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Chasing After Money in a Black Hole

Money often escapes the grasp of some who pursue it, but then there are those who have it within their grasp but are unable to spend it.

In this humorous video find out how one man's pursuit of money leaves him unable to go shopping! 🙃

Work at Home Scams to Avoid

An Example of Money Laundering Hiding Behind a Work from Home Mask!

Warning signs that may reveal work from home scams:

They request money to send information about the position.
⚑ They request money for a training manual.
⚑ The pay is from a percentage of 'processed funds'.
⚑ Pay is too high compared to a legitimate work from home offer.

From the flagged list above, several of those are actually traits of money laundering techniques! Much can be learned by studying examples of money laundering!

The recipient of an actual work from home scam received an offer after posting her resume to a well-known, legitimate career job search site. In my opinion, it's a good reason to not post a resume online!
Work from Home
Masks Money Laundering

One way you can research a scam vs a legit opportunity, would be to look on the site for the bbb work from home jobs reports. That is, the Better Business Bureau.

You can always go to their site to determine if there are complaints filed regarding a specific company, or not. Keep in mind they may not have any information regarding a scam business!

Money laundering can easily hide behind the mask of purporting to be a work from home opportunity!

However, money laundering is not often recognized for what it really is!

This is the actual money laundering scheme posing as a work from home opportunity, which the woman received after posting her resume online:
We found your resume on (name of job search web site was removed).
We would like to suggest you a position at our company - the Transfer Manager.
The task of the Transfer Manager is to process payments between our clients and our company via bank accounts, checks, PayPal.
The job is related to remote Internet operations.
Every payment order will be accompanied with detailed instructions.
It's a commission based position. You will get about 8% of each processed payment.
General requirements:
  • Ability to create good administrative reporting.
  • Work from home, take responsibility, achieve goals.
  • Prior customer service experience is a good benefit, but not a must.
  • Honesty, responsibility and promptness in operations.
  • Effective interaction with customers.
  • Familiarity to working online, internet and email skills. 
  • 3-5 hours per week
Salary: $600-$1200 per week
This job will allow you to:
  • Work efficiently from home
  • Increase available personal time
  • Achieve financial independence in half the time
  • Develop high self-respect and esteem
  • Become able to share time and money with others less fortunate than you
Again, the above example was an actual offer a woman received in an email, after she posted her resume online, and worst of all it was money laundering!

Be cautious as you seek legitimate work from home opportunities!

For more information about money laundering, consider reading our related article:

The related money laundering article will provide this information:

What are the three steps of money laundering?

Another example of money laundering!

Be sure to read the related article, which is right here on Money Illusions:

What is money laundering?

Money Smart Educational Solution

Money Smart educational solution is a great resource, plus it's free!

This personal finance educational resource may provide a greater defense to build a healthier financial future. And, it can serve well to educate your young adult children about money matters. But wait, it isn't just for kids!

Have you stopped by the FDIC's site to learn all you can about money from their computer-based training? It's a great resource for personal education, and again it's free!
Free Financial Education

Their program can increase a person's knowledge about banking, acquiring a home mortgage etc. They are free to use and can be accessed from the Internet at any time.

The description of their program as stated from the FDIC:
Money Smart Computer-Based Instruction provides financial education for Adults and Young Adults. The training covers topics such as the basics of borrowing money wisely, using a spending plan to achieve financial goals, and how to use banking products effectively.
Stop on over and run through their Money Smart program.

Phishing Trip Cancelled!

Did you receive a spoof email for a work from home scam?

Unfortunately, most do! It's important to recognize the traits of a spoof!

One day after receiving one myself, I snooped around their website, and after reading all the details of the work from home job description, I determined it was not that at all. No surprise! 

What was their phishing email advertising?

A work from home opportunity scam, which was actually a front for a money laundering operation!

When I had more time the following morning, I decided to look again at their website. 👀

My plan was to gather more information and report it, but the site had already been taken down! Someone else must have reported their site.

The money con artists phishing trip had been cancelled! 😎

Phishing Money Laundering Scam

An actual example of a money con artists money laundering scheme - posing as a work from home opportunity!

