Agencies Allege Fraud in Business Opportunity Sweep

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Federal law enforcement agencies filed more than 200 civil and criminal actions in a sweep of business-opportunity scams that victimized tens of thousands of consumers and caused more than $100 million in losses, the Federal Trade Commission said yesterday.

The scams involved print, broadcast and electronic media, including e-mail and telemarketing, the FTC said. Dubbed "Project Biz Opp Flop," the sweep included participation by the Postal Inspection Service and the Department of Justice in addition to the FTC.

Numerous sales and rental business opportunities were offered, the FTC said. Among them were a DVD movie rental vending machine, kitty-cat refrigerator magnets, fashion jewelry and cigar humidors, as well as the more common medical-billing and envelope-stuffing work-at-home opportunities, according to the FTC.

The sweep resulted in the filing of criminal charges against 14 individuals. The FTC also filed civil charges against 31 corporations and 33 individuals and referred four other cases to the Justice Department. Also, 14 state agencies announced civil actions.

Scott Hovanyetz covers telemarketing, production and printing and direct response TV marketing for DM News and To keep up with the latest developments in these areas, subscribe to our daily and weekly e-mail newsletters by visiting

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