Richard A. Devine
Cook County State's Attorney
500 Richard J. Daley Center
Chicago, IL 60602
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE:
June 27, 2003
Devine Sues 'Work-At-Home' Company for Allegedly Scamming Consumers
Cook County State's Attorney Richard A. Devine announced today that he has filed a civil lawsuit against a Westchester man and two Willowbrook-based companies whose advertisements have pitched 'business opportunities' where respondents can supposedly make hundreds of dollars a week stuffing envelopes.
Classified ads run in local newspapers by two Willowbrook-based companies claimed respondents could make from $550 to $2,900 a week stuffing envelopes. Those who responded to the ads found out that to get the mailing materials, they would have to pay an initial fee based on how much money they wanted to make.
If a respondent wanted to make $550 a week, they had to send in a $55 fee in order to receive 55 letters, 55 envelopes and 55 customer-mailing labels while someone who wanted to make $2,900 a week would have to pay a "discounted" rate of $159. Devine's suit alleges that many consumers who paid the fees never received any envelope-stuffing materials.
Respondents who did receive materials from Financial Resources Unlimited, Inc., or Supreme Mailing Services, Inc., got a box of mailing labels, envelopes, brochures advertising other work-at-home opportunities and a list of instructions that contradicted the promises of the classified ads.
For example, the instruction sheet said payments would depend on how many of the mailings a consumer sent out actually led other consumers to sign up and begin paying for other work-at-home opportunities, such as home craft assembly or credit card processing. The instructions also revealed that fees for materials had to be paid on a weekly basis, and only about 30 percent of the consumer's postage costs would be reimbursed after consumers reached their sales goals.
"This amounts to nothing more than a pyramid scheme," Devine said. "If a consumer was ever to actually make money from one of these companies, it would only be because he or she kept up with their weekly payments and recruited more workers to form the next layer of the pyramid."
Devine's office filed suit after the Better Business Bureau of Chicago and Northern Illinois reported that they had received more than 187 complaints concerning Financial Resources Unlimited and Supreme Mailing Services.
The suit lists both companies and their president, Mark E. Shelton, 34, of 1018 Sean Circle, Darien, as defendants and seeks restitution for the victims of the alleged scheme, many of whom live out of state. The suit also seeks an injunction that would prohibit both companies and Shelton from operating home-based employment businesses in Illinois and $50,000 in civil penalties for each violation of the Consumer Fraud Act.
Shelton was also the president of Mark E. Shelton and Associates, a now defunct company that also offered work-at-home opportunities. The Better Business Bureau received 134 complaints about that company before it dissolved in May.
New Lenox, Illinois
U.S.A. Click here to read other Rip Off Reports on Financial Resources Unlimited Click here to read other Rip-off Reports on Home Based Businesses Click here to read other Rip Off Reports on Work at Home Scams