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SCAMS
101

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Friends In Business
& Scams 101


Clerical
Work-At-Home
Scams

Typing, Data Entry,
Transcription, "Filling Out Forms"
and other such stuff

 
most closely resembling pond scum,
these toads target moms who just want to be home with their kids


Wow.  The guy who asked me what I know about a web site offering home-based data entry "jobs" (choke sputter) really opened the floodgates!  I posted my feature-length reply on the message board, and after I stopped foaming at the mouth, I decided to turn my answer into an article. 

It just isn't sensible to target these "opportunities" by name out here on the web, because they like to threaten you with Federal Court.... but in this one itsy bitsy case, I just couldn't help myself. 

See, my theory is this: 

Pond Scum.... (and I'm not saying this particular one is Pond Scum, I'm only talking about the ones that really ARE Pond Scum, let me make myself really clear on that)....

What?  Oh yes....

Pond Scum already knows it's green.... (unless it happens to be the Miracle Blue-Green Algae of "Dead Doctors Don't Lie" fame, in which case it thinks it's medicine, but I digress).... and Pond Scum doesn't really like to go to court, Federal or otherwise.  They just want to rake in as much money as they can for as long as they can 'til the Feds shut 'em down.... then they pick a new name, get a new mailbox, and do it all over again.  So I have no qualms about sending you to the web site.  None at all. 

Well, maybe one. 

If I give you their URL, you have to PROMISE to come right back here, okay?  You are NOT allowed to send any money until you finish studying this lesson.  (It's not that I don't think you're smart, but these things can be SO convincing.  And with that official-looking insignia on the front page.... I mean, hell, I almost wrote them a check myself!)  You promise?  Okay then. 

Hang onto your hat!  This is Your Big Chance To Be A Stay-Home Mom!! working for A.V.I. Data Processing Center (a Division of Nationwide Collection Services) (formerly aviathome.com). 

Yes, I know the link is dead.  It's 2006 now, and aviathome.com is no more.  Are we surprised?  Nope.  Like so many other scumbeezles, their lawyers threatened me with federal court and other ugly things (the scummier they are, the louder they scream).  Even though they're gone, their example lives on.  I haven't changed a thing because when one dies, six more are waiting to take its place, and they're all pretty much identical if you just learn to read between the lines.)

Before I pick this "opportunity" apart line by line, I want to be sure you understand.... it is NOT unique  Not by a long shot.  Sometimes it's data entry, and sometimes it's typing.  Sometimes you find it on a web page, sometimes you find it in your email box, and sometimes it shows up in your snailmailbox or on your fax machine.  One is as bad as the other, so don't just tear up the ad and take my word for it.... I want you to take the time, right here and now, to learn to read between the lines.

Following is my assessment of this particular offer and every other one like it.  I don't take this stuff lightly, being a diehard work-at-home mom who got her education in "The School of Hard Knocks and Total Financial Ruin" (if you haven't already read The Gruesome Details, now would probably be a good time).


DISCLAIMER:  FEDERAL COURT JUDGE PLEASE READ! . . .  What follows is my own interpretation of this type of "opportunity."  I do not claim it to be fact.  Absolutely not!  I could be 100% wrong, and I'll be the first to admit that.  And furthermore, I am only using A.V.I. as an example.... an analogy.... a "what if?" if you will.  I am not implying for one minute that they are doing anything shady.  It's just an unfortunate fact that SOME of the work-at-home offers that read a whole lot like theirs aren't exactly.... well, um.... real.  (I'm trying to be gentle here.)  Theirs could be 100% real.  I have NEVER had any personal dealings with them and don't claim otherwise.  I chose their offer to pick apart because it was just so darn convincing.  It could be perfectly legit.  (Anybody know how to write "just peachy" in Latin?)


How best to tackle this?  I guess I'll quote little snippets from their web site.... will that work for you?  Just to be sure I give credit where credit is due, the stuff in italics is Copyrighted stuff, owned by A.V.I. Data Processing Center (a Division of Nationwide Collection Services) (www.aviathome.com).  I don't claim it as my own, are we all perfectly clear on that? 

