How can you tell if a business opportunity is legitimate or not?  It’s not easy as the schemes and scams are very sophisticated and seem legitimate.  More and more people are trying to start their own businesses so the scams and scammers are growing in numbers.

The excellent news is that yesterday (November 15th), the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) announced seven law enforcement actions and developments in five other cases against scammers offering “be your own boss” bogus business opportunities.  The credit for the investigations and actions belong to the FTC as well as with other federal and state law enforcement entities.  In its announcement, (www.ftc.gov; business.ftc.gov), the FTC said that the scammers used illegal tactics to bilk more than 1/2 billion dollars from 2 million Americans.

The actions taken were wide ranging, including 38 criminal cases filed by the Department of Justice; 15 “cease and desist” orders filed by the U.S. Postal Inspection Service; and another 20 actions filed by State Attorney Generals in Arizona, California, Colorado, Indiana and Ohio.

What were the scams?  I’ve written about many of these before.  In its’ news release, the FTC said they involved a range of “questionable business opportunities out there: mystery shopper services, credit card processing operations, websites claiming affiliations with high-end brands, promoters promising the inside track on Postal Service jobs, bizopps related to refunds for mortgage insurance premiums, and an operation claiming to match companies that have excess inventory with businesses looking to buy.”

The only “opportunities” these scammers want is the opportunity to take your personal and financial information and funds.  The FTC’s website has great resources about these, and other, scams.  So definitely look before leaping into any of these types of “be your own boss” or “work from home” offers.