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How To Spot Internet Scams

by Terry Dean

You may have thought that the business opportunity scams died out with the growth of the Internet, but you couldn't have been any more wrong. Scams are alive and well today online...and they may just be knocking on your door.

This week I spent some time doing research thinking that some of the old scams couldn't possibly still be working online...or could they? Part of my research uncovered that scams such as "envelope stuffing" and "work-at-home assembly" are still out there. All you have to do is go to any search engine and look up those words to find hundreds of sites representing them.

While you would think that scams just couldn't stand the higher education levels and the easy investigation of online businesses, this just isn't true. Not only are the old scams still around, but it seems that a whole new breed is being developed right now online.

During my short research into some of these online scams, I found out that these scams listed below were extremely plentiful in the online market:

Envelope Stuffing

This is an older scam where you pay $20–$100 to a company for their manual on how you can stuff envelopes at home for $1–$4 apiece. What you aren't told is the fact that you are required to advertise in the same way the original company did to get your leads. You have to pay for advertising and for your materials.

No company will pay you to sit at home and stuff envelopes for them considering the fact that for only a small investment they can purchase a machine which can do the job for them. They can automatically have it done for tenths of a cent. They don't need you.

Work-At-Home Assembly

These ads promise that you will be able to assemble products at home such as electronics, toys, signs, etc. They tell you that if you send them $20–$500 they will provide you with a starter kit and the materials you need to create these products.

What they don't tell you is that once you have assembled the products they will decline to accept them because they don't meet their high 'standards' of production. You will find out that you are almost never able to reach this undefined 'standard' they take so highly. You never get paid!

Pyramid Schemes

While network marketing is an established way of doing business, pyramid schemes are a completely different story. While network marketing and other types of direct selling focus on selling products to the end user, pyramid schemes focus on paying you for recruiting others into the program.

What is often presented as a network marketing company is just a pyramid in disguise. If a company promotes signing up new distributors more than selling actual products, then there is a good chance it is a pyramid.

The most well known types of pyramid scams are chain letters which have been passed around for years by mail. During the past few years they have made also made their way online. Chain letters are illegal in any format no matter what they tell you about who the lawyer is that wrote it or what misinterpreted legal code they claim to have found.

Bulk E-Mail Opportunities, 900 Numbers, And More

Other types of opportunities are being presented everyday promising little or no work and instant high incomes. I don't think that I make it through a single day without receiving some offer promising how easy it is to make money online through bulk e-mail. What they don't tell you is that your Internet account will be canceled quicker than you can imagine!

People are still selling 900 numbers as an easy way to get rich quick. They are presented on late night infomercials and all over the Internet. They promise "Just buy a number and place some ads and the money will flow in." What they don't tell you is that they were talking about 10 years ago when some 900 numbers were actually making money.

Scams are going to come and go..., both online and offline. The few I presented above don't even begin to scratch the surface of what you will find out there.

To help guide you through the dangerous waters online, I have prepared 5 things to look out for when looking for your own work-at-home business:

1) Scams often give a guarantee of quick money. First of all, it is illegal for any business to 'promise' you will earn a specific amount of money. Different people get different results. No one should be telling you that you will earn $1,000 tomorrow (unless you already have a well established website). It takes time to build an online business. Although some people do actually make a good profit in 30 days or less, this is not the norm. It took 6 months for me to build a full-time business online and that is a lot quicker than the average. Never think that you can have instant overnight success.

2) Scams will often promise NO work. If you want to make money, you are going to have some work to do. Nothing will come in your life for free. You either have to invest time or money in a project to receive a return. Yes, you can work smarter instead of harder, but there will still be some work to be done. For example, one of the goals of my business is to create automated systems which make money with as little of my involvement as possible. Once they are up, they make money with little time investment required. To create these systems in the first place is where I end up working the hardest. It takes time and effort to setup automated money machines. Don't think that money is just going to fall on you without you ever lifting a finger to earn it.

3) Scams often try to avoid telling you what they are really selling. They like to use a 'blind' approach. You are told how much money you can make and how little you will work, but they never specifically tell you how you are going to do it. They like to leave you in the blind so that you will buy their product out of curiosity. Every product that I have seen like this was a scam. This isn't to say that there might not be one honest company out there using this approach; it's just that this tactic is fundamentally unsound. Just the ones that I have investigated or have had others show me all turned out to be scams. They don't want to tell you what the product really is because they know you won't want it once you see it. Don't buy blindly.

4) Scams often offer No Guarantees. An honest company will always offer a guarantee on their products or services. A scam will avoid guarantees like the plaque. NOTE: The Postal Service and the FTC all place an assumed 30 day guarantee on any product bought online or through the mail, but that doesn't mean the company will honor it. Don't buy products without 30 day unconditional guarantees.

5) Scams often don't accept credit cards. Getting a merchant account is so easy in today's market that ANY business can start accepting credit cards this week. So, as a final warning to make sure you don't get ripped off by dishonest companies, only make purchases with credit cards. If a company doesn't accept VISA and Mastercard, you should ask yourself why. Anyone can. Purchasing by credit card gives you extra protection through your credit card company. So...never buy anything online from companies that don't accept credit cards. If you are currently a company online which doesn't accept credit cards, I recommend that you get a merchant account immediately. It will double or even triple your sales overnight in an Internet business for most products. Go to for a merchant application.

These 5 steps won't protect you from every potential scam out there, but they do give you a place to start. You can work at home and make a lot of money doing it, but you have to avoid the scams in the process which are just there to drain your pocketbooks. Any real Internet business takes time and effort, but it is more than worth it.

Terry Dean, a 7-year veteran of Internet Marketing, will take you by the hand and show you exact results of all the Internet Marketing techniques he tests and uses every single month!


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