Okey dokey.  Let's get started:

"As a business our efforts are to aid the Petitioner or Respondent in collecting the judgment awarded from a Court of Law against the party who has refused to obey the Court Order."


Try this:  "As a business, our efforts are to sell you our $150 package with our swiss-cheese guarantee, and by the time you catch on, you'll be SOL" (that's Sh-- Outta Luck).

"Because of increasing case loads we had to make a decision.  Either expand our in-house data entry division and continue working as we have in the past, costing us millions, or find an alternative."


Golly whiz!  This sounds suspiciously like every other rip-off "Work At Home" company.  Nothing original here.

"Through our research the alternative was simple, follow the current trend of working with home based individuals, just like you, to perform the data entry work."


That is actually a fairly logical solution.  Lots of companies are doing this, my own medical transcription service included.  Yup.

"We win because of the money we save on expenses, while continuing to reach our companies goal for national expansion."


Allow me to expound on that a bit:  "We win because of the money we soak you, our faithful suck--" oops, sorry.... "--our faithful WORKers." 

Wait, you ninnies!  You don't expand nationally by hiring home workers nationally.... you expand nationally by getting CUSTOMERS nationally!

Oh, but you're doing that, aren't you?  You are selling your product (a manual and some software masquerading as a job) to national customers (masquerading as workers).  Yes, I forgot that.

"By incorporating people who are willing to work with their own equipment, the company saves on the enormous expense for increasing office space, work stations and all the other costs involving in-house employees."


Yup yup yup.  Every word is true.  Except you can do the same thing by "incorporating people" IN YOUR LOCAL AREA.  That way, you even have the opportunity to "keep an eye on them."  It's amazing the way it works.  Lots of legitimate companies are doing exactly that, my own included.

"With this program, you are the boss, the only demands are accuracy, and that you complete the work within the agreed upon time."


But you don't complete the work for THEM within an agreed-upon time.  They forgot to tell you that you complete the work for THE CLIENTS YOU FIND ON YOUR OWN within the agreed-upon time.  Probably.  Maybe.  I think.  (Remember, I never said none'a dis was faxx, boss!)

"The number of opportunities in each area are limited.... "


Yeah, right.  Limited only by how long it takes the government to close you down.  (Sorry, just a guess.  Oh golly.... Disclaimer!Disclaimer!Disclaimer!)

"Due to the enormous national response of our program, we do not have the staff to respond to every preliminary phone inquiry."


Preliminary = before we get the cash.

AFTER we get the cash, on the other hand, we will gladly respond, because by then it's too late.  You're trapped.  But you haven't figured out yet that our guarantee is worthless (ooopsie doodle, I meant, "....that you completely misunderstood our guarantee and that makes it your problem, not ours"), and it's to our advantage to stall you as long as possible.  In fact, we'll probably tell you it's your fault for expecting the Bluebird of Happiness to poop money on your head without having to work for it.

"HOW YOU QUALIFY. You must own or have access to a Personal Computer and quality printer. Be familiar with the basics of Word Processing and Data Base entry programs. (You will be provided with customized easy to use, load and go software). Complete the number of data entries and printouts you have agreed to enter and mail out weekly."


Translation:.... "Got 150 bucks?"

"Simply put, enter the court provided names, addresses, award amounts and case numbers of the Petitioners and Respondents into the data base form, merge that into seven form notices and print out.  Place the completed printouts of the forms in the postal service.  You will receive $20.00 pay for each secured client assignment.  Therefore, work fifty assignments per month and receive $1,000.00, one hundred assignments will equal $2,000.00 per month and so on."


Shazaam!!!  Are they really going to pay you $20.00 for that???

No, they're not.  YOUR clients are. 

If you can find any.

They don't have any clients.  They have customers . . .

You.

