How to tell when a 'watchdog' isn't really one at all

These days it's getting so you can't tell the consumer watchdogs from the crooks. I've exposed a number of phony do-gooders over the years, and the pretend-watchdog routine runs rampant among competing marketers of junk-products like acai berry supplements and colon cleansers.

The way it works: One group of bogus marketers sets up something that looks like a product review site, and calls it a name that sounds like a consumer advocate. All the links on the page lead to product sites owned by the same company.

This time, though, we're going to look at a dressed-up, work-from-home scam. Here's a site that calls itself TheConsumerWatchdog.org. It pops up in link ads on, among other places, the Internet Movie Database.

At first, the site looks kind of convincing, with links to a radio network and an embedded video from an ABC network TV show that appears to be talking about this particular work-at-home site.

It's a common tactic of bogus marketing sites to link to video clips from network TV shows or to festoon the site with logos from big-media brands, to try to imply an endorsement that isn't there. Sure, Diane Sawyer may have been talking about working from home -- but not about what this site is selling.