Envelope-stuffing gimmicks pop up everywhere — in mailboxes, e-mail inboxes, newspaper ads and more, the Federal Trade Commission said Tuesday in joining with the Postal Service and Council of Better Business Bureaus to highlight the fraud.
Promoters usually advertise that, for a "small" fee, they will tell people how to earn money stuffing envelopes at home. They claim they'll pay for each envelope stuffed, leading people to believe they will earn hundreds or thousands of dollars each week, the government said.
The ads may seem appealing for those wanting a home-based business. But according to the commission, these ads are misleading because the promoters aren't really offering a job.
Instead, the government said, after people send their money, they're likely to get a letter telling them to place the same "envelope-stuffing" ad in newspapers or magazines, or to send the ad to friends and relatives. The only way they'll earn money is if people respond to their ad. The government said the promoters rarely pay anyone.
The government said dissatisfied consumers should contact the company and ask for a refund.
The FTC, in an effort to crack down on work-at-home business opportunity fraud, recommends people tempted by an envelope-stuffing "opportunity" ask promoters these questions before sending any money or signing up:
The government also recommends people check out the company with their local consumer protection agency, state attorney general and the Better Business Bureau.
Work-at-home business opportunity fraud ranked seventh in the commission's 2002 Top 10 consumer fraud complaint database, the FTC said.