If they really wanted people to do this easy work FOR THEM, they would have local stay-at-home moms standing in line for the opportunity.  A little bitty three-line classified ad in their local paper would get them all the help they could possibly use the first time around, and after that, word-of-mouth would do it.  This is basically unskilled labor, after all.  Just about anybody can punch a computer these days.

"We impose no limits on the number of assignments you want to work."


Why should they?  You aren't working for them, and they're never going to pay you a dime.  In fact, once you get this great package of junk you can't return, you'll never hear from them again (unless they have something else to sell you, like the opportunity to become a Certified something).

"The time needed to complete each client assignment will depend on your equipment and typing speed."


And on the arrangement you make with the clients you find. 

If you find any.

"Complete the application form, sign and return with a refundable deposit of $150.00."


On second thought, screw the application form.

Just send the money.

"The deposit is for the supplies, software and materials"


Worth maybe 50 cents.  (Just a wild guess.)  (Disclaimer!Disclaimer!Disclaimer!)

"and to assure us of your legitimate interest and commitment in wanting this opportunity."


But if we put on our thinking caps, we would realize that if we hired local people, we could send the work home with them (just around the corner even!), and if they didn't get it done on time.... well then, we'd replace 'em.  It wouldn't take long to figure out if they were really interested or committed. 

Businesses have been hiring employees and subcontractors this way since money was invented, after all.

Leave it to us to reinvent the wheel!

"Your deposit money will be returned to you after you have worked 50 client assignments per our instructions within 60 days from receiving our software supplies and materials."


EWWWWWWWWW!!!

Go immediately to The Anatomy of a Worthless Guarantee

Here's the noose (oops, of course I meant loophole):

When you find out that all they are sending you is a pile of instructions and some software, and that you have to spend money to advertise, and you have to find your own clients and your own "assignments," and they aren't going to pay you a penny now or ever, and they misled you (maybe) (well, I really don't know) (DISCLAIMER!)....

you'll decide you don't want to do it after all.

Oh, you will be HOPPING MAD!!!

But when you ask for your refund, they'll tell you, "No."  And since there's not a damn thing you can do about it, you'll file in on the shelf with all your other Broken Dreams and Dust Bunnies.

Like I said, it's the "SOL Guarantee."


LET'S SEE HOW THIS MEASURES UP TO A TYPICAL TYPE-AT-HOME SCAM:


The particular one I'm thinking of was in San Marcos, California, just six miles from home.... but they're all pretty much the same.  I corresponded with a lady for WEEKS about it, trying to convince her not to send her money.  She did it anyway and promised to tell me how it turned out.  (This one only wanted 42 bucks.)  Well, I never heard from her again, so I emailed her.  It bounced back.  I tried to hunt down the company and found out they had been shut down by the postal authorities.  But I don't think the loss of their business was too hard on them.... I understand they had already opened shop in Florida at that point. 

Shortly after that frustrating encounter, I searched the web for anything I could find on this kind of "opportunity," and I came up with another name:  Douglas Clerical.  It was in a message posted by one Bob Pietruszewski.  Here is the email I wrote to Bob:

Hello. 

I have an anti-scam site called "Scams 101," and I saw your post on the Scam Patrol board.  I am really interested in this, because I corresponded with a lady who was signing up with a company in San Marcos, CA (just a couple of miles from my home), supposedly to type forms -- delivered by FedEx every Friday, "due" back the following Friday.  I tried to convince her it was a scam, but she decided to go ahead with it.  She promised to let me know how it turned out, and of course when I tried to reach her again, her email address had changed, and I can't find hide nor hair of the company -- West Coast International. 

Even if this is a different company, I have no doubt they operate the same way, and I would be grateful for any information you could provide.  If the package is sitting on your shelf gathering dust and they are still advertising, I would like to buy it from you -- planning to write a book on the subject of biz op scams one day. 

