Americans still fall for envelope-stuffing scams

via Moak: Americans still fall for envelope-stuffing scams,, 12/4/2015.

Through the years, many otherwise-reasonable consumers have been lured by the promises they can make big money by stuffing envelopes in the comfort of their own homes. You’d think people would be wiser by now, but Americans lose millions every year to scammers using this particular con.

Just last week, the Federal Trade Commission shut down one envelope-stuffing scam that reaped more than $7 million from “tens of thousands” of participants across the nation, promising them they could make $5,000 a week or more by stuffing and mailing “special advertising letters” from home. In fact, consumers’ initial investments of $99 to $399 garnered them only an average of $19.50 (and about 90 percent of participants never received anything.)

The scheme was propagated through unsolicited flyers in the mail, mailed to them, promising consumers: “Get paid for mailing our special letters from home! Potential earnings of up to $5,000 or more weekly! Free postage, free circulars, free envelopes. Pay Checks Mailed Every Tuesday. Don’t Get Left Out!  Give us a try & receive a check in as little as ten days!”

When consumers signed up, they received a set of solicitation flyers for a secondwork-at-home scheme assembling and mailing “Get Credit Now” booklets from home. In exchange, according to the FTC, participants were promised $20 per booklet mailed. “In fact,” noted the agency, “consumers in the booklet program were not paid for fulfilling orders and were expected to market the booklets and generate orders to make any money.”

You can read more about the case here.

If you are serious about working from home, consider any offers carefully. In fact, there are very few legitimate opportunities to work from your home; the vast majority are scams. So, before you bite on an offer, do a little checking. Doing a simple Google check of the company’s name, or the language of the solicitation, can provide you with valuable information. (But keep in mind some scammers have started their own websites and promoted them so they come up higher in search engine rankings, so you must take the claims with a grain — or an entire box — of salt.) Ask friends for recommendations of companies that will allow you to work from home, and always be skeptical of any claim that seems too good to be true.

Here are few questions to ask the promoter (courtesy of the FTC):

  • Who will pay me?
  • Where is your business located?
  • How long have you been in business?
  • How and when will I get my first paycheck?
  • Will I be paid a salary or will my pay be based on commission?
  • What will I have to do?
  • What is the total cost of the envelope-stuffing program?
  • What will I get for my money?
  • Will I have to pay for supplies, ads or postage?

And I’d add to that list, “Can you give me a couple of names of real people in my area who have been successful with this?” Usually, asking these questions will yield a dial tone after the first couple of questions, and you’ll know what’s what.

Ultimately, most consumers who sign up for an envelope-stuffing opportunity end up without a chair when the music stops. But a little legwork and common sense can go a long way towards helping keep greedy scammers from getting their hands on your hard-earned cash.


FTC cracks down on scammers

via Consumer Watch » Bill Moak.

The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) has been busy lately with a number of actions filed against operations that allegedly misrepresented benefits of their work-at-home opportunities, promised they could get nonexistent “postal jobs” for clients, and promised free smartphones.

The FTC announced the actions in separate releases in the past few days. For the details, click on the links. All are classic reminders that…say it with me… “If it sounds too good to be true, it probably is.”

Be Your Own Boss?
Christopher Andrew Sterling, who sold work-at-home opportunities, was banned by the FTC from selling any more, after agreeing to a settlement with the FTC. The agency sued Sterling in November 2012 as part of “Operation Lost Opportunity,” a federal-state crackdown on scams that falsely promised jobs and opportunities to “be your own boss” to people who are unemployed or underemployed. Sterling was accused of falsely claiming that consumers could earn up to $1,000 per day by processing rebate and credit card applications, but never delivered on the promises. A $69,289 fine was part of the settlement, but it’s likely he won’t have to pay because he says he claims he doesn’t have the financial means to do so.

Return to Sender
A company that claimed to be able to provide jobs with the U.S. Postal Service is now banned from further activities, thanks to an FTC settlement resulting from its investigation, called “Operation Lost Opportunity”. The scheme, which went under the name “Career Exams, Inc. and O’Brien Marketing, Inc.”, was charged with running ads for postal jobs. Would-be Cliff Clavens were duped by ads promising access to postal jobs in exchange for a $120.00 fee, but instead received a booklet “containing general information about the hiring process for the federal civil service and Postal Service.” The two defendants, Jeryn B. Lee and Derek Jackson, were ordered to surrender about $45,000, but could also be subjected to a $4.8 million judgment if it’s found they misrepresented their ability to pay.

Spam, a lot…
Henry Nolan Kelly has been ordered to pay $60,950 and stop sending unwanted text messages to consumers. Kelly was accused of sending more than 20 million unsolicited text messages to consumers promising free iPhones or iPads, but when consumers clicked the supplied links, they led to a site where they were asked to provide personal information or to make additional purchases or subscriptions. Just a reminder…it’s illegal to send unsolicited text messages for marketing purposes, unless you have clearly gotten the consumer’s permission. Once again, Kelly will probably escape repaying the $60,950 he gained from the venture.

One thing that’s interesting here is that these people are apparently going to escape having to make restitution for the ill-gotten gains from their activities. No word on when, or if, any of the victims will ever get their money back.