After receiving a spoof phishing email, I knew I wanted to warn others!

Upon investigation I discovered the following:
  • The spoof phishing email was using a legitimate well-known, career website name, but the links in the email belonged to a different site.
  • The email didn't reveal enough details, so it could have easily fooled many!
  • Their work from home opportunity scam, was nothing more than a front. The money con artists actual goal was to recruit unaware worker-bees as the resource to launder money!
  • One would have to dig deeper to reveal it was really a mask for money laundering.
How can one determine it was money laundering? For starters: The false front they were hiding behind had many red flags!⚑⚑⚑
  1. Let's take a look at their actual work from home recruiting email.
  2. Then break it down to understand why it was money laundering.
As mentioned above, the spoof phishing email was posing as a well known internet career site, complete with their logo!

Money Laundering Con Artist Work from Home Scam
It's important to understand that the email was a spoof - posing as the legit career site, but was not!

I reported the spoof email to the legit career site whose logo and trademark had fraudulently been used.

This is the actual money laundering con artist's email I received, but with their *business name changed - to stress my point: 🙃

"*The Money Laundering Group Inc., is a leading venture capital firm. With over 550 million in committed capital under management, the firm's partners have invested in 150 companies that are leaders in their industry categories.
We are seeking self-motivated, goal-oriented individuals that wish to earn as much as their spare time permits. No experience necessary. We offer financial aid to help you create and manage your own business and will provide motivating opportunities.
General qualifications including owning and ability to use an Internet-ready PC; ability to work in a high-energy speedy team environment, and the dedication to create your own success in a fast-paced challenging career.
Basic banking knowledge is a plus, though not required.
In return for your commitment you'll receive unlimited commission, excellent benefits and growth potential.
For consideration please email resume to: (email address omitted)
Or view our website at:" (website url omitted)
Investigating the spoof phishing email:

⚑ The email purported to be from a legitimate job seeker site, which I had never provided my email address to. Nor had I ever submitted my resume to the legitimate career job search site. That was one of the first clues!

Out of curiosity, I decided to take a look at the website. I'm referring to the actual site the email would have clicked through to - NOT the legitimate career website, which they used the logo from for trickery.

Please note, when you receive spoof or phishing emails, that you NEVER want to click on any links provided in their email, as clicking through those links can also possibly lead to a malicious file. 

Therefore, I typed the website URL into my web browser, but without the full url link their spoof email provided - only their home page url. Which by the way, was risky as it was due to potential malicious files on their site.

Proceeding with caution, I looked closely at their site:

I promptly sought and found the so called "work from home job opportunity". Once I found it, reading the full details revealed it was actually a money laundering scam!

⚑ Note: The email recruiting description was not as blatant as the full details were on their website. That way it provided the opportunity to raise less suspicion, in hopes to get more people to click through.


On the con artists website, this was the actual money laundering scheme - their detailed 'work from home job description':
"You will have the opportunity to increase your income substantially, working as an independent contractor. We will help you create and develop your own business, and you will receive a 9.5% commission from every processed payment.
To begin, you will be assigned to one of our agents that will guide you throughout the entire process. The agent will help you set up your own company to be able to deal with us, and our clients.
You will receive both technical and financial aid required in order to open a business. Next, opening a business bank account is the first step to begin your activity. There will be an initial small deposit fee required by the bank, which will be made available to you by us before preparing the application.
Once you have properly accomplished these steps, all you have to do is to receive the payments from our clients, and to redirect them to us, using your new business bank account, following the instructions given by our assigned agent.
For each transaction you will earn 9.5% from each processing! For example: you may receive a $5,000 wire transfer to your bank account. You withdraw the money and keep $475.00 (9.5% of $5,000) for yourself. As you see, the operations are very easy to understand and complete, and we are here to guide you."
In summary let's consider these BASIC ⚑ RED FLAG points, which wouldn't necessarily make one suspicious of money laundering!
  •  'No experience required'.
  • They claimed they would help you create 'your' business. 
  •  'Financial aid' to be an 'independent contractor' was used as a lure.
  • Claiming the need for an 'initial small deposit fee'. 💰
  • Claiming the fee would be 'required by the bank' - NOT!!!