Thanks for anything you can tell me.  :-)  Lesley Fountain


Well, it's been my experience that not many people will take the time to reply when they've already lost their money.... but Bob did:

Hello there: 

Yes, I still have the disk but I am saving it as a reminder of never to send money for work again.  That site you mentioned West Coast International, I also requested information on their operating via e-mail and got an error message that it no longer exists as well.  I was told by the police out there that they closed her operation down but she is now operating out of Florida and is charging $50 instead of $40. 

All I got was a disk with about 280 forms on them explaining everything from what to do if the postal inspector calls to how to place ads in newspapers.  Her ad is very deceiving and what you get is totally unrelated to what you expect to get.  I was told I would get work every Tuesday or Thursday and expected to have it back to them in one week.  My postage would be paid as well as being provided with mailing envelopes to send it back. 

If you have any more questions, feel free to write and I will gladly answer them for you. 

Bob Pietruszewski


I'm still an "opportunity seeker" at heart, and I couldn't stand to let it go at that.  Details!  I wanted details!!

So I sent off the following list of questions:

1.  What kind of forms??

2.  What to do if the postal inspector calls and why would he call?

3.  What kind of ads??

4.  How did she cover herself on the part about receiving work every Tuesday or Thursday???

5.  Did it sound like THEY would be paying you??  And like THEY sent the work to you and you sent it back to THEM??  When in actuality you were peddling some service to businesses or what??

6.  Did you find out about Douglas Clerical on the internet??


Another great reply with all the gory details.  (Thanks, Bob!  Not many people are willing to go to this much trouble once they've already said good-bye to their money.)

Dear Lesley:

I hope I can answer your questions. 

First of all there are two disks sent to you.  On the disk are forms which you can print such as How to Start Your Own Rubber Stamp Business; What to do if you get a letter from the postal inspector and how to reduce your advertising costs along with approximately 280 more.

Her response of what to do when the postal inspector calls is to shut down your mail box immediately.  She says that is all the postal authorities are interested in is putting a stop to your operation.  As to why would he call she doesn't give an explanation for that.

She states in her original ad that you will be receiving typing every Tuesday and Thursday and you have a seven day turnaround time not including delivery to her office.  When you get the disks from her she states the typing is you printing the forms out and filling them in to send to customers who seek information on how to start a small business or how to cut advertising costs or how to avoid pyramid schemes, etc.

The postage is paid by the people who send you postage paid envelopes for these forms.  You simply print the form with the information they are after and send it back to them in the postage paid envelope they send you.

As for work coming every Tuesday or Thursday I assume I would be waiting for people to send me requests in the mail for the information I advertise.  I place an ad for the information on those forms in the paper or on the Internet and wait for the people to respond.

As for getting paid every Friday again I assume that means that people would be sending me checks with the request for forms.  What it sounded to me was that they would be sending me typing and I would be performing the work, printing it and sending it back to them within seven days.  That is the way I took it anyway.  All I was supposed to be doing wit these disks containing the forms was peddling them on the Internet or in the paper and waiting for the mail to arrive with the requests and the checks.

I found out about Douglas on the Internet.  My advice which you should stress during any interview is that if a service even requests you to send them $1 for work, it is a fraud and to be ignored.  Since when does it cost an employee money to pay someone up front for work is a better way of putting it.  I have since been contacted by a bank in Tokyo who wanted me to work for them in the same manner but they wanted me to send $100 as "good faith" money that I wanted to work.  I have received three requests for my services as a at-home clerk/typist.  I always write them back sarcastically....

Bob


If this sounds like "sour grapes" to you.... like maybe Bob is lazy and you're not so it's bound to be different in your case.... then I suspect you're suffering from an extreme case of "Want To Believe Syndrome."  Click here to read more about this common-yet-deadly ailment.


NOW LET'S GET BACK TO A.V.I. (AVIATHOME), SHALL WE?....


Did you notice they give only a box number?? 


Many times these crooks are nothing BUT a box number.  It's probably (DISCLAIMER!) not a home or a business establishment, but a private mailbox.  (New postal regulations require everyone to show these addresses as a PMB, so it won't be so easy to fool people; that has its disadvantages to those of us who are honest, but it's bound to do some damage to the criminals, so I'm not complaining too much.)

