For Immediate Release
July 15, 2008
Lauren J. Noether, Bureau Chief
Consumer Protection and Antitrust Bureau
Attorney General Kelly Ayotte would like to remind consumers to be aware of work-at-home schemes that may be described as a business opportunity in the classified ads of your local newspaper or via the Internet. These offers vary but some of the more common offers advertise mystery shoppers, envelope stuffing, and medical billing opportunities. The ads are usually very appealing to consumers who are looking to "work from home" or "make extra money".
Attorney General Ayotte warns that while you may find these ads attractive, proceed with caution. Not all work-at-home opportunities deliver on their promises. Ayotte said the mystery shopper scam typically involves a money transfer using MoneyGram or Western Union. The mystery shopper receives a check from their "supervisor" and is instructed to deposit it into their bank account as part of their first assignment. Ayotte explained that consumers are usually instructed to keep the nature of their assignment confidential.
They are further instructed to then evaluate one of the money transfer businesses by going to a MoneyGram or Western Union location and wire a portion of the money, minus their pay, back to the supervisor, which is often an address in Canada. After completing the wire transfer, the consumer is instructed to evaluate the business and send the completed evaluation to their supervisor. Only after wiring the money does the consumer discover the check deposited into his or her account was fraudulent. The bank is required to give you access to the funds from a deposited check within days but it may take a bank longer, even weeks, to discover the check is counterfeit. Consumers deceived by these ads have lost thousands of dollars, in addition to their time and energy.
Attorney General Ayotte said: "New Hampshire consumers need to be wary of work-at-home programs. Legitimate mystery shopping companies will never ask consumers to use a money transfer to wire funds to them, for any purpose".
Ayotte noted that the scam artists use money transfers because funds sent via Western Union or Money Gram can be picked up anywhere in the world without the need to provide the money transfer control number (MTCN) or to answer to any secret question. Many scam artists will nonetheless set up MTCNs or passwords with their victims. Money sent via wire transfer leaves little opportunity for the victims to ever get that money back.
If New Hampshire consumers have any questions or wish additional information, they can visit the Bureau's Web site at www.doj.nh.gov or call the Consumer Protection Hotline at 1-888-468-4454 (toll free). Complaints can also be filed with the FTC by calling 877-382-4357 or via their Web site at: www.ftc.gov.
New Hampshire Department of Justice | 33 Capitol Street | Concord, NH | 03301