Going beyond those basics revealing it was a bogus work from home opportunity, let's break down their recruiting ad details to identify the elements of money laundering.

Before reading further, first ask yourself:
Were clues from their ad details obvious to you that it was money laundering, or not so obvious?

If it wasn't obvious: No need to beat yourself up!

Understand you're like many others in our society, as money laundering isn't a topic generally talked about regarding work from home opportunities! And, when one is needing employment, scams can cloud our best judgment - so no fault of yours if you didn't recognize the elements of why it's money laundering.

Now we're getting to the meat and potatoes of it all!

How to Recognize this Was a Money Laundering Scam...

These are the major red flags - (going beyond the basic red flags we already covered):
  • Commission from every processed payment.
  • Receive payments 'from their clients'.
  • Instructed to 'redirect the payments' to them.
  • Using your bank account!
  • For each 'transaction' they would pay a % for each 'processing'.
  • Form of payment: A wire transfer to the recruits bank account.
  • Recruit withdraws the money and keeps their % for processing.
An important point of clarification not spelled out clearly by their description, which I'll refer to as - reading between the lines:

They did not reveal 'how' the recruit is supposed to 'redirect the payments' (from which the recruit has 'kept their % for processing).

They stated the person would 'withdraw the money, keep their %', but then what? How would the recruit have been instructed to return the remainder of the money to them?

My guess would be from money orders or other form of difficult to track payment methods. The money con artists need to stay under the radar!

All the while - the recruit is the one that is sticking their neck out for law enforcement to come knock on their door! Be aware that ignorance to participating in money laundering would not protect one from the huge legal problems, fines, and possible imprisonment by being involved!

Money laundering is a major crime, not taken lightly by the law!

The major indicator, which stands by itself as the BIGGEST CLUE:
  • 🏴🏴🏴"All you have to do is to receive the payments from our clients, and to redirect them to us, using your new business bank account..."
To dissect it all, these are three basic traits of money laundering:
  • Placement: The stage for criminally obtained funds to be deposited into the financial systems.
  • Layering: Ownership and process are washed to disguise the source.
  • Integration: Monies successfully deposited into the economy.
The comparison:
Reviewing the major red flags, here's the break-down for each of those traits, and how it pertained to their work from home scheme:

This is the process by which the criminal can begin to place illegally gained monies into the financial system.
  • As the recruiting ad stated, the receiving of the monies from their clients, were then to be directed to the recruit - for them to deposit within their bank account.
It's like an onion! The recruit becomes the outer layer - the most vulnerable for exposure, as they were the shield of the original ownership of the illegally obtained monies! The money laundering accomplice!
  • The recruit 'redirecting' the monies back to the con artists after they were 'washed' through their own bank account. The layer in which the criminal hid behind. The actual source became disguised by the unaware recruit as they were the ones to deposit funds into their own accounts! And finally, the recruit also 'redirected' the remaining monies back to the con artist!
Monies now successfully placed into the legitimate economy.
  • The recruit used their own bank account to complete integration.
In closing:
Chances are you ended up on Money Illusions as you may be seeking work from home opportunities, and you may have become concerned about a scam.

My suggestion to you from here, is to do some extra research on your own to understand how to recognize the money laundering schemes.

Become more familiar with at least the three steps of money laundering.

Why would you want to dive further into understanding at least the basics of money laundering?

With the advancements in technology, the age in which we live has resulted in money laundering becoming very prolific, and through vast channels such as fake jobs.

It's a challenge to sometimes recognize a scam on the surface as being a complicated illegal process such as money laundering.

And, finally - those who seek work at home opportunities can easily fall prey to becoming not only a victim of a crime, but also an accomplice!

To protect yourself, learn to recognize the basic characteristics of the money con artists laundering scheme - hiding behind the so-called work from home opportunities!

Identity Theft Traced by Her Tracks

Breaking news!

First the bad news...

Identity theft isn't going to disappear any time soon! So safeguard your identity every day!

