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FTC shuts down several work at home scam companies

(Business News) The work at home scams are numerous, but the FTC has cornered a handful of them, settling for over $55.3 million. We’ll see what this means in the long run.

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Work from home – legit or not?

Many companies, particularly tech startups, have work from home programs, wherein employees can spend all or part of their time outside of the office, and it is an increasingly popular work option. There are also jobs, again, primarily in tech, where skilled workers can earn $40 and hour.

But people continue to fall for the work at home scheme that promises them $79 and hour just for sitting at their computer, no skill required, no real work required, just breathe and be rewarded, just have $40 in your bank account and give them access to your financials, no biggie. No job that pays that well comes searching for low-level employees – they don’t need to. Well paying jobs are available for qualified candidates who reach out to the recruiting company and jump through the hoops.

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Regardless of how obvious some of the scams are to you and me, many people do fall victim to the work at home scheme, so the U.S. Federal Trade Commission (FTC) has shuttered several of the scams in an effort to protect consumers.

These are straight up scams

In a 2012 FTC complaint, several businesses offering “mystery shopper” jobs and other “business opportunities” were actually scams to trick consumers into joining programs that required recurring monthly charges, despite that being unclear at the onset.

This week, the Commission has settled with several of the companies and individuals named in the complaint, including Shopper Systems LLC, Revenue Works LLC (also known as “Surplus Supplier”), EMZ Ventures LLC, The Veracity Group LP, Brett Brosseau, Michael Moysich, and Keith R. Powell.

These companies will never pony up

The total sum of the settlements is over $55.3 million, and all parties are now banned from selling “business or work-at-home opportunities,” and most are now prohibited from sending unsolicited text messages.

The FTC acknowledges that it is likely that less than $500,000 will ever be paid, as the scammers have already had their assets frozen, liquidated, or surrendered, and many of the companies are now defunct.

Three outcomes of this settlement

We suspect three outcomes: (1) going forward, the CFPB (Consumer Finance Protection Bureau) will handle these types of scams, and they’re not playing around, (2) these scammers will resurrect themselves and do something unrelated like vitamin sales or whatnot, and (3) the settlement will not raise awareness of the potential victims, rather of those around them with common sense enough to know that there is no such thing as a free lunch.

Note: About.com’s Alison Doyle has complied a useful guide to spotting and avoiding work at home scams.

The American Genius (AG) is news, insights, tools, and inspiration for business owners and professionals. AG condenses information on technology, business, social media, startups, economics and more, so you don’t have to.

Business News

Amazon is extending its takeover to sportswear

(BUSINESS NEWS) As Amazon continues its quest for total retail dominance, they are beginning to try their hand with sportswear.

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Because Amazon won’t settle until it controls every single market ever, the online retailing giant is, reportedly, gearing up to start offering its own sportswear line.

Rumors that the company might get into the workout gear game started circulating earlier this year when the company posted job listings for brand managers to help create “authentic activewear private label brands.”

They hired a brand manager for athletic wear in January.

Amazon has already been dabbling in the world of fashion, having created eight clothing brands since early last year, including a men’s shirt brand called Buttoned Down that is offered to Prime customers.

Insiders say that, while no long-term contracts have been signed so far, Amazon is negotiating with Makalot Industrials Co., a producer that makes sportswear for Gap, Uniqlo, and Kohl’s, as well as Eclat Textile Co., who provides textiles for Nike, Lululemon, and Under Armour.

Both Makalot and Eclat are based in Taiwan.

Apparently, these manufacturers are making small test batches for Amazon so they can run a trial on the concept. The fact that Amazon is working with experts in this market means they are serious about making a competitive, quality product.

Amazon currently sells about $10 billion worth of apparel, making it a serious competitor with brick-and-mortar retailers.

The workout wear market is a pretty big deal, so it would obviously be profitable if Amazon can come out with a good product. Customers are already crazy about Amazon’s online convenience and quick delivery, so they may be happy to find more options for sneakers and yoga pants.

