With 15 million Americans out of work, authorities are scrambling to keep up with con artists who offer bogus business opportunities to people desperate for money.
The Federal Trade Commission recently announced seven new cases against promoters of job and money-making scams, including one they say victimized more than 100,000 people. It involved applying for grants or mailing postcards from home.
The agency also announced 62 actions taken by the Department of Justice, the Postal Inspection Service and state attorneys general.
And inquiries to the Better Business Bureau of Central California about companies that promise jobs or income more than doubled last year.
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"Because of the economy, more people are desperate and looking for anything that's out there," said bureau chief executive Doug Broten.
The FTC says people usually run across the scams on the Internet, through classified ads or direct mailings.
"These scams can be tough to spot. Scammers advertise the same way legitimate ones do," said David C. Vladeck, director of the FTC's Bureau of Consumer Protection. They take many forms, including ways to make money from home. A growing number of dishonest pitches promise to teach people to do medical billing from home. Stuffing envelopes and assembling crafts or toys at home are frequently fraudulent, he said.
The businesses often tell workers they can earn a good income working only a few hours a day, he said. The companies either charge for training materials or to send a list of companies that need those services.
-- The Fresno Bee