Get Rich Quick?—Not So Fast!


Make $150 an hour!  Solve puzzles & earn money! Start a Home Business with 5-Figure Potential!  Yes, the offers are everywhere promising you an easy way to make lots of money.  Unfortunately, instead of making money, consumers end up losing money, sometimes quite a bit.

The FTC has been conducting ongoing campaigns against scammers who promise easy money.  On April 12, 2012 the FTC won a court judgment against marketers of three get-rich-quick schemes that targeted nearly a million people, many of them financially distressed.  The FTC asked for more than $450 million in monetary relief.

The three get-rich-quick systems were “John Beck’s Free & Clear Real Estate System,” “John Alexander’s Real Estate Riches in 14 Days,” Jeff Paul’s Shortcuts to Internet Millions.”

According to the FTC, the court found that the companies’ infomercials misled consumers and that despite the marketers’ claims of easy money if consumers purchased the systems for $39.95 each, nearly all the consumers who bought them lost money.  The court found that less than one percent of consumers who purchased the systems made any profit whatsoever.

Besides not making any money, consumers who purchased the systems were automatically enrolled in programs that charged recurring fees and cost an extra $39.95 per month.  The court determined that the defendants failed to adequately inform consumers that they would be enrolled in such programs and that they submitted consumers’ payment information without their express informed consent.

The defendants also offered personal coaching services costing up to $14,995 to consumers who purchased the systems claiming that consumers would quickly and easily earn back the cost of the coaching programs and that the coaching would enhance their chances of making money.  The court found that almost all consumers who purchased coaching programs lost money.

In 2011 the FTC took action against companies that promised income ranging from $1200 to $4400 per week stuffing envelopes, that claimed their materials would help people pass the postal exam, that said for a fee of $90 consumers could earn $1 for each postcard they labeled and did not tell consumers they would have to pay for each additional batch of postcards they ordered, that promised for a fee of up to $89.99 consumers would have access to more than 1,000 job listings, that sold trial memberships to a website by falsely telling consumers it listed local jobs as movie and TV extras.  And there are many more.

Here are some tips if you are thinking about following up on a get-rich-quick offer.

1)   Check out the business with your BBB.

2)   Ask the following questions:

What tasks will I have to perform?  (Ask them to list every step of the job.)
Will be paid a salary or will I be paid on commission?
What is the basis for your claims about my likely earnings?
What documents can you show me to prove your claims are true before I give you any money?
Who will pay me?
When will I get my first paycheck?
What is the total cost of this program, including supplies and equipment?
Are there membership fees?
Exactly what will I get for my money?
 

3)   Ask for everything in writing.

4)   Enter the company’s name with the word “complaints” into a search engine.  Read what others have to say about their experience with the company.

For more information you can trust, see

Work-at-Home Scams (Slideshare)

John Beck Amazing Profits Not So Amazing

FTC Helps Those Seeking Business or Work-at-Home Opportunities

Work-at-Home Scam Warning

Two New Work-at-Home Re-Shipping Scams


Written by

Jackie is the Operations and Education Foundation Assistant with the BBB. She assists consumers with business inquiries, and does presentations to senior groups and high school students. She is a regular contributor to the blog.

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