The U.S. is stepping up efforts to combat scams targeting the unemployed by promising jobs and the opportunity to "be your own boss," the
Federal and state officials have brought actions — such as filing criminal charges or reaching settlements — in dozens of cases over the past year as part of a continuing enforcement effort, said Peter Kaplan, an FTC spokesman.
Cases cited by the agency included companies that charged people to help them develop Internet businesses and advertised nonexistent sales jobs for which they collected fees for background checks and other services.
Victims "risked their limited financial resources in response to the promise of a job, an income — a chance at a profitable home-based business," said David C. Vladeck, director of the FTC's
, in the statement. "These turned out to be empty promises, and the people who counted on them ended up with high levels of frustration and even higher levels of debt."
Last year, the Better Business Bureau of Southeast
and the Caribbean reported complaints and inquiries about such operations were up over the previous year.