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Envelope Stuffing Scams Target the Elderly

Aug 9, 2008
One of the classic online scams is one that particularly targets older people. Like Paid Surveys, this one has been around for years, even before the internet. It is particularly distasteful because it targets people who are not as sophisticated in the use of computers as younger people may be.

I fell for this scheme myself many years ago when I got out of college. At that time, these schemes were mostly advertised in print media. Often found in the classified ad sections in the back of glossy magazines or tabloids, they appeared to be a quick and easy way to make a reasonable extra income.

Now the scheme has moved onto the internet and it still gets thousands and thousands of people to respond. It seems an easier opportunity for people who are afraid to commit to an online business. The offer of $5 per envelope stuffed is not big, but most people think if you stuff enough, you can earn a decent extra income.

How does it work? No, you won't get hundreds of stamped envelopes from the company. No you don't get hundreds of names on nicely addressed and stamped envelopes. What you get for the "fee" you paid to join this opportunity is a flimsy brochure and a letter instructing you how to place a small classified ad in newspapers and magazines. More aggressive companies encourage you to place ads online. These ads are placed at your cost.

The ad you place offers a person information if they will send a self addressed stamped envelope to you with $5 in it. You get the response with the $5 and you put the flyer from the company into the envelope and mail it. See, you're getting paid $5 for stuffing envelopes.

The truth is, how many people are going to send you $5 for information they could easily get elsewhere for free. Would you send someone $5 and a self addressed stamped envelope just to get some information? I don't think so.

When the scam moved online, the process got just a bit different. After you pay your "fee" you receive a package (sometimes) in the mail. It's not very big when it arrives. You think it might be just the instructions. It is just the instructions, and that is all you are going to get. What you are told to do it to advertise the very envelope stuffing business that you paid to join.

In order to generate the kind of response you would need to get the income you were promised, you will have to advertise heavily and consistently. That means both print and online ads. The cost of advertising online can be enormous. Most ads placed online require a minimum daily commitment. But unless you set the daily rate very high, the chance that anyone will ever see your ad is remote.

Remember, you are competing against the very people who hooked you in the first place. They are spending thousands of dollars a month to get their ads placed in the most favorable positions so that other people just like you will click on their ad and never even see yours.

The most unfortunate part is that these schemes continue to operate and offer bigger and bigger rewards. Just today I went online and searched for "Envelope Stuffing Jobs." The top three sites I found were from three different "opportunities" promising slightly different income possibilities.

One promised that you could earn $12 an hour. Another promised $50 to $75 dollars an hour and one even promised $1,576 a week stuffing envelopes at $5. That's 315 envelopes. In several cases the fee to join was almost $50.

One particularly dangerous aspect of some of these scams is that some of them invite you to join a special section of their business. To do this you must provide additional information. You may have already paid your fee to join, but they promise that if you want to make the really big money, you should join their elite members program. They promise you will make money faster and have extra support. The catch? You have to provide them with your bank account information or even your social security number. After all, you are going to be "working" for them and that means they need this information to send your tax information at the end of the year.

This is nothing more than another clever way to steal your identity. Never give your personal information to anyone who offers you the opportunity to join in an online business venture.

The envelope stuffing scams have become so pervasive that the Federal Trade Commission and the Attorneys General of several states have joined forces to both warn consumers and prosecute the people they can catch. To date, cases have been brought in Arizona, Florida, Michigan, Texas, and Indiana.

The problem is that it is difficult to find these individuals. They work from a computer with no physical facility. When too many complaints are lodged, either with an Attorney General or the Better Business Bureau, they simply change their name and go online as a new and better opportunity.

Stay away from these opportunities. You will NOT earn any money. If you should become a victim, report it to the Better Business Bureau, or your state's Attorney General Consumer Protection Department and the FTC.
About the Author
Sheila Guilloton is the owner of Prestige Planners and specializes in online research to find the opportunities that are legitimate and warn consumers about the scams. For more information go to http://www.prestigewealthplanners.com
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