For two years, Eric Louie and brother Calvin pulled the virtual wool over scores of very real eyes.
The duo ran several Web sites that sold access to companies looking to farm out scut work–say “data entry,” typing three or four lines of text into an electronic form, over and over again, to fulfill some sort of advertising campaign.
The brothers convinced thousands of wannabe home-based entrepreneurs to pay between $47 and $129 to join these “members-only” sites (dataentrypro.com, fastcashathome.com, hometypers.com and others) in the hopes of bagging $300 to $1,000 a day for maybe 30 minutes of work.
The catch: Many who paid the up-front fee never got to do any typing at all. Often, either the work opportunities didn’t exist, or if they did, payment might have been an entry to a sweepstakes or even some free merchandise. No cash.
Between October 2005 and January 2007, this nasty little bait-and-switch, run out of Westminster, Calif., worked on some 55,000 suckers enticed by banner and pop-up ads.
Meanwhile, the brothers were living large: By the time the Federal Trade Commission brought a case against them for making false and unsubstantiated claims, Eric Louie was driving a 2004 Lamborghini Gallardo worth an estimated $166,000 and Calvin owned a 2005 Ferrari F430 ($199,000). Both owned houses in southern California.
Another new trend in home-business schemes. Scammers buy goods online with stolen credit cards, have them shipped to “re-shippers” who, for a fee, repackage the goods and send them to a P.O. Box, usually in another state or country. Guess who gets caught when the authorities try to trace activity on that stolen card?
This is one of the oldest schemes around, but for many scammers, it’s still a license to steal. Stuffers pay a nominal startup fee for the opportunity to pull in a preposterous $1 or $10 for every letter licked. When the envelopes never arrive, the unsuspecting realize they were the ones who got stuffed. (Another pernicious variation: chain-letter scams.)
Faux Data Entry
The scammer sets the trap by offering access to a host of companies looking to farm out basic scut work–say, typing a three or four lines of text into an electronic form, over and over again, to fulfill some sort of advertising campaign. The catch: Many of the suckers who pay the access fee (perhaps $100) never get to do any typing at all.
Photo by MSDesigns.