June 16, 2024
The first-person story is about a retired nurse’s work-at-home scam experience, and what she did about it. Learn more about work-at-home businesses here: https://www.consumer.ftc.gov/articles/0175-work-home-businesses

I love my grandkids so much, which is why we ended up eventually moving here to Idaho. I got a phone call one night, and it was a person describing a business opportunity. And at first I just said, no, I don’t think I’m interested, and tried to get him off the phone.

But he was very persistent. They asked me a bunch of personal questions and found out that I was not working. My husband was on disability. Yes, we could use some kind of financial help to give us some more security. And he said, well, we have this opportunity of a business coaching program that I think could really help you.

It’s an online business. You can do it from home. One of the things that sparked me was at the time, I was spending a lot of time on the computer looking at toys for my grandkids, thinking about, oh, they would really like this toy to play with. And so maybe I could sell toys, because that’s something I could get enthusiastic about. Then they said, well, you could potentially make $3,000 to $5,000 a month if you work work hard at this.

With a business opportunity scam, what we see is typically a promise– you’ll make money. You’ll make a lot of money.

They mentioned that there was an investment involved, and I said, well, I need to talk this over with my husband.

What the scammer’s trying to do is make you believe you will be successful– but in order to get there, you need this additional service.

So a period of three nights they talked to us. And on the third night, we just decided that well, maybe this is something I could do. So we bought a $9,000 business coaching program, which gave us 30 business coaching sessions on the phone.

What we’ve seen– from the FTC’s law enforcement experience– is there are no trained coaches. There are no programs. There’s no one who’s been successful.

Then the next phase was I needed a business license, a website. I needed to know how to code, and they could do it for me. They could even preload the products on my website. Whenever I said I wasn’t getting any sales from all this work, they just gave me excuses, like, it takes time. It was $25,000 that I lost– total. Lost.

It’s really important that before you spend a dime, you do research, and do the research online. Do some kind of a search, maybe with the word “complaint,” with the word “scam,” with the word “review.” Contact the Better Business Bureau. Contact your state attorney general’s office. And talk to friends, talk to family.

Talk to others about it, because it will help somebody else.

The Federal Trade Commission deals with issues that touch the economic life of every American. It is the only federal agency with both consumer protection and competition jurisdiction in broad sectors of the economy. The FTC pursues vigorous and effective law enforcement; advances consumers’ interests by sharing its expertise with federal and state legislatures and U.S. and international government agencies; develops policy and research tools through hearings, workshops, and conferences; and creates practical and plain-language educational programs for consumers and businesses in a global marketplace with constantly changing technologies.

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