It sounded like a perfect set-up. You could work independently from your home and visit retail stores to make money as a mystery shopper to check on store employees and then report back to their bosses. But it was an elaborate scam that took money from people who wanted to earn money and left them with very little.
The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) says a group of companies and individuals sent text messages and advertised on the web claiming, “Mystery Shoppers Make Up to $150 a Day,” and “Make Insane Profit.”
When people responded, the scammers used telemarketers, based in Sri Lanka, to make their pitch. The sales people, working from a script created by the their U.S. bosses, promised a list of stores close to home and said those who signed up would earn $50 for a store visit.
To participate, you had to pay $2.95 for a seven-day trial period. After that, you were charged $49.95 a month to get access to the list.
But it didn’t end there. There was another pitch. Those who signed on also had the chance to get a personal webstore, designed by one of the companies, with products supplied by another company. Again, there was a short trial period, and then another $49.95 a month was charged.
Once people realized there was nothing in it for them, the FTC says it was very difficult to get refunds and stop the monthly payments.
The FTC charged Shopper Systems LLC, Revenue Works LLC (also doing business as Surplus Supplier), EMZ Ventures LLC, The Veracity Group LP, Brett Brosseau, Michael Moysich and Keith R. Powell with misleading consumers and deceptive practices.
The good news is that the FTC reached a settlement that imposes a judgment of more than $40.5 million against the defendants and their companies. The settlement also bans them from participating in similar types of businesses.
In addition, the FTC filed an amended complaint adding Concept Rocket LLC and Shopper Select LLC as defendants, and Georgia Farm House Land Holdings LLC, PKP Holdings, Stephanie Powell, and Sportsmen of North America LP as defendants who profited from the scheme but did not participate in it.
HAVE YOU RUN ACROSS A WORK AT HOME SCHEME LIKE THIS?
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