Get the Facts before Buying a Business Opportunity

Scammers pushing empty promises of wealth from business opportunities never cease to be creative. They come up with ideas that sound so detailed and timely that the deal has to be legit…at least, that's what they want you to think.

Take Smart Tools, LLC, whose marketing convinced people they could earn nearly $40,000 per year in a home-based business as “Government Insurance Refund Processors.” The business allegedly involved finding people eligible for refunds from mortgage loan insurance payments and charging them a fee for telling them how to get those refunds. Smart Tools charged consumers who signed up $29.99 per month for refund processing software and access to lists of people eligible for refunds.

But here’s the thing: The U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development offers the same lists for free online.

According to the FTC, Smart Tools also did not make consumers aware of details about the business as required by law. Today, the FTC announced a settlement with Smart Tools that bars the company from continuing these deceptive marketing practices. The case is one of the first actions the FTC brought under its updated Business Opportunity Rule, which requires business opportunity sellers to provide specific information on a simple, one-page form to help consumers more effectively evaluate an opportunity.

If you are considering a business opportunity, be sure the seller provides you with the form – which should include these details:

  • the seller's identifying information
  • whether there is a claim about your likely earnings; if so, the seller must provide information supporting the claim
  • if the seller, its affiliates or key personnel have been involved in certain legal actions; if yes, a list of those actions
  • if there is a cancellation or refund policy; if so, the seller must provide a document with the terms
  • a list of people who bought the business opportunity within the previous three years

The FTC has information to help you avoid dishonest or bogus business opportunities. If an opportunity sounds suspicious or you’ve been taken in by a scam, file a complaint with the FTC.

Blog Topics: 
Jobs & Making Money

Comments

do you have a list of fraudulant work from home opportunities.please excuse my spelling

Hi JD,

If you go to the link below, you can search the FTC's cases. You can use a terms like "work-at-home" and this should give you a list of cases that involved these kinds of frauds. Hope this is helpful:

http://www.ftc.gov/enforcement/cases-proceedings.

 

East Indian accent man called several times from 222 222-2245 claiming to represent the Department of US Government grants offering 7,000 by western union by paying a 290 deposit that would be returned. An easy 290 for this scammer that is located in WA and should be in jail for fraud. His number is 253 205-8311. A reminder that if it appears unreal, it is. Be careful.

Hi Craig,

I'm sharing some information below that should be helpful to you in this situation:

Here is information on filing a complaint with the FTC about this company/individual. Filing a complaint helps the FTC track these kinds of activities and, while we don't handle individual complaints, the information you and other consumers provide can eventually help us bring these scam artists to justice.

This article provides detailed information on government grant scams - which is what this sounds like.

You may want to consider adding your phone number(s) to the Do Not Call Registry. This will help stop many solicitation calls.

--Lisa

 

Graig, THANK YOU for posting these phone numbers from these scammers. I'm sharing these with the people who have the T-Lock Call Blocker devices so they can be alert. Regards,

why don't you check out focus lc as i have been telling you for over a year now that they scam people out of thousands of dollars for a bs coaching service. they never provided the one page form under the new rule and filing a complaint with the FTC did nothing for me. none of the many government agency's i filed a complaint with did a thing for me. i don't know how you pick and chose what business to investigate but i urge you to investigate this business. what they offer for $12,000. is free and they are dishonest, their program sucks and sets you up to fail.they have many other business calling so you will spend thousands more dollars and they never, never, never refund. check out the complaints on then and see how they deceive people and take their money. it's a sad thing that they take so much money from people and never refund under any circumstance. they take old peoples savings, young peoples hope and single moms chance for helping make ends meet. they ruin peoples lives by the thousands.

Hi Bailey,

Thank you for filing a complaint with us about this company. The information you provided helps us stop scams and other types of dishonest business practices.

However, the FTC does not handle individual complaints. Consumer complaints are essential to us in investigating scams and other fraudulent or unfair business practices. The more complaints we get, the more this helps the FTC take action against these activities to help large numbers of consumers. This is why we need people to tell us if they've been taken in by a scam, or otherwise suspect a company of wrongdoing.

Here is information about our complaint process as well as press releases that include recent actions we've taken against government grant scam artists. Also, here is consumer information on government grant scams that you may find useful.

Again, we appreciate and need your feedback. Please contact us if you need more information.

