Feds ban work-from-home scam seller
FTC case highlights how work-at-home opportunities often sound too good to be true - because they are.
Federal authorities say that's the way Christopher Andrew Sterling pitched his business opportunities, sold through the sites sterlingvisa.com, rebatedataprocessor.com, and creditcardworker.com. The fat earnings would come from data-entry as well as processing credit card and rebate applications.
But, as is typically the case with these sorts of programs, the lofty $1,000 a day pitch was far grander than what those who bought in got, according to the Federal Trade Commission, which just resolved its case against Sterling. Sterling was banned by a federal judge from selling such opportunities again.
Here's how it worked: Sterling pitched the idea that processing applications at $15 apiece could add up. His websites, the FTC said, featured scenarios that showed how supposedly real people were raking in big bucks. So, for a minimum fee of about $50, you could get a piece of the action.
For those who paid, what they received was information about affiliate marketing. The FTC, in its complaint against Sterling, said purchasers weren't even told about credit card or rebate application processing. Some of those who paid in received nothing at all, the FTC alleged.
These work from home or business opportunity scams are common. Why? Because so many people fall for them. Successful scams take advantage of desperation and greed. Some fall victim because they think they can get big returns on a small investment while others are grasping for a way to make money and these opportunities are presented in a way that makes it seem plausible.
They take many different forms, from envelope stuffing to medical billing to online search, and each offers a promise of income for a price. But once you pay the price, for the most part, the game is already over. You've lost.
To protect consumers from these sorts of scams, federal law requires those selling business opportunities to make available certain information so that someone considering them can make a reasoned decision about whether to pursue it. The seller must provide a disclosure document that should include relevant lawsuits and the cancellation policy as well as another statement backing up the earnings claims. You should request and read those documents.
In addition, if you are still inclined to pursue one of these opportunities -- understanding that you'll be paying your money to them before you see whether this will be any kind of business you can profit from -- you need to do your homework.
That means checking out the company with the Better Business Bureau, your state attorney general and an internet search. Finding nothing doesn't mean that the opportunity is OK, since so many of these are fly-by-night operations.
More from MSN Money:
- Mac Users targeted in ransomware scam
- Did the bedbugs bite? Remedies' claims may be bogus
- Protecting military consumers
I've read about scams where the at home job was to negotiate foreign certified checks and send the money back less a "cashing fee". Of course no one told the "at home" person that the foreign certified checks were fraudulent, and after a few weeks, when the person's bank realized this, they recovered the funds from that person's bank account(s). By that time, the scam was over - the worker, who thought they had made all this money by cashing these checks, found out it was a scam, and was themselves out thousands of dollars.
As PT Barnum once said - "There's a Sucker born every minute."
And someone else said - "If it looks too good to be true, it isn't."
Copyright © 2014 Microsoft. All rights reserved.
Fundamental company data and historical chart data provided by Morningstar Inc. Real-time index quotes and delayed quotes supplied by Morningstar Inc. Quotes delayed by up to 15 minutes, except where indicated otherwise. Fund summary, fund performance and dividend data provided by Morningstar Inc. Analyst recommendations provided by Zacks Investment Research. StockScouter data provided by Verus Analytics. IPO data provided by Hoover's Inc. Index membership data provided by Morningstar Inc.
ABOUT SMART SPENDING
LATEST BLOG POSTS
Your Easter celebration, from ham and eggs to spring clothes, will take a bigger toll on your wallet this year.
VIDEO ON MSN MONEY
BLOGS WE LIKE
MUST-SEE ON MSN
- Video: Easy DIY smoked meats at home
A charcuterie master shares his process for cold-smoking meat at home.
- Jetpacks about to go mainstream
- Weird things covered by home insurance
- Bing: 70 percent of adults report 'digital eye strain'