In the business world, “leads” refer to the contact information of potential customers. In the scam world, it means the same thing. While scammers find their targets in all kinds of ways, one method is to go to people who have already been victims of a related scheme.
For example, let’s say a company gets you to pay for a work-at-home program, promising that you’ll make a lot of money by starting a new online business. That company may then sell your contact information to a second company. Company #2 then might offer to sell you, say, coaching services that they promise will make your new business a success. In fact, they may just make your wallet even lighter – by thousands of dollars.
The FTC has sued lots of scammers who have sold these kinds of bogus programs and services. In the latest example, earlier this week the FTC announced a lawsuit against Vision Solution Marketing, and others. According to the FTC, these companies fooled people into thinking they would get useful business information to help them make thousands a month working from home. The FTC says these defendants – who took in millions of dollars – bought leads, as described above, from a company that had sold a work-at-home program. (In fact, the FTC settled a case earlier this year against another company, Internet Teaching and Training Specialists, LLC (ITT), the sellers of one of those programs.) In this case, according to the FTC, people on that work-at-home lead list were offered the chance to pay up to $13,995 for a coaching program that would supposedly give them one-on-one guidance about building their new business. But what they got instead was usually just information freely available online. Most people ended up with no functional online business, earned little or no money, and wound up heavily in debt.
The FTC’s lawsuit stops this scheme in its tracks, but the best way to protect yourself from illegal schemes is to learn about how to spot them. You can start by checking out the FTC’s information on work-at-home related scams. And whenever you think you’ve spotted one, tell the FTC.