Online Scams


November 2010

Hi Everybody - here's my November Scam Alert. Take heed and be careful out there!

Here's an example of how bold and obnoxious these people are (and how they spam indiscriminately).

While I'm warning everybody to steer clear of this online trap, they're actually trying to recruit me!

I received this in my inbox last week from (the address is the first giveaway - it's clearly from someone who wants to remain anonymous).

************"Are You Tired of Your Dead-End Job?

Learn Medical Billing and Coding - and love what you do!"

- Many enjoy very good job prospects from insurance companies, hospitals, medical offices & more!

- Generally, no high school diploma or GED is required to begin your hands-on training

- Use your problem-solving skills to translate crucial information from medical language to coding

Start Your Career!************

Hmmm. I think I'll pass.

P.S. Beware of this site:

News Daily 7 is designed to look like a blog site, with weather widgets, 'news' headlines, and fake 'comments', (all of which, by the way, are neutral or positive about the site); this is no doubt to disarm your advertising radar and make you think that what you're reading is "news". has been up to a lot of mischief lately - here are some examples:

* They hijacked the domain to use in an Adwords Ad for promotion of News Daily 7

* They hijacked the domain to use in an Adwords Ad, again to promote News Daily 7

* They've run ads for through multiple Adwords accounts
I'm shocked to see the HUGE NUMBER OF SITES to which may be connected and some of the strange things going on with many of those sites.

Here's the strangest – and maybe scariest thing – I've seen a site associated with doing:

It appears that either the company behind (or one that's closely associated with them) now controls the following 2 sites:

Don't have anything to do with and stay safe out there!

Avoiding the Crooks and Online Scammers

Because my business relies on the Internet, I have a vested interest to help keep surfing safe - that means personally outing as many online scams as I can.

Since my research on online scams indicates that about 90% of work-at-home offers are not legitimate ways to make money, my advice is to consider it a scam until proven otherwise. The majority of these crooks target the house-bound, seniors and work-at-homes moms – nice. I know that sounds harsh, but it's the truth and I hope I can help save you from becoming their next victim.

The teaser ads for online scams are everywhere - here are some beauties I came up with - either posing as legitimate home business income opportunities or supposedly protecting you from being taken advantage of (if I’m wrong, they can sue me):

“Make $5000 A Month Or More - With Garage Sales”

“Get The Lazy Person's Secrets To Overnight Wealth”

“Learn How To Start A Business At Home And Make Big Bucks”

Here are some of the perennial nasties, as well as some of the unwelcome newcomers.

1. Falling prey to crooks that offer little or no value (they just want your credit card information) Bad enough to sign up and make zero dollars, you can even lose your money with these scam operators. Here’s the con: you supply your credit card info in order to sign up for the ‘opportunity’. Then the ‘hidden negative option marketing’ kicks in and the charges start showing up on your credit card statement – and have fun getting it to stop.

A variation: you’re asked to pay $1 to download information on working online, usually for Google (the 'Google Success Kit'). You supply your credit card information only to discover the link doesn’t work. You’re out your dollar and the scammer is making big bucks off the high volume of respondents. In another version, you agree to pay a small sum but you’re charged much more, either in a lump sum or as a monthly charge for additional ‘services’.

2. The Envelope Stuffing Scam You’ve seen the come-ons:

“Work from home stuffing envelopes – make $1200 per week”

“Envelope Stuff Jobs – Make serious money working at home”

“Earn $1,500 with this legitimate envelope stuffing job”

It’s easy to get caught up in these online scams. The pay sounds great and you’ve got the experience – you’ve been stuffing envelopes (paying bills) all your life. Wow if you can earn that kind of money part-time, think what you could make full-time!

But stop and think about it: modern mail processing facilities use automated folding and stuffing machines to process thousands of flyers per hour for pennies a piece. Why in the world would they need to find home workers to get the job done?

Unfortunately, here’s what’s really going to happen. You’ll send in a ‘small’ start-up fee to sign up (usually $20-$35); then you’ll soon discover the promoter never had any materials for mailing. Instead, you’ll get a set of instructions to advertise your own envelope stuffing scheme. It's just a twist of the chain letter scam – get just seven people to sign up and get them to get seven, etc., and before you know it, you’re rich. In reality, you only make money by promoting the scam to others.

As with other pyramid schemes, the envelope stuffing hoax is immoral AND illegal. And, once again, good luck trying to get your money back.

3. Paid surveys There are tons of these offers out there. While not full-blown online scams, they will eat up tons of your time and focus before you realize you’re far from making any significant money. If you’re just looking to pick up a few bucks and you like the work, this might be a good fit for you. (There’s a lot more choices in the USA – many of these companies do not extend their offers to Canadian residents.)

4. Mystery shopping jobs Beware of the hustlers that want to charge you for ‘certification’, a fee to access their job bank, or a charge to buy a directory of companies that use mystery shoppers. A variation on these online scams is where you’re hired as a mystery shopper to check on a bank’s customer service. They ask you to cash a check or wire funds to a third party, then the check bounces and you’ve lost your money.

