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Beware of work-at-home scams

September 15, 2008 12:00:00 AM PDT
With a tight job market and a sour economy, more Southern Californians are struggling to get by these days.Many people are trying to earn extra money to help pay the bills and are being lured by online "work at home" offers. However, that is leading to a sharp rise in the number of complaints about job scams.

One of the ads for working at home features a woman by the name of Angel Stevens. Stevens is a smartly dressed woman who claims to have helped thousands of people make hundreds of dollars a day working from home.

By signing up on her "Process at Home" Web site, Angel says anyone can make easy money. She claims it's done by processing rebates for big companies like Home Depot, Blockbuster and Gap.

The Web site shows smiling faces of people who claim to be raking in cash. Angel says they are making so much cash many are fulfilling life wishes and buying things like a Lamborghini, a private jet, or a yacht.

"I'm angry, because I took the risk," said Theresa Calvert, a Long Beach resident.

Calvert claims she signed up to process rebates because she needed the money. Calvert has been out of work for about a year, but she paid Angel's company $197. After doing so, she realized something wasn't right.

"I says I've been in here 30 minutes and I want my money back ... That was February, I have no response," said Calvert.

Calvert is not alone. Eyewitness News found hundreds of complaints against Process at Home.

Eyewitness News found out that no matter the time of day, there were always just two positions left listed on the Web site.

Reaching the company was also no easy task, even though they appear to have ties in Southern California.

A building on MacArthur Boulevard in Irvine is supposedly the address of Process at Home, as well as its parent companies. However, when Eyewitness News talked to the management of the building, they said the company has never been a tenant.

Another bogus address for Process at Home is actually a mail service business in West Hollywood.

The company is now being investigated by the Irvine Police Department. Detective Joe Monroe of the Computer Crime Division said so far, the investigation has gone nowhere.

"At one point I was contacted with a call center in India trying to find out how people obtain a refund. And after about a 10-minute runaround, I was disconnected," said Detective Monroe.

Process at Home also lists an address in Nicosia, Cypress, which is off the southern coast of Turkey. Eyewitness News tried to contact the company in Turkey, and by its toll-free number, but received no response.

"It's a scam," said Bill Mitchell, Better Business Bureau of the Southland.

Mitchell said he has seen a growing number of scams involving bogus companies preying on people who are out of work. Mitchell warns consumers to be aware of companies demanding cash up front.

"If an employer tells you that you have to write a check or pay some money in order to get a job, there is no job. It's a scam," said Mitchell.

Law enforcement agencies and the Better Business Bureau warn consumers to be cautious of work-at-home offers.

 

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