PhotoIf you're looking for a job, bear in mind that there are plenty of people out there who already have a job. Unfortunately, their job is separating you from your money.

The best way to protect yourself from being caught in an employment scam is to remember: no legitimate employer will ever ask for money from an employee or job applicant – not to pay for uniforms, not to buy software or equipment, and certainly not as a “processing fee” or anything else.

This week, we heard from Bob, a retiree in Arlington, Virginia. Bob said he is looking for a work-at-home job and thought he'd found a possibility in a company called Java Enterprises Inc.:

It seems legit, and it has a website, and a email address and a phone number. …

They claim they will pay $10.00 a letter (seems way to high-red alert to me?)  for everyone you stuff according to their explicit instructions. Seems like a classic "too good to be true scam to me".

Of course one has to pay a upfront fee of from $99.00-$399. depending how many letter you want to stuff at $10 a letter.

Pyramid scheme?

Sounds like a classic “envelope-stuffing scheme,” a form of work-at-home scam predating the Internet. The Federal Trade Commission has an entire webpage dedicated to warning people away from envelope-stuffing scams, a form of pyramid scheme:

Promoters usually advertise that for a “small” fee, they’ll tell you how to earn big money stuffing envelopes at home. They may say you will earn money for each envelope stuffed, making it possible for you to earn hundreds — or even thousands — of dollars each week. … once you send your money, you’re likely to get a letter telling you to get other people, even your friends and relatives, to buy the same envelope-stuffing “opportunity” or another product. The only way you can earn money is if people respond to your solicitations the same way you responded. 

Is that what Java Enterprises, Inc. is about? The website's “Contact Us” page does indeed have a toll-free phone number, but when we called it, we heard a recording thanking us for calling Java Enterprises, the “industry leader in work-at-home opportunities,” but also saying that, due to a “tremendous influx of calls recently,” the company would only offer “telephone customer support” to “established, paid customers” (translation: You can't talk to a person on the phone unless you pay them money first).

So we instead sent a message to their Gmail address, asking for details about these work-at-home opportunities, but as of press time have not heard a response.

The website is filled with vaguely upbeat, motivational language that doesn't actually tell you anything useful: “Success doesn't come to you. You go to it.”

And what products or services does this “industry leader in work-at-home opportunities” have to offer? Packages of “mailers.” The least-costly item for sale, “Mailer Program Group 1,” costs $99, in exchange for which you get “49 letters, 49 envelopes, 49 mailing labels.” Other “Mailer Program Groups” for sale cost up to several hundred dollars.

And how is paying ridiculously inflated prices for basic mailing supplies supposed to equal a work-at-home opportunity? The website doesn't say – because there's no answer to that question. 

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