Cracking Down on Contrepreneurs
It’s tough enough to find a job or start your own business, even without scammers trying to take advantage. Today the FTC announced a major federal and state crackdown on scams that target people looking for jobs, extra income, or the chance to run their own business. The phony offers included “opportunities” to start a business as a mystery shopper, credit card processor, or website operator, and promised big earnings.
Many of the scams targeted people online. For example:
Shopper Systems: In this case, the company’s ads — including text messages, websites, and ads on online employment websites — allegedly sold the opportunity to provide mystery shopping services to retailers. People who signed up were then persuaded to buy into yet another phony business opportunity operating a webstore.
The Online Entrepreneur: People who bought into this opportunity were allegedly told it was a no-risk, money-back guaranteed opportunity to make money running a website that would be affiliated with the sites of “big companies” like Prada and Sony. Commissions would supposedly be earned when people clicked through the sites to make purchases.
Whatever the pitch, remember: before you put money into a business opportunity, do some research and make sure you’re getting all the information you’re entitled to. Under the recently updated Business Opportunity Rule, business opportunity sellers are required to provide specific information to help you evaluate a business opportunity, including using a simple, one-page disclosure form.