No need to say the ultimate goal is to catch the money con artists before they do more damage.

Now the good news...

Identity theft inspector
A shopping spree led law enforcement directly to this thief!

How did they catch her? They tracked down her designer shoes, - why of course - lol.

It's a dumb criminal story, so you'll want to be sure to read how law enforcement traced the identity theft tracks, which led to the thief!

Related reading: Identity Theft articles.

13 Work From Home Actual Scam Ads

Scam ads pointing to hacked sites!

(Actually, there were many more than 13!)

In this article about work from home scams to avoid, I first would like to share with you how I came across these ads. Why would I want to share  how I found these? Because - it's important to realize that money con artists are hacking legit sites to advertise work from home opportunities scams!

Just because we may find an ad on a legit site, doesn't mean those ads are legit, as they may not have been placed by the site owner!

Phew, say what? As if it's not difficult enough as it is, for good people to find legit work from home opportunities!

Recently, by conducting a simple online search I came across a legit business site which had been hacked by work at home money con artists!
It was by accident that I found these scam ads placed into plain html pages on a completely unrelated legit site. The industry of the legit business site is so unrelated to the so-called 'opportunities', that was why I had to check it out - as it was too obvious the ads had to be a scam!

Now don't miss out on this important information! Select 'Continue Reading' to take you to page 2!

Social Security Imposter Scam Calls

Did you receive a robocall claiming to Represent Social Security?

The Social Security Scam is on the rise! I decided to write about this today since I myself received one of the robocalls.

What was the robocall message? This is the robocall I received:

Free Credit Score Reports FCRA

Free credit score reports are available once every 12 months from the credit bureaus.

Those are available due to the "Fair Credit Reporting Act". In the past, consumers paid to have access to their credit reports, but thankfully the FCRA changed that!

For the USA, the three credit bureau agencies are: Equifax, Experian, and TransUnion, but you don't contact those agencies directly to get your reports.

There is one website to request your free reports from, which is listed on the FTC's website, and I'll provide that link at the end of this article.

Where to Find Amazon Work from Home Jobs

Rumor has it that Amazon is hiring work from home job opportunities!

Given the fact that their entire business runs on massive technology, I would imagine that's probably the case, more often than not. Remote, telecommuting, work from home tech jobs, are often a job sector offered from many large corporations. That's all good, so what's the problem?

The problem is WHERE some job seekers are looking to find work from home remote opportunities with Amazon!

200 Best Work from Home Jobs for 2019

Wow! 200 work from home jobs for 2019!

Yes, the possibilities are out there!

What are they, and how can you find them?

If I were to attempt to cover a list that long I would be researching and gathering all of that data to the end of 2019! Then it would be too late to post that article! That wouldn't help you!

The best I can do this year is to point you in the right direction to the screaming content already out there!

As always, do your homework with due-diligence in order to determine the best opportunity for you!

#1. 100 Top Companies with Remote Jobs in 2019:
If there are at least 100 top companies offering remote jobs, then that means there are 100+ job opportunities from that resource alone! Be sure to check out FlexJobs for those opportunities. As they have in the past, they provide a terrific source for work from home remote telecommuting jobs!

#2. 75 Legitimate Work from Home Jobs for 2019!
Probably the most comprehensive list as far as details and types of positions. From Admin Jobs, Writing Content Opportunities, Educational Teaching Positions, Graphic Design, Audio Video Opportunities, and many more - the list goes on! You must check out "I've Tried That" with their long detailed list!

That's 175 opportunities, so where is the other 25 to total 200 of the best work from home jobs for 2019? I'll do better than that! Because, here's another resource offering 50:

Kids Earn Cash Money - Is it a Scam?

Some refer to it as, 'Kids Earn Cash' or as, 'Kids Earn Money'. What I found is this site: 'Kids Earn Cash'. The online search results brought up their site snippet which states:
"Kids Earn Cash lets you turn your social media profiles into money. Start earning thousands a month by promoting on social media."

What is "Kids Earn Cash"or"Kids Earn Money"? Is it a scam?

