Skip to comments.Take Opportunity To Check Out Possible Scams
Posted on 03/13/2005 7:06:18 AM PST by Sarah
Purveyors of fraud who offered consumers the ``opportunity of a lifetime'' may be getting one of their own: jail time. The Federal Trade Commission has launched ``Project Biz Opp Flop'' to weed out misleading and false work-at- home and business opportunities. Last year, consumers lost more than $100 million to illegal promoters, the FTC estimates. As a result, the U.S. attorney's office for the southern district of Florida has filed criminal complaints against 14 people.
The Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services has joined in and has taken initiatives of its own. Last year, the department fined 16 business opportunity companies a total of $47,000.
``We shop these business opportunities as if we are the consumer. And if they are in technical violation, we go after them with fines,'' said department spokeswoman Liz Compton.
``The ones that are out-and- out scams often disappear before we can find them. That's a huge problem.''
One Woman's Tale
Marci Mendez, of St. Petersburg, thinks she is a victim of a scam. Mendez invested $6,975 in January 2003 for an intense pulsed light device called Youth Light 2010. It's a machine that, according to the sales pitch, was supposed to blast away wrinkles and signs of aging upon the first treatment.
``I gave my client the first treatment and didn't see anything. So I thought, well, let's do the second and third treatment,'' Mendez said. ``By the sixth treatment, I saw absolutely no results.''
The sales pitch also promised advertising and a client list. She never received either one. Mendez said an independent test revealed the light emitting from the machine was no stronger than what you'd find in an ordinary flashlight.
``I am livid. I am so angry,'' Mendez said.
Mendez demanded a refund but never received a response. The phone numbers for the manufacturer and the marketing companies are no longer in service. State records show the corporation that marketed the product dissolved seven months after it started. Mendez has hired an attorney to try and recoup her money.
Cases such as Mendez's are the most frustrating for investigators. ``It's absolutely difficult to get their money back, if not impossible,'' Compton said. Companies ``make all they can in one area and then they slip away. The key to addressing this problem is education.''
Toward that end, consumers should know that business opportunity companies and work-at-home operations must register with Florida's Agriculture and Consumer Services Department. In addition, companies must provide a potential customer with 10 names of people who have also invested in the same ``opportunity'' and live in the same general area. If a company offers a buy back (of equipment, for example) or a guarantee, it must be bonded.
For information about how to check out these types of companies, call 1-800-HELP- FLA.
Call the help line between 11 a.m. and 1 p.m. on weekdays at 1-800-338-0808 for information and/or referral.
caught any fish lately?
The internet job market is FULL as in overflowing, with "opportunities of a lifetime" you simply can't pass up.
Initinally, I was intrigued by several of them and quickly figured out they were opportunities to part you from your savings.
I recently got 35 emails from the same company telling me I could be a health care recruiter and make six figure income. I finally looked at their website and for only a small investment of $27,000 they will send me a starter kit to build my own business.
I had a brother-in-law who fell for the 'you can be a real estate broker' course (and that was $199.00)
I was with my daughter at a friend's and we were watching the TV (we don't have one), we were MESMORISED by the cable advertisements! They go on for around 1/2 hour, with simulated studio audience and everything! Selling weight loss, make-over kits, it was hysterical! They really are well done though, better than regular TV.
The "you can be a real estate broker course" is required by most states. Just make sure the school is a licensed one and you'll be OK. In Florida, the course runs around $250, taking the state exam is extra.
Twenty-seven thousand! That's ridiculous. I know someone who'll send you a kit for ten.
I even saw the ad that ran from 11pm to 12pm. Some young guy saying 'would you like to be a millionaire like me? It's possible, and I have the secret,' etc.
I don't even have any idea if it was a real Broker's course, it literally was a looseleaf notebook and tons of blank forms when he got it.
What you're describing isn't a broker course. It's an investment course.
Broker course is totally different.
I bet I could find them on Ebay for $29.95
Client? This woman runs a business? Or just doing this on-the-side at home? Client assumes payment was exchanged - is she licensed for this? If she's a licensed business shouldn't she be able to write it off as a loss? If she's NOT a business, AND she's charging people, shouldn't the State be looking at HER?