The Checkout

Work From Home: Worker Beware

Rolando Galvez-Garcia and Kostadin Osvaldo Marte Tavarez had a pretty good little business going. They offered folks "BIG PAYCHECKS Within TWO WEEKS...If you Act NOW!"

The job involved couldn't have been easier: stuffing envelopes at home.

Galvez and Marte, working as Sun Ray Trading Inc. and SR & Associates Inc., claimed on Web sites and in spam to pay $10 plus postage cost for each envelope that was stuffed and mailed, and promised about $550 to $3,000 of income a week.

What their victims quickly discovered, however, was that they were sending out solicitations for more of Galvez and Marte's "business opportunities." They didn't make the money they were promised and weren't even reimbursed for the cost of postage.

By the time the Federal Trade Commission froze Galvez and Marte's assets last year, they had scammed $2.06 million out of their victims. The FTC ordered them to pay the same amount.

Envelope stuffing is a staple of work-at-home scams, whose victims are often those who can least afford to lose any amount of money--senior citizens, women who want to stay home with their children, and the disabled.

Other common varieties include:

* Light assembly work: The finished product, however, is never good enough and victims, in addition to putting up hundreds of dollars for instructions and materials, are never paid for their work.

* Processing medical insurance claims: After buying expensive software and paying for training, victims of this scam find their work is not being processed because of "mistakes" in it.

* E-mail processing: The latest twist on envelope stuffing. According to scambusters.org, victims get instructions on how to spam the same ad they responded to in newsgroups and Web forums.

You can find legitimate work you can do from home but before you sign up with a prospective employer, do your research.

The FTC suggests asking the following:

* What tasks will I have to perform? (Ask the program sponsor to list every step of the job.)
* Will I be paid a salary or will my pay be based on commission?
* Who will pay me?
* When will I get my first paycheck?
* What is the total cost of the work-at-home program, including supplies, equipment and membership fees? What will I get for my money?

You should also check whether anyone has filed a complaint against your prospective employer with the Better Business Bureau and your state attorney general's office.

If you think you've been scammed, you can file a complaint with the FTC, the BBB, the AG's office and the U.S. Postal Service, which investigates mail fraud.

---------------------

Learn more about home-based businesses in washingtonpost.com's new special package: Inside Jobs.

By Annys Shin |  October 23, 2006; 7:00 AM ET Consumer News
Previous: Back to the Stamp Line | Next: What Your Cell Says About You

Comments

Please email us to report offensive comments.



please note, checking with the better business bureau is useless. all they will tell you is if there has been a complaint against that company in the last six months. if the shady company has changed names, who will know? Have YOU ever checked with the better business bureau on anything? I'd be curious to see a column about this standard piece of advice which is not really useful.

Posted by: Washington D.C. | October 23, 2006 8:14 AM

People that get caught up in these scams are naive or have no common sense. All you have to remember is that nothing comes for free and if it sounds too good to be true then it is. $10 per envelope for stuffing envelopes? Puh-leeze, if that were really possible and that lucrative, then half the workforce in America would change careers to be envelope stuffers. Then, the jobs would get so highly competetive, they'd open up envelope-stuffing colleges, and only the best and brightest envelope stuffers would be able to compete in the industry.

The saddest part isn't the scumbags out there perpetuating these scams, it's that there is a large enough segment of our population that are so dumb that they make it worth their while to do it in the first place.

Posted by: Rosslyn | October 23, 2006 8:42 AM

A really good place to get information on working at home is: http://www.wahm.com/index1.html - The OnLine Magazine for Work at Home Moms.

Posted by: sewmrsl | October 23, 2006 9:11 AM

Greed is what drives these businesses. Of course the companies offering these scams a greedy but so are the people who fall for them! They are greedy to get money they have NOT worked for!

Posted by: Ana | October 23, 2006 9:14 AM

with the internet, there's a sucker born every second

Posted by: kungfukoh | October 23, 2006 9:25 AM

$10 per envelope?! Who in their right mind would think that's a legitimate offer?! May be those who fall for this should also buy the new Wilson bridge--great investment!

Posted by: Elle | October 23, 2006 9:28 AM

In 1983 my cousin taught me the best way to make money working from home. Make a list of the things you know how to do. This could be anything, including reading, cooking, typing, Word Processing, or even chopping wood. Pick the skill you know best and like doing most. Now call yourself a "Name Your Skill" Consultant. Spread the word through newspaper ads, bulletin boards, church newsletters, email, word of mouth and a web page. Be prepared for work, this basic formula has supported me for 26 years using a variety of basic skills.

Posted by: thw2001 | October 23, 2006 12:03 PM

In 1983 my cousin taught me the best way to make money working from home. Make a list of the things you know how to do. This could be anything, including reading, cooking, typing, Word Processing, or even chopping wood. Pick the skill you know best and like doing most. Now call yourself a "Name Your Skill" Consultant. Spread the word through newspaper ads, bulletin boards, church newsletters, email, word of mouth and a web page. Be prepared for work, this basic formula has supported me for 23 years, simply using a variety of basic skills.

Posted by: thw2001 | October 23, 2006 12:07 PM

to Rosslyn:
Envelope-stuffing college? Sweet! Can I apply? Better yet, perhaps I'll start one in my basement and charge tuition....

Posted by: h3 | October 23, 2006 12:17 PM

There you go h3, and you can give out nice shiny "diplomas" so people can show they graduated from your highly esteemed institution...

Posted by: Rosslyn | October 23, 2006 1:56 PM

I might pay a couple of bucks just to get one of those diplomas for grins....

Posted by: b | October 23, 2006 2:30 PM

The comments to this entry are closed.

 
 

© 2010 The Washington Post Company