Work From Home Training Program Scam vs Legitimate Offer

Looking for work from home jobs with a training program?

Before you accept an offer, determine if it's a scam, or legitimate!

Let's compare the traits of both:

Work From Home Jobs with a Legitimate Training Program:

  • Experience and/or special skills will most likely be required.
  • A specific level of education/degree will be required.
  • The offer clearly specifies the job requirements and expectations.
  • An interview is required.
  • No payment is required for their training program or manual.
  • They will pay for your time during training.

Work From Home Training Program Scams:

  • No experience or special skills required.
  • No interview is required.
  • The entire process is too easy and offered to anyone.
  • Payment is required for the work from home program or manual.
  • You may, or may not receive an actual training manual.
If you do receive a training manual or so-called program from a scam offer, what is the manual that you might receive?

There are different versions of the scam. If you do actually receive a training manual in return for payment, it may be that they figure it will reduce their chance of being reported.

The manual or training information may be nothing more than instructions for how you can advertise and sell the same work from home manual or program, which is selling - nothing of value!

As you search for a legitimate work from home aka, 'remote' or  'telecommuting' position, play it safe!

Never send money for training materials to someone claiming to be a prospective employer.

A legitimate employer will not require you to pay for training materials or manual.

The work from home training program scam is one you can easily avoid!

One final point:

There are legitimate e-books offering tips with how to search and find legitimate work from home opportunities. This article isn't about legitimate guides.

Those e-books may be offered free, or they may be an e-book requiring purchase.

Take the time to learn the differences with offers so you can move forward into a positive direction.

Head on over to the FTC to learn more about work from home training program scams.

10 Ways to Spend $1 Million Dollars on a Private Island

"What would you do on a private island with $1 million dollars to spend?"

I'm laughing over that hypothetical question posted in a forum. For fun, it's deserving of answers so please post your comments. What would you do? 😎

But first the mysterious unknown variables, of which I'm going to consider two:
  • Is the island totally private as in a deserted island, and you're the poor rich soul that became stranded?
  • Is it a private island that you bought, and now you can spend $1 million to improve it?
I'm going to assume it's deserted! Therefore, the question, 'What would you do on a private island with $1 million dollars to spend?' becomes far more problematic to answer - for obvious reasons.  

10 Ways to Spend $1 Million Dollars on a Private Deserted Island:

1. Bury it in the sand and forget where you put it. Poof - it's all spent.

2. Use tree sap to glue each of the bills together to make a paper banner. Wait for it... there's a plane! Quick! Now wave the banner with hope they will land to take the bait in return for your rescue! 😓

3. Use the bills like wallpaper inside your newly constructed grass hut.

4. Save them for a rainy day - to patch the hut roof so you'll stay dry.

5. Use them for bargaining a deal with the pirates when they stop by.

6. Build bonfires with the bills - IF you can get a spark!

7. Pay and bribe the Monkey's to pick Coconuts so you won't starve. 🙊

8. Weave them together to make paper baskets for food gathering. 

9. Heap them high inside the hut so you can 'sleep on it' as in - figuring out how to get off the island!

10. Finally, they might become toilet paper bills! Ugh!

Say what? Another variable?

I just figured out the $1 million dollars may not be paper bills, but instead a bad check!

Money Tree

Are you the proud owner of a money tree? Wouldn't we all like to be! While growing up I remember the money tree my grandmother had. Fascinated by the fact that she had some sort of money tree, with excitement, I had to go see! I have no idea what I really expected, but it wasn't anything like I thought it would be! The reality ended in disappointment - lol. 😕

The money tree looked like this:

Say what? That's a money tree? How could that possibly be? It looked more like silver dollar coins, but I had thought it would look more like... dollar bills???

That was my first experience with the realization that, 'Money doesn't grow on trees!' 🙃

The money tree I envisioned probably would have looked more like this:
But, again, money doesn't grow on trees!
I had to get over it and grow up - like a tree!

A note in closing: The Money Tree is different from the Chinese Money Plant.

Spam Email Asking for Money - One Solution

1 Easy Way to Stop Emails Asking for Money!

Which comes first? They take your money? Or, they send you phishing spam?

