ON GUARD! The Oldest Scam

    May 1, 2003

You’ve seen the ads in newspapers, magazines – even on the Internet: “Get paid to stuff envelopes!” It seems the ultimate work- at-home opportunity. You figure it can’t be a scam because you see these ads all the time. Someone must know something you don’t; someone must be making money stuffing envelopes. Should you try it?

Like every too-good-to-be-true offer, envelope stuffing is a scam. No legitimate company would pay people to stuff envelopes when machines can do it far more cheaply, quickly and efficiently. Sure, there may be small-time enterprises that manually stuff envelopes, but they can’t afford to pay you to do it for them. Envelope stuffing is a scam, plain and simple.

Here’s how it works:

An ad guarantees you anywhere from $1 to $5 for every envelope you stuff. All you have to do is send your $19.95 (or $29.95 or $39.95 or whatever) for the details. Once you do you’ll receive a “start up package” with copies of the ad you just answered, along with details on how to place your own ads to get other people to send in for information. See where this is going? Exactly nowhere!

Envelope stuffing is just one of the many scams that have been floating around for years. It sounds legitimate, but the numbers just don’t add up. There are several tip-offs that this is a scam:

“Earn thousands every week!” (Over inflated promises of earnings are a red flag) “This deal won’t last long!” (High-pressure tactics are a sure sign a scammer is at work.) “Send in your money now!” (Asking for money up front is a classic indicator.)

Work-at-home schemes such as envelope stuffing have made the Federal Trade Commission’s Top 10 Scams list. Other false opportunities include processing medical billing claims and assembly or craft work. Here’s what the FTC says you should ask about potential work- at-home jobs before you send in your hard-earned cash:

What tasks will I have to perform? (Ask for a listing of every step of the job.) Will I be paid a salary or will my pay be based on commission? Who will pay me? When will I get my first paycheck? What is the total cost of the program, including supplies, equipment and membership fees? What will I get for my money?

Remember, if it sounds too good to be true, check it out first, because it probably IS too good to be true!

Laura Quarantiello is the author of “Cyber Crime How to Protect
Yourself From Computer Criminals” More information at