Yet Another Work-from-Home Scam
Bogus home-based Internet "business coaching services" are the latest target of the The Federal Trade Commission. It seems dozens of companies have been pushing a program that claims to help consumers create their own businesses, but that "consumers rarely, if ever, make any money as a result of the program or end up with a viable business of any kind," according to a complaint filed by the FTC.
Consumers are counseled to beware of companies with names like Ivy Capital, Fortune Learning and the Enrich Wealth Group. Not only are their program substantially less than promised, but "consumers who continue to make refund requests are often berated and insulted," the FTC says in its federal complaint.
Not surprisingly, the scams work by getting telephone numbers from consumers who responded to unrelated e-mail or ads about work-at-home or Internet business opportunities. Sales reps call They do not identify themselves, nor do they specify what type of Internet business the consumers will run or what will be expected of them. They use "high pressure sales tactics" to sell a coaching program, and tell consumers that they can make millions of dollars if they "act quickly because there are hundreds of people waiting to purchase the program."
For $2,000 to $20,000, depending on the consumer's credit, the perpetrators promise to provide a personal business coach, coaching sessions, unlimited e-mail support, access to "Webinars" and articles, and technical and Web design help. But the coaches provide "little or no substantive guidance," and many of the videos contain "merely common-sense advice or inspirational videos," the FTC says.
In some instances, consumers are pressured into signing an electronic contract during the sales call without giving them time to read the contract. "Within days, weeks or months of purchasing the program, consumers discover that it is nearly impossible to establish a profitable Internet business, even if they work substantially more than 5 to 10 hours a week and follow all the steps of the program," according to the FTC claim.
On top of that, victims unwittingly sign a "non-disparagement" contract that forbids them from saying or doing anything that could "embarrass" the companies. There is a strict three-day refund policy, but because they are rarely provide any products or services within that three-day time period, consumers have no way of evaluating their purchase until it's too late.
Victims who ask for a refund face a series of obstacles, the FTC says, including being unable to reach a sales rep within the three-day window. If they do get through, they are often told conflicting information on how to get their money back; or they are "berated and insulted."
The FTC wants the compaies' assets frozen, rescission of contracts, disgorgement and penalties.
If you've been involved with any of the following companies, you're encouraged to contact the FTC:
- Cherrytree Holdings LLC
- Oxford Financial LLC
- S & T Time LLC
- Virtucon LLC
- Curva LLC
- Mowab Inc.
Next: Dumbest Job Scam Ever
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