demand - a great deal of sales calls, advertising and persistence - at least a little bit of failure - and a tremendous amount of "total business moxie" to make any money at it.

We are no way arguing or stating that all MLM's are scams. That would be a gross overgeneralization. We know of many that are very good and exercise legitimate business practices that comply with federal and state laws. Some of the best of these companies are listed in wonderful resources listed in this site.

Furthermore, there is nothing wrong with commission selling - and if you're good at it, and receive the proper training and support, you can make a lot of money with this kind of selling - but remember that multi-level marketing is commission based. It takes a special kind of personality and a great company to succeed at it.

More Scams!


Swindlers Are Calling -Things You Should Know About Telemarketing Fraud

Most telephone sales calls are made by legitimate businesses offering legitimate products or services.

But wherever honest firms search for new customers, so do swindlers. Phone fraud is a multi-billion dollar business that involves selling everything from bad or non-existent investments to the peddling of misrepresented products and services. Everyone who has a phone is a prospect; whether you become a victim is largely up to you.

TIP-OFFS That a Caller Could be a Crook

1 High-pressure sales tactics.

The call may not begin that way, but if the swindler senses you're not going to be an easy sale, he or she may shift to a hard sell. This is in contrast to legitimate businesses, most of which respect an individual's right to be "not interested."

High-pressure sales tactics take a variety of forms but the common denominator is usually a stubborn reluctance to accept "no" as an answer. Some callers may resort to insult and argument, questioning the prospect's intelligence or ability to make a decision, often ending with a warning that "you're going to be very sorry if you don't do such and such." Or, "you'll never get rich if you don't take a chance."

2 Insistence on an immediate decision.

If it's an investment, the caller may say something like, "the market is starting to move even as we talk." For a product or service, the urgency pitch may be that "there are only a few left" or "the offer is about to expire." The bottom line is that swindlers often insist that you should (or must) make your decision right now. And they always give a reason.

3 The offer sounds too good to be true.

The oldest advice around is still the best: "An offer that sounds too good to be true probably is." Having said this, however, you should be aware that some phone swindlers are becoming more sophisticated. They may make statements that sound just reasonable enough (if only barely) to keep you from hanging up. Or they may make three or four statements you know to be true so that when they spring the big lie for what they're selling, you'll be more likely to believe that, too. That's where the verbal camouflage comes in.

4 A request for your credit card number for any purpose other than to make a purchase.

A swindler may ask you for your credit card number -- or, in the most brash cases, several credit card numbers -- for "identification," or "verification" that you have won something, or merely as an "expression of good faith" on your part. Whatever the ploy, once a swindler has your card number it is likely that unauthorized charges will appear on your account.

5 An offer to send someone to your home or office to pick up the money, or some other method such as overnight mail to get your funds more quickly.

This is likely to be part of their "urgency" pitch. It could be an effort to avoid mail fraud charges by bypassing postal authorities or simply a way of getting your money before you change your mind.

6 A statement that something is "free," followed by a requirement that you pay for something.

While honest firms may promote free phone offers to attract customers, the difference with swindlers is that you generally have to pay in some way to get whatever it is that's "free." The cost may be labeled as a handling or shipping charge, or as payment for an item in addition to the "prize." Whatever you receive "free" -- if anything -- most likely will be worth much less than what you've paid.

7 An investment that's "without risk."

Except for obligations of the U.S. Government, all investments have some degree of risk. And if there were any such thing as a risk-free investment with big profits assured, the caller certainly wouldn't have to dial through the phone book to find investors!

8 Unwillingness to provide written information or references (such as a bank or names of satisfied customers in your area) that you can contact.

Swindlers generally have a long list of reasons: "There isn't time for that," or "it's a brand new offer and printed material isn't available yet," or "customer references would violate someone's privacy." Although in this day and age, customer privacy is of the utmost importance to internet companies, so this response can actually be valid and not necessarily an excuse.

Even with references, be cautious, some swindlers pay off a few customers to serve as references.

The caller may also be reluctant to answer questions by phone -- such as inquiries about the firm or even how and where you can contact the firm. The swindler may insist on contacting you "for your convenience."

9 A suggestion that you should make a purchase or investment on the basis of "trust."

Trust is a laudable trait, but it shouldn't be dispensed indiscriminately -- certainly not to unknown persons calling on the phone and asking that you send them money. Even so, "trust me" is a pitch that swindlers sometimes employ when all else fails.

10 WAYS To Avoid Becoming a Victim

1 Don't allow yourself to be pushed into a hurried decision.

No matter what you're told to the contrary, the reality is that at least 99 percent of everything that's a good deal today will still be a good deal a week from now! And the other one percent isn't generally worth the risk you'd be taking to find out.

There may be times when you'll want to make a prompt decision, but those occasions shouldn't involve an irrevocable financial commitment to purchase a product or make an investment that you're not familiar with from a caller that you don't know. And purchase decisions should never be made under pressure.

2 Always request written information, by mail, about the product, service, investment or charity and about the organization that's offering it.

For legitimate firms, this shouldn't be a problem. Swindlers, however, may not want to give you time for adequate consideration, may not have written material available, or may not want to risk a run-in with legal or regulatory authorities by putting fraudulent statements in writing.

Also insist on having enough time to study any information provided before being contacted again or agreeing to meet with anyone in person. Some high-pressure telephone sales calls are solely for the purpose of persuading you to meet with an even higher-pressure sales person in your home!

3 Don't make any investment or purchase you don't fully understand.

A beauty of the American economy is the diversity of investment vehicles and other products available. But it's a diversity that includes the bad as well as the good. Unless you fully understand what you'd be buying or investing, you can be badly burned. Swindlers intentionally seek out individuals who don't know what they are doing! They often attempt to flatter prospects into thinking they are making an informed decision.

4 Ask what state or federal agencies the firm is regulated by and/or is required to be registered with.

And if you get an answer, ask for a phone number or address that you can use to contact the agency and verify the answer yourself. If the firm says it's not subject to any regulation, you may want to increase your level of caution accordingly.

5 Check out the company or organization.

If you assume a firm wouldn't provide you with information, references, or regulatory contacts unless the information was accurate and reliable, that's precisely what swindlers want you to assume. They know that most people never bother to follow through. Look at it this way: Most victims of fraud contact a regulatory agency after they've lost their money; it's far better to make the contact and obtain whatever information is available while you still have your money.

6 If an investment or major purchase is involved, request that information also be sent to your accountant, financial advisor, banker, or attorney for evaluation and an opinion.

Swindlers don't want you to seek a second opinion. Their reluctance or evasiveness could be your tip-off.

7 Ask what recourse you would have if you make a purchase and aren't satisfied.

If there's a guarantee or refund provision, it's best to have it in writing and be satisfied that the business will stand behind its guarantee before you make a final financial commitment.

8 Beware of testimonials that you may have no way of checking out.

They may involve nothing more than someone being paid a fee to speak well of a product or service.

9 Don't provide personal financial information over the phone unless you are absolutely certain the caller has a bona fide need to know.

That goes especially for your credit card numbers and bank account information. The only time you should give anyone your credit card number is if you've decided to make a purchase and want to charge it. If someone says they'll send a bill later but they need your credit card number in the meantime, be cautious and be certain you're dealing with a reputable company.

10 If necessary, hang up.

If you're simply not interested, if you become subject to high-pressure sales tactics, if you can't obtain the information you want or get evasive answers, or if you hear your own better judgment whispering that you may be making a serious mistake, just say good-bye.

More Scams!

 



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