Regards,

Lisa

I am just wondering if anyone else is getting floods of emails about being a mystery shopper? My husband clicked the link and provided them with his real name and address. They sent him a check for $1,950.00 and told him to deposit the check into his account. Then he is supposed to be a mystery shopper at Walmart, earning $300.00, and buy an item up to the amount of $50.00, and send the remainder of the money to the next mystery shopper on the list. They pay the cost of Western Union fees also. They want him to answer some questions about his experience with Walmart and Western Union, and that's it. This does sound too good to be true, but it also sounds tempting. What could they be getting out of it? Do you have other comments about this practice?

Hi pinkribbonlady,

We DO NOT recommend your husband deposit that check into his account. This sounds very much like a money wiring scam--which is often a part of mystery shopping scams. In either case, your husband and you could lose money and have your personal information compromised.

Please read the two articles at the links provided above before you or your husband do anything else on this. They provide detailed information on how to identify bogus mystery shopping propositions and how to spot a money wiring scheme.

And if you discover this is, in fact, a scam, please file a complaint with the FTC.

--Lisa

There is a new MLM "business opportunity" here in Mobile, AL, named Flexkom USA. It started in Turkey, then went to UK, Netherlands, Germany, Kenya, Trinidad, and Russia.

I researched it on the Internet and found that a lot of people have lost a lot of money on it over there and it is spreading like wild fire now in the U.S.
It has has all of the signs of a Ponzi scheme.

Can the FTC look into this?

Beware of Flexkom! it is a scam. They are after your money. It is nothing but a pyramid game, a ponzi scheme. Don't give them any money.
Flexkom has no real working product. The app and the card are empty hulls. They lack the ability to communicate with a server. They are only designed to fool people, not to be really functioning.
I will list you a couple of proofs that Flexkom is a scam:
• They claim their concept is patented, but there is no patent registered on Flexkom at all. Not in Europe, not in Turkey, not in the whole wide world. Verifiable here: http://worldwide.espacenet.com/
• The European headoffices in Munchen are empty!
• The two certificates on their website are false. EBCON ceased to exist since 2009 and both the Ebcon and the BDS certificate are laughable. These organisations have no more then one employee and exist only to issue certificates to fraudulent MLM companies.
• The counter for the app downloads and card emissions on their website is false. It does not have a connection to a database. When you look at the html code, it is in plain text! So it does not count anything, and can only be altered manually.
There are many more proofs. The concept in itself can not work. No shopkeeper in his right mind will ever buy a system that forces him to maintain tens of thousands of agents who do nothing for him. That will only cost him. The real target of the Flexkom scammers are the wallets of these agents themselves ! By the money (licence fee) they pay to get into the pyramid.
But do not blindly take my word for it. If you are in Flexkom, you have already done that one time too much. Do some research yourself. Use Google ! Do NOT trust what Flexkom tells you. They lie about everything.

Have you heard of FanBox? They show people making $300,000.

I was a FanBox.com member. They recruit members using sleazy tactics like emailing everyone in your address book on Yahoo, Hotmail, or Gmail.
They claim they are invitation only know and new members can't join unless they get a "VISA" number that must be given by another member. Oh yeah, you earn off anyone you invite.
Pyramid-scheme anyone?

Then once you're a member you're told that you will earn $500 the first month because they are a democracy and that's what democracy means.

What they don't say is you will owe this money, plus a money payment on it that isn't interest but is $15 per $1,000 spent for using it. And you need to pay a monthly fee to be a Power User to earn also from $6 to $1500 a month. Plus, you must also let FanBox run an investment portfolio that is funded and refunded for $900. I let them run one on my account to see how fast it earned and it spent itself dry and refunded within one month. So I owed FanBox $15 my first month, without even buying a monthly PowerUser membership.
Last I saw, everyone qualified for a minimum of $2500.

If you go looking for information, they have their volunteers writing fake reviews, fake comments, and they have a ton of fake reviews by fake employees written on Glassdoor.com and other employment sites, to further promote their business and make people feel okay about giving them money and even signing on for a job.

Want to buy a pirated movie, software, e-book, or video game? How about a gift card from Amazon or other monetary value item? You can do it there with your earnings, and don't worry - they won't report what you spend to the IRS or Social Security - only what you cash out and for most people, that won't be much if anything.

They claim they are a start-up, but they've been a start up since 2004.
What a joke.

I filed a complaint with the FTC and so have at least 30+ other people I know of. When will the FTC shut this bad idea that takes advantage of people down? Better hurry they are changing names again in a few months to Empowr.com and continuing the "We're a start-up" thing.

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