Hmm, perhaps the answer depends on what we fell for! Let's go with the second choice and assume you received phishing email asking for money. In a perfect digital world there wouldn't be spam email, but we won't see that happening anytime soon. For now, our best strategy is to reduce the amount of spam we might receive, which also eliminates some of the chances of losing money to their tricks in our email.

How can we reduce fraudulent email offers asking us for money?

You've most likely heard many of the typical answers, one of which may be, "Be careful with what you sign up for!" In the digital world it's known as 'subscribe' to. For legitimate sites and offers it's all good. We fill out forms and select a button and boom, it's done - we've given out our sacred email address. But what about other things you have subscribed to?

But... Did you check if you were signed up to receive emails that you didn't subscribe to?

Now that's a tricky question! If you didn't subscribe for something how would you know, or what would you research to find out? I know what you're probably thinking by now, "There's a whole lot of questions, but what about the answers!" Well, it's complicated, and I wanted to keep this short so I will give you one EASY TO DO SOLUTION to potentially reduce spam emails asking for money. And, this will also make your browsing safer!

One solution to reduce or eliminate spam email in your box:

Since using this one solution myself, I've had some days with zero spam emails! From my opinion - that's amazing results from exercising this one solution! So read on if you want to eliminate your spam...

This one solution pertains to anyone who has a Google account, so it's an easy solution for many people! And the answer is.... wait for it - lol. If you have a Google account you have access to Google Groups, which offers forums for those who wish to use that service. However, the default settings may leave you vulnerable to be signed up for groups you do not wish to be subscribed to! And, some groups are set up by spammers for the sole purpose to send you emails, and/or potentially hijack your browsing!

Here's the fix: Check your Google Groups settings to determine your group subscriptions! You may be surprised what you have been subscribed to, without your knowledge - if you never changed the default settings! Reduce your potential for spam with these easy steps - images included for an easy tutorial!
  1. Go to 'Google Groups'. The page looks like this at the top left:
  2. Select 'My groups' to see what you are subscribed to.
  3. Are you subscribed to a group you didn't sign up for?
  4. Unsubscribe to groups you didn't subscribe to!
  5. Proceed to step 6 to make sure it doesn't happen again!
How to change your Google Group 'Settings for all groups':
  1. Look at the top right side for the icon - as shown in the image below.
  2. Select 'My global settings' from the menu.

"My global settings" opens a page of options, shown in the next image. Uncheck the default settings boxes where it says, "Add/Invite settings". Then select 'Save' at the top of the page.

Again, be sure you opt out of (uncheck) the two boxes that 'allow group managers' to directly add and invite you to their groups! That's how you may have been subscribed to a group you don't want to be in, which can = spam in your email box!

Unfortunately, the Google default setting automatically allowed group managers (spammers) to subscribe you! The default setting can result in spam email and potentially browser hijacks.

If at any time, you know of a legitimate group manager who wishes to add you, you can always go back and manually make the change to allow the addition or invitation to come through. Thereafter you would then want to go back and uncheck the boxes again.

You may also wish to go back to the menu and select, "All topic email subscriptions", and make sure you're not subscribed for emails you do not wish to receive! And, if you have a Yahoo email, you may wish to check the default settings for Yahoo Groups.

You just learned one way you may have been subscribed to something you don't want to be involved with, which may have resulted in spam emails, and some of which were asking for money! If this was of help to you, let me know with your comment and share this with a friend. If you still need more insight, check out more ways to reduce the spam emails from the MoneyCrashers!

Fake Check Scam - Fake Check in the Mail

1 Easy Tip to Avoid Receiving a Bad Check

The era of the fake check scam is not past and gone, as it still claims victims. My own recent experience prompted me to share my story of the promise of a (fake) check in the mail.

Knowing what they were up to I by all means was not going to take them up on the offer, but instead was excited to share the news with you - lol - as it gave me a new article topic for Money Illusions.

Fake check in the mail scam works like this...

With the need to downsize some items I listed an item for sale on a popular site for selling stuff. The next day I received a text message from a potential buyer.

