Wednesday, April 1, 2009

Work-at-home deals often are just scams

By: Claudia Buck
McClatchy Newspapers

You’ve seen the enticements: “Work from Home: Earn $$$.” “Guaranteed: $92/Hour ... No Experience Needed.” They pop up on your computer, litter your mailbox, shout from your TV screen. And in this job-jittery economy, they sound awfully tempting.

“People are more vulnerable to these because job opportunities aren’t as plentiful. They’re looking at anything,” said Terri Carpenter, spokeswoman for government-funded Sacramento Works Inc., 
in Sacramento, Calif., which screens online ads for its 12 employment and training centers.

And the come-ons keep coming. Search for “Work from Home” on Google and you’ll get 20.2 million hits

“The Web is full of ’em,” says Kate Lister, the Carlsbad, Calif.-based co-author of Undress for Success: The Naked Truth About Making Money At Home. And after two years of research, Lister concludes that “99 out of 100 are junk, either scams or dead ends.”

Law enforcement cracks down where it can.

“We’re seeing unscrupulous scam artists who are taking advantage of the economic downturn and trying to con people out of their hard-earned dollars,” said Scott Gerber, spokesman for California Attorney General Jerry Brown.

Recently, Brown’s office slapped restrictions and $350,000 in payments for victims’ restitution against two companies accused of making bogus promises of “full-time income” via eBay-like merchandise sales. The catch: Consumers had to pay upfront anywhere from $2,700 to $6,000 to purchase the companies’ Web-based “stores.”

The two firms — Imergent Inc. and StoresOnline — made “tantalizing claims regarding the massive profits” that could be earned, the attorney general’s office said. Instead, most customers never made a dime and many lost money due to the upfront fees.

Just marketing

Tom Harnish, co-author of Undress for Success, said phony online job offers come in many forms, such as charging $20.99 for a jobs data base full of “worthless links” to nonexistent jobs.

Others try to get you to sell something. “There’s an awful lot of them that are for health food, herbal products, jewelry or cosmetics ... but when you drill down, it’s just multilevel marketing,” said Harnish. In other words, your income depends on bringing in new salespeople.

How to avoid getting snared by a scam? “The ones with the most capital letters or exclamation points are the ones you want to run from,” said Harnish.

Another warning sign, many experts say, is companies that require you to pay upfront for fees, memberships, inventory or sales kits.

“When anyone asks you to pay for something to get a job, you have to be skeptical,” says Lister.

No comments: