Tuesday, March 2, 2010
FTC Cracks Down on Con Artists Who Target Jobless Americans
Scams Prey on Victims of the Recession With Bogus Job, Money-Making Schemes
The Federal Trade Commission today announced a new crackdown on con artists who are preying on unemployed Americans with job-placement and work-at-home scams, promoting empty promises that they can help people get jobs in the federal government, as movie extras, or as mystery shoppers; or make money working from their homes stuffing envelopes or assembling ornaments.
With the U.S. unemployment rate just under 10 percent, the FTC is redoubling its efforts to put a stop to these schemes, which make life even more difficult for hundreds of thousands of Americans already wrestling with the economic downturn.
As part of the law enforcement sweep announced today, dubbed “Operation Bottom Dollar,” the FTC has filed seven cases against the operators of deceptive and illegal job and money-making scams and announced developments in four previously filed job scam cases. In addition, the sweep includes 43 criminal actions by the Department of Justice, many involving the substantial assistance of the U.S. Postal Inspection Service, as well as one additional civil action by the Postal Inspection Service and 18 actions by state attorneys general.
During a joint press conference today at the FTC, David C. Vladeck, Director of the FTC’s Bureau of Consumer Protection, was joined by Tony West, Assistant Attorney General for the Civil Division of the Department of Justice; Ohio Attorney General Richard Cordray; and a Grandview, Texas, job seeker who lost money to a company that made false promises of full-time work with benefits. The FTC also announced partnerships with the online job placement service Monster.com, the search engine Bing, by Microsoft, and the centralized network of online communities Craigslist, to help job seekers recognize job scams so they can avoid being victimized. Monster, Careerbuilder, Bing and Craigslist will display FTC consumer education material to people who are using the companies’ Web sites to look for jobs.
“Federal and state law enforcement officials will not tolerate those who take advantage of
consumers in times of economic misfortune,” Vladeck said. “If you falsely advertise that you will connect people with jobs or with opportunities for them to make money working from home, we will shut you down. We will give your assets to the people you scammed, and, when it’s appropriate, we’ll refer you to criminal authorities for prosecution.”
“Employment and business opportunity fraud causes terrible hardship to those who are suffering the most in these difficult economic times,” said Assistant U.S. Attorney General Tony West. “The Justice Department is committed to prosecuting those who defraud through false promises of employment or financial success.”
To help consumers avoid being conned by employment scams, the FTC has produced a new consumer education video in English and Spanish. Still shots from the Web sites of some of the operators charged in this law enforcement sweep, as well as video footage of FTC Consumer Protection Director Vladeck, and Monica Vaca, an Assistant Director in the FTC’s Division of Marketing Practices, will also be available. To view them, go ftc.gov/jobscams and youtube.com/ftcvideos. For access to higher resolution versions, visit aperturefilms.com/ftc or contact the FTC’s Office of Public Affairs. ftc.gov