5. Medical Billing In this scheme, you pay hundreds of dollars, (usually $300-$900) for 'everything you need to start your own medical billing company at home'. You're promised 'state-of-the-art' software and a list of 'potential clients'. What you’re not told, of course, is that medical clinics almost always process their own bills or outsource them to accredited companies that can guarantee information confidentiality.

6. Home typing, emailing, and data entry jobs Yes, there are some legitimate opportunities out there, but your chances of hooking up with them by answering an online ad are very slim. Typically all you’ll get is a list of businesses/contact information that ’might be’ in the market for your services. Once again, as soon as they ask you to pay an ‘application fee’ (usually between $20 and $80), run, don’t walk away. (Two notable exceptions with good reputations: If you're willing to pay for pre-screened, home-based, top-quality job listings, see proven sites like FlexJobs ($49.95/year; $14.95/month) and Hire My Mom ($99/year; $29.95/quarter).

7. Assembly work These online scams really bug me. These fraudsters say they offer an opportunity to make money for doing assembly or craft projects at home. There’s a catch, of course – it’s the usual gag – you need to pay money for supplies or a one-time application fee to be ‘accepted into the program’. Their claim is that they’ll pay money for each product you assemble. The hook is that your work needs to be in accordance with their standards – aha! That’s their exit strategy – nothing you do will meet their standards, and you'll never see a dime.

8. Re-packaging Offers This one's quite new. These crooks offer an arrangement (and variations of it) where you receive a shipment of merchandise. You are to re-package and re-address the items and send them out, usually by courier. (Often the destination addresses will be off-shore to places like Romania.) These schemes are designed as a front for stolen goods, oh, and by the way, your pay check won't be any good either.

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If You've Been Victimized by Online Scams

The Better Business Bureau offers the following advice if you fall victim to one the online scams:

First, contact the company and demand a refund. If they refuse or give you the run-around, notify them that you plan to notify law enforcement officials. Keep careful records of everything you do to try to recover your money. Keep copies of all documentation including letters, receipts and a log of the time you spend. Document your phone calls - dates, times, who you spoke with and what was said.

Report Online Scams

File a Report With the Internet Crime Complaint Center

The Internet Crime Complaint Center is a joint venture between the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI), the National White Collar Crime Center, and the Bureau of Justice Assistance.

Be prepared to supply:

o Your name, mailing address, and telephone number

o The name, address, telephone number, and web address (if available), of the offending individual or organization

o Specific details on how you believe you were defrauded

Report the Company to the Better Business Bureau (BBB)

Enter the company name or the web site address into the Better Business Bureau search box to learn about the company’s reputation. If BBB rates your prospective employer "unsatisfactory" or says the company has declined to answer requests for information, find another opportunity. (If you have a complaint, you can file the information online.)

File a Report With the Federal Trade Commission (FTC)

The FTC takes complaints about companies and their business practices, as well as reports on identity theft.

In Canada, the Canadian Council of Better Business Bureaus maintains a national database of companies and complaints received about them.

The RCMP has a site targeting scams and includes helpful resources, FAQs, and advice on reporting different types of fraudulent activity.

Do Your Homework

You need to be SO careful. Online scams are becoming increasingly prevalent, sophisticated, and tough to identify. The worst is the growing number of so-called ‘unbiased’ review sites, cleverly disguised as being out to help protect you from online scams, when what they really want is to lure your into THEIR rip off scheme. Polish up your antennae and take a hard look at these so-called ‘help’ sites. Especially if they sound and spell like they originate off-shore, and want you to spend money to sign up - run!

The lessons:

1. NEVER PUT OUT MONEY TO ‘BUY’ A HOME BUSINESS OPPORTUNITY WITHOUT PUTTING A MICROSCOPE ON THE OFFER – (an obvious exception: direct sales and MLM where you purchase a start up kit of product samples and business-building materials; that’s usually legit. Be particularly wary of sites that re-direct you to another location to collect your information.

2. NEVER GIVE PERSONAL INFORMATION (LIKE YOUR DRIVER’S LICENSE, SOCIAL SECURITY NUMBER, SIN OR BANK ACCOUNT INFO) TO SECURE AN ONLINE JOB OPPORTUNITY. Steer clear of offers to send you an “advance” on your pay. These con artists are just after getting your banking information and setting you up to participate in their illegal activities. Never supply your cell phone number to programs you don't trust....the risk? You could wind up receiving telephone calls that cost you up to $6 a call and a lot of unwanted text messages with 'special offers'.

In closing, before you commit to ANY online offer, check the company out. Google the company name with the words ‘scam’ or ‘rip off’ and see what results you get. Check out the company’s website for their contact information and try to call them to see if you reach a real person. (If they don’t have a website, that’s a red flag right there.) Check them out with the Better Business Bureau to see if there have been complaints made against them.

Ask questions. Reputable companies will be able to give you precise and detailed information about the work that needs to be done and how you will be paid. They'll also be able to provide references. If you get vague responses to your questions, you know you're dealing with crooks. Walk away and save your valuable time and money.