In the past, Scamraiders has warned the community about people taking advantage of the unemployed with phony work-at-home scams and fake offers of employment. The FTC has announced that it is now taking action to shut down many of these scam companies that prey on honest people just looking to earn a living.
Currently, the Justice Department and state attorneys are persuing criminal action in more than 60 cases, and federal courts have been asked to shut down seven different companies charged with perpetrating such scams. As readers of Scamraiders know, these types of scams aren't new, but according to David Vladeck, director of the FTC's bureau of consumer protection, the current state of the economy has led to a rise in unemployment and therefore, an increase in these cons. Vladeck says, "These are scam artists targeting the most vulnerable people. They are tricking job seekers into parting with their last dollars."
Among the companies facing charges is one called Entertainment Work Inc., which has falsely claimed that in exchange for a membership fee, consumers would be able to find jobs in the entertainment industry near their homes. Another company, Abili-Staff, sold job listings for up to $80, and fraudulently claimed these fees would buy access to over 1,000 "scam-free" work-at-home jobs.
Cathy Wilburn of Grandview, Texas lost her job in October of 2008, and was scammed by a company called Career Hotline, Inc. Wilburn paid an $89 fee to be given access to a list of jobs, but never heard back from the company. "People are desperate for work, but you've got people looking to that advantage of that," Wilburn said.
According to the Labor Department, there are now 14.8 million Americans without jobs, a number which has nearly doubled since the recession began. In addition to those who are jobless, there are another 11 million Americans who are only working part-time, when they would really prefer full-time employment. Sadly, this means there are even more scammers out there, waiting with bait on the hook. The FTC addressing the problem is good, but we need to protect ourselves too. Don't let desperation cloud your judgement, think before you act, do your research, and remember that if it seems too good to be true.... it probably is.