On the other hand, private label brands that Amazon is already selling, such as Goodthreads and Lark & Ro may feel betrayed. Other sportswear brands can’t be too pleased either, with Nike reporting declines this quarter and Under Armour reducing its annual sales forecast.

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Ending a dismal year, Samsung says goodbye to CEO

(BUSINESS NEWS) Following a tumultuous year, Samsung now must face their CEO, Kwon Oh-hyun, stepping down.

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Among exploding phones, recalled washing machines and an indicted former chairman, Samsung has had a rough year. Just as they start to get back on track, they have one more crisis to deal with.

Kwon Oh-hyun, Samsung CEO, has officially announced his departure.

In a letter to the employees, Kwon announced his plans to leave the company by March of next year. His words touch on all of the typical sentiments, like that he “had been thinking long and hard about (leaving) for quite some time,” and that he wants to “move on to the next chapter in his life.”

What Kwon doesn’t make clear are his exact reasons for leaving.

He mentions that Samsung is in an “unprecedented crisis inside and out,” without sharing any specifics. Via his own words, Samsung needs to reshape their company to keep up with the ever-changing IT industry.

Kwon believes that young, fresh leadership could be the answer that Samsung needs.

Though Kwon’s departure may seem like another hit for the company, it could be a new chapter for Samsung as well.

And it is a change they desperately need. Recently, Samsung has made the headlines with scandal after scandal.

Earlier this year, Jay Y. Lee, former Vice chairman, was found guilty on multiple charges of bribery. The charge, which Lee is now serving five years in prison for, also resulted in the impeachment of South Korean President Park Geun-hye.

Samsung also lived through two major recalls this year. They officially took the Galaxy Note 7 off of the market after various accusations of batteries overheating led to fires.

Samsung also recalled 2.8 million washing machines because their “violent vibrations” caused some users to be injured.

Major scandals like these are enough for any company to flop. However, Samsung is still in the game. Kwon’s letter calls for the company to start anew, which is exactly what they need to do to stay afloat.

Of course, creating devices that do not cause injuries and fires will be a start. In addition, new leadership will keep the company relevant and hopefully, revive their reputation.

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Business News

Identity-protecting roller stamps are a must for any office

(BUSINESS NEWS) Your identity is one of the most valuable things, that’s why Guard Your ID has created a stamp for when shredders won’t work.

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The massive Equifax hack made nearly everyone feel vulnerable, but the truth is that every day we knowingly engage in activity that puts our privacy at risk.

Just think of how many times you give up your telephone number when signing up for a new magazine subscription. Or the numerous times you thoughtlessly threw away mail containing confidential information.

There are so many opportunities to accidentally reveal private information but luckily, there are an equal number of ways to prevent it. Though you may think that identity theft could never happen to you, it’s better to be safe than sorry.

Of the various tools invented to help you protect your identity, one of the newest is actually very simple. The company Guard Your ID has recently introduced privacy protection rollers and stamps. These gadgets are simple, quick and effective to help shield your identity on virtually anything.

The oil-based ink works on both glossy and non-glossy surfaces without smearing or rubbing off. These stamps work by creating an encrypted pattern which makes text unreadable.

Though shredding is another effective way to protect your identity, the rollers and stamps are more environmentally friendly. At some centers, shredded paper cannot be accepted as recyclable material. In addition, you can stamp more things that you can shred.

For example, you may want to cover up a label on a prescription bottle. The protection stamps are more versatile than shredding, and also more cost effective.

An Identity Protection Stamp can be purchased for under $20 and has a shelf life of 2-3 years. A wide format roller is also available for larger surfaces. In addition, refillable ink can be bought for the wide rollers.

It may seem like a nuisance to start stamping every label, bank statement and mail that contains any piece of private information on it, but in the end, it may be worth it. Just think of how much time you will spend freezing your accounts and recovering your identity if it is stolen.

It may seem silly, but today even a simple stamp goes a long way in protecting your identity.

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