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The Arizona Republic warns that those who are without a job and who are behind on bills are particularly vulnerable to the scams that offer big money for little work. Sometimes they stumble into one scam, then another as they try to recover from the first.

Eric Grayson of Louisville, Ky., paid Phoenix-based Bankcard Empire $500 for an Internet business opportunity about a year ago, shortly after he had been laid off. Then he handed over $10,000 for marketing services to draw traffic to the website, which sold credit-card-processing services to merchants. He bought into Bankcard Empire’s promise of $5,000 a week for little work.

“This guy was one of the most professional-sounding people I have ever talked to,” he said of the telemarketer.

Like others, Grayson has seen no return on his money. When he disputed the $10,000 charge on his credit card, he said he was threatened by his Bankcard Empire “marketing coach” with a lawsuit.

Lynn Weed of Salmon, Idaho, said that he has racked up $110,000 in credit-card debt for online-marketing services from a number of Arizona businesses. He’s preparing to file for bankruptcy.

He said he spent $30,000 for a website and marketing services from Bankcard Empire, $40,000 for similar services from Webtech Strategies and Consolidated Business Opportunities, and another $40,000 to Freedom Online and America’s Webmall.

“I was desperate to make money to pay off the debts and fell into one scam after another,” said Weed, 68.

Photo by Alfred E. Newman.

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Originally posted by Rich Whittle on May 3, 2010 in Ideas.

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