The Federal Trade File a scam complaint Commission is responsible for issuing and enforcing rules for consumer issues on the Internet. As part of this process, the FTC has published a list of the 12 scams you are most likely to receive as email. There are also very strict rules, known as the CAN-SPAM Act, regulating bulk email marketing.
These business opportunities make it sound easy to start a business that will bring lots of income without much work or cash outlay. The solicitations trumpet unbelievable earnings claims $1,000 a day or more without doing any work. Many business opportunity solicitations claim to offer a way to make money in an Internet-related business.
Short on details but long on promises, these messages usually offer a telephone number to call for more information. In many cases, you’ll be told to leave your name and telephone number so that a salesperson can call you back with the sales pitch. The scam: Many of these are illegal pyramid schemes masquerading as legitimate opportunities to earn money.
Bulk email solicitations offer to sell you lists of email addresses, by the millions, to which you can send your own bulk solicitations. Some offer software that automates the sending of email messages to thousands or millions of recipients. Others offer the service of sending bulk email solicitations on your behalf. Some of these offers say, or imply, that you can make a lot of money using this marketing method.
The problem: Sending bulk email violates the terms of service of most Internet service providers. If you use one of the automated email programs, your ISP may shut you down. In addition, inserting a false return address into your solicitations, as some of the automated programs allow you to do, may land you in legal hot water with the owner of the address’s domain name.
You’re asked to send a small amount of money ($5 to $20) to each of four or five names on a list, replace one of the names on the list with your own, and then forward the revised message via bulk email. The letter may claim that the scheme is legal, that it’s been reviewed or approved by the government; or it may refer to sections of U.S. law that legitimize the scheme.
The scam: Chain letters are almost always illegal and nearly all of the people who participate lose their money. The fact that a “product” such as a report on how to make money fast may be changing hands in the transaction does not change the legality of these schemes.
Envelope-stuffing solicitations promise steady income for minimal labor-for example, you’ll earn $2 each time you fold a brochure and seal it in an envelope. Craft assembly work schemes often require an investment of hundreds of dollars in equipment or supplies, and many hours of your time producing goods for a company that has promised to buy them.
The scam: You’ll pay a small fee to get started in the envelope-stuffing business. Then, you’ll learn that the email sender never had real employment to offer. Instead, you’ll get instructions on how to send the same envelope-stuffing ad on your own. If you earn any money, it will be from others who fall for the scheme you’re perpetuating.