Their question was fairly normal communication that one would anticipate from a prospect to a seller; "Do you still have the item available?" Assuming it may be a legit customer I responded with a simple, "Yes, I still have it available." I didn't hear back from them until the next day when they responded with another text, "Okay! I don't have any issue with the price you are asking! Just send me your address so I can mail the check to have you hold the item for me!"

It was obvious that it was a scam, and especially since I wasn't offering shipping but local pick-up only, this was a major red flag!

Why would a scammer mail a (fake) check?

The fake check scammer might not even care if you were to actually send the merchandise to them - or not. Remember from my experience that the person quickly stated they 'don't have an issue with the price.' - because it isn't the merchandise they were interested in, so they had no need to negotiate the asking price!

What they're hoping for is that their victim will cash the fake check and send a check back to them. Why would a seller send a check to them? Because the check would be written for more than the actual asking price of the merchandise!

A seller would possibly think it was in error and send the overage back to the buyer. Or, the buyer might include instructions that may go like this: "I only had this money order, which is $200.00 more than what you were asking, so kindly return the extra to me." Unfortunately for the seller the fake check won't clear the bank, and they will be out any money they sent the buyer scammer.

When you list items for sale online - be aware of the 'fake check in the mail scam'. Use your common sense, and don't get excited about a buyer wanting to send you a (fake) check in the mail! It's funny money until you take it to the bank, then it's no laughing matter.

Bait and Switch Pricing Scam

Businesses rely on a steady flow of prospects, customers, and a profit. Unfortunately, some businesses utilize illegal strategies as an attempt to boost their profits. One illegal method some retail establishments use is known as 'bait and switch', which is regulated by the FTC - aka the Federal Trade Commission.

Some consumers may not be aware that bait and switch isn't limited to purchasing a product from a retail establishment, but it can also occur at a restaurant. Have you been a victim of bait and switch? The following example may help you to determine if you have.

Imagine a restaurant advertises on their menu that the individual one-serving meal is 'served with rice and salad'. However, when you pick up your meal the order doesn't match what their menu states is included! Two combo meals were ordered to go, both of which were to be 'served with rice and salad'. The individual one-serving salad is in a separate container from the hot food, but when two combination meals were ordered only one individual serving of salad was received.

You know how it is when you're in a hurry with to-go food; you may not be paying attention to what was put inside the to-go bag. But then upon returning home it's discovered you were only provided one salad, and it's obviously only one-serving.

The first time this occurred you may have thought the restaurant simply overlooked including two salads, but then imagine it happened a second time when returning many months later. However, when the cashier is questioned as to where the other salad is they replied that you only get one salad with the two meals! Say what?

Imagine you ordered two meals and their menu states (advertises), each meal is 'served with rice and salad', their pricing is for each individual meal and therefore it is bait and switch to only serve you one salad for two meals purchased! The exception would be if you requested to not have the second salad, which they should consider a price reduction for providing you less food, or perhaps offer an equivalent substitution.

How do you determine if it's bait and switch? Let's take a look at how the FTC determines if an ad is deceptive, and then we'll compare it to the advertised menu items in this example. The FTC states many guidelines to determine if an advertisement is deceptive, but this is the key point that is applicable to this situation:
The FTC looks at the ad from the point of view of the "reasonable consumer" - the typical person looking at the ad. Rather than focusing on certain words, the FTC looks at the ad in context - words, phrases, and pictures - to determine what it conveys to consumers.
It's fairly cut and dry to determine that the restaurant menu advertised each meal is 'served with rice and salad', but if you only received one salad for two meals, and they deliberately cheated the consumer out of the second salad that would be an example of bait and switch!

As per the FTC's description of deceptive advertising, if what is conveyed to the consumer is contradictory to what they actually receive for the price advertised, it's bait and switch! The next time you order a meal, or purchase an item advertised, pay attention to what you receive in exchange for what you paid. If you're in doubt and the establishment refused to provide a good explanation, review the FTC deceptive advertising guidelines to determine if you were a victim of the old bait and switch scam.