Seven Nasty Job Scams
Sick of the career spammers and scammers who prey on the unemployed, take their money and run all the way to the bank? Well, the Federal Trade Commission is fed up with them too, and has announced Operation Bottom Dollar, which has already begun cracking down on these fiends.
Officially, Operation Bottom Dollar is "a new crackdown on con artists who are preying on unemployed Americans with job-placement and work-at-home scams, promoting empty promises that they can help people get jobs in the federal government, as movie extras, or as mystery shoppers; or make money working from their homes stuffing envelopes or assembling ornaments."
David C. Vladeck, director of the FTC's Bureau of Consumer Protection, stated, "Federal and state law-enforcement officials will not tolerate those who take advantage of consumers in times of economic misfortune," Vladeck said. "If you falsely advertise that you will connect people with jobs or with opportunities for them to make money working from home, we will shut you down. We will give your assets to the people you scammed, and, when it's appropriate, we'll refer you to criminal authorities for prosecution."
"Employment and business opportunity fraud causes terrible hardship to those who are suffering the most in these difficult economic times," said Assistant U.S. Attorney General Tony West. "The Justice Department is committed to prosecuting those who defraud through false promises of employment or financial success."
The FTC has already brought seven new cases against promoters of the job and money-making scams, including one that victimized more than 100,000 people. Among them are:
1. Government Careers, Inc.
They preyed on job-seekers since at least March 2009 by running deceptive ads on job websites. Government Careers claimed it could help people get postal, border patrol, and wildlife jobs as well as administrative support and clerical positions with the federal government. It told people they could get these jobs if they paid $119 for study materials, which would allow them to pass any required test with a score of 95 percent or better. But according to the FTC complaint, those who paid the fee found that there are no exams for the positions they sought, or that the supposed job vacancies did not exist. The company also hawked career counseling services, charging $965 for services like resume editing and employment exam preparation. Although the defendants said that consumers would not have to pay the fee until they got a government job, the defendants demanded payment before consumers obtained the promised jobs.
2. Real Wealth, Inc.
This company conned more than 100,000 people by selling them booklets that supposedly explained how they could earn money by applying for government grants and working from home mailing postcards and envelopes. Using direct mail campaigns that sometimes targeted the elderly and disabled, Real Wealth lured consumers, according to the FTC complaint, with deceptive solicitations such as, "Collect up to $9,250 with my simple 3 minute form," or "All I do is mail 30 postcards everyday and I make an extra $350 a week!" Real Wealth also claimed that consumers could "rake in up to $1,500+ per week or more in solid cash" by learning "secrets" about the "$700 billion banking industry bailout."
3. Darling Angel Pin Creations
These "darlings" allegedly claimed on the Internet and in newspaper advertisements that by purchasing a starter kit, consumers could earn up to $500 per week assembling angel pins, and that no experience, special tools, or sewing skills were required. Consumers paid between $22 and $45 to get started, and sometimes paid hundreds more for the supplies they would need to make the pins. However, according to the FTC's complaint, there was a catch: Consumers were required to have one of their assembled angel pins approved by the company before they could make any money – but the company rejected nearly all the angel pins consumers submitted, no matter how well-made. The FTC charged that the defendants made false and baseless claims that consumers could earn substantial income from angel pin assembly, when in fact they could not.
4. Abili-Staff, Ltd.
Abili-Staff sold supposed work-at-home opportunities online. Billing itself as a "scam free" and "legitimate" job search service, Abili-Staff sold supposedly pre-screened lists of jobs, telling consumers they could access the lists after paying a fee ranging from $29.98 to $89.99, according to the FTC's complaint. The FTC alleged that defendants falsely told consumers they would have unlimited access to more than 1,000 work-at-home job listings, and that they would get their money back if they did not get a job.
5. Entertainment Work, Inc.
They marketed memberships in a website that was supposed to list jobs as movie extras, jobs on television, or jobs in print media. By telemarketing and placing advertisements on websites and in newspapers across the country, the defendants sold trial memberships for $19.95 to $24.95, and automatically converted those into annual memberships for an additional fee of $80 after two weeks. The FTC charged that Entertainment Work deceptively claimed consumers would find entertainment and media jobs near where they lived, without regard to their experience, skills, or appearance. The complaint also charged that the company failed to disclose that to cancel their membership, people would have to pay an additional fee or undertake a burdensome process.
6. Independent Marketing Exchange, Inc.
This company allegedly made false earnings claims, and additional misrepresentations in the course of selling a smorgasbord of work-at-home opportunities, including an envelope-mailing opportunity, a postcard-mailing opportunity and a mystery-shopper opportunity. Their deceptive practices have injured numerous consumers, including stay-at-home and single mothers. The FTC's complaint alleges that the defendants falsely represented to consumers that they could make substantial amounts of money.
7. Preferred Platinum Services Network
The husband-and-wife team who owned and operated it allegedly marketed a work-from-home scheme in which consumers were told they could earn significant sums by labeling postcards describing a non-existent productpromoted by Preferred Platinum called "mortgage accelerator." Advertised in local Pennysavers and newspaper classified sections, and at the defendants' website, the scheme touted earnings of up to $1 per postcard, as well as a 60-day money-back guarantee. Consumers paid an enrollment fee of $80 to $90, and they typically did not learn until later that they would have to pay $40 more for each additional batch of 100 postcards, according to the FTC complaint. At the same time this matter was filed, criminal authorities executed search warrants on the business and arrested the husband-and-wife team, charging each of them with one count of mail fraud.
If you've been scammed by any of these companies, you might be able to get some money back. You can keep track of the legal proceedings on the FTC's website.