And they don't give a phone number.


They won't answer questions in advance, because if you find out what you're really getting, you aren't going to send them your money.  And that'd be a real shame, since without it they've got nothing since there aren't really any clients and their business.... their ONLY business.... is (probably) (DISCLAIMER!) selling the information and the software.

Legitimate companies hire home workers locally.  They NEVER EVER charge the home worker money for instructions, supplies, or "sincerity."

One exception to the "local" rule.... (and I am currently investigating another possible exception which I will be THRILLED to share on this web site when I know for sure it's legit).... are the huge medical transcription companies.  They hire people all over the country because these people connect, by phone, to hospitals and clinics all over the place, and they transcribe right through the phone line, so this makes sense from a phone-bill point of view.  (Generally the typist pays her own phone bill, and you aren't going to find too many local people willing to connect to a hospital on the opposite coast for six hours a day on their dime.)

Note that these companies are NOT "expanding their businesses nationally" by hiring these people nationally.... they are expanding their businesses nationally by getting PAYING CLIENTS nationally.  The home workers are just there to get the work done.  Without these workers, the work would not get done, the client would not pay, and the company would not make any money. 

That's why they're PAYING their workers instead of CHARGING their workers.

The money comes from.... gasp!.... the clients.


HERE'S HOW LEGITIMATE LONG-DISTANCE THINGS USUALLY WORK:


When you sign up to work for these big companies, you either take your computer to them and they put in all the programs you need and teach you how to work them (free), or you download what you need from the internet (free).  Then you go to work. 

YOU DO NOT PAY THEM ANYTHING.

You are working FOR THEM.

Doing work for THEIR CLIENTS.

THEY WOULD NOT MAKE ANY MONEY WITHOUT YOU.

The money flows ONE WAY and ONE WAY ONLY:  Client to Company to Worker.

Kinda like the food chain:  Here in "the burbs," the cat eats the mouse.  The coyote eats the cat.  It is VERY unlikely that the the mouse will eat the coyote.

(How that relates I haven't the slightest idea, but I like it so it stays.)

Remember.... NOBODY cares diddly squat about making you successful and letting you stay home with your kids.  They care about their bottom line, and advertising for "national home workers" and charging them for a "job" just isn't the way real companies do it.  If it were, Sears Catalog clerks would all be taking orders from home in their jammies instead of standing on their feet all day.

Whoosh!!

This one really took a lot out of me.

Take me back to the Scams 101 Index!

Listen to MaaMaw!     

Are you an Internet Marketing Wannabe?  Have you tried slogging through truckloads of how-to information and found the whole thing so overwhelming you can't quite bring yourself to actually DO anything?  Help is on the way!

There's a new course that really pulls it all together, condensing years of money-making experience into a wonderful step-by-step, hand-holding, checklist-style, kick-in-the-pants teaching format.  If you have a shred of motivation, you'll be amazed to find yourself actually (gasp!) moving forward.

                                                    So pack up those tired old excuses and check it out . . . . .


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PROTECT YOURSELF FROM SCAMS!  Research all business opportunities thoroughly, and never blow off other people's bad experiences.  Ask around (and listen!).  The Scams101 Message Board is a good place to start.  What's that?  You've found a Biz Op and you're wondering if it's endorsed by FIB?...  Not unless it's listed in MaaMaw's Magnificent Toolbox.





Me & Katie
HERE'S WHERE TO FIND ME:

  Lesley Fountain                          Click Here to Send an Email
  P. O. Box 542                                  Phone:  (707) 682-0303
  Fortuna, CA  95540                                          ↓        ↓        ↓

 Some days I get so many calls that email is my only hope of responding
  in a timely manner.....   PLEASE leave your email address when you call.

Copyright 1998-2007 by Lesley Fountain.  All Rights Reserved.
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SCAMS
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