Trade Commission, Citing Deception, Sues Seven Job Placement Operators
WASHINGTON — After eight months without work, Cathy Willburn spotted a classified ad last June offering a full-time job operating a forklift in a warehouse for $14 to $19 an hour, with benefits.
Ms. Willburn, 47, of Grandview, Tex., had done similar work, so she called the toll-free number and was told to send in her résumé, along with her checking account number to cover a one-time fee of $89. Later, she was told that the account’s funds were insufficient, so she sent a check for $89.
Ms. Willburn’s bank account was charged, and her check was cashed — but she never heard back, despite repeated calls to the company, Career Hotline Inc. She was out $178.
The Federal Trade Commission said on Wednesday that Ms. Willburn was among the victims of an expanding array of fraudulent job placement and work-at-home schemes.
The commission announced seven civil suits as part of a crackdown on such schemes, which officials said deceive job seekers by falsely promising work as federal employees, movie extras or assemblers of Christmas ornaments, among other positions.
David C. Vladeck, director of the commission’s Bureau of Consumer Protection, said the schemes “take advantage of consumers in times of economic misfortune.”
Since last spring, the commission has brought 11 cases against illicit job placement operators, including the seven announced on Wednesday.
In one of the largest schemes, officials said, Real Wealth Inc., of Lee’s Summit, Mo., sold booklets to more than 100,000 people — many of them elderly and disabled — telling them they could make money from home by mailing postcards and envelopes …