MONROE (WXYZ) - It sounds tempting – work from home, and earn hundreds of thousands of dollars.
One local grandmother found out the hard way about a scheme to earn money that ended up costing her big time.
Ilene Dussia says they did the hard sell – spend more than $25,000 on the chance to have a home business selling credit card machines… and she’d be rolling in the dough.
But Ilene quickly found out it was too good to be true – and Action News Investigator Heather Catalo learned, she’s not alone.
Ilene Dussia is raising two teenage grandsons… on a fixed income.
So when the phone rang one day with an unbelievable opportunity to make tens of thousands of dollars working from home – Ilene thought she could finally earn enough money to send her grandchildren to college.
“There were very persistent,” says Ilene Dussia.
The caller promised she could make huge returns from marketing credit card readers.
“They indicated to me that they had made, I don’t know, like ¾ of a million dollars themselves,” says Dussia.
All she had to do once her phone started ringing from eager business owners looking for the machines… was refer them back to the company Bankcard Empire.
“I would receive $500, and I would also receive income from whatever was charged on the charge card on that card reader,” says Dussia.
So Ilene got out her own credit cards – charging $10,500 on her Chase card, and $15,000 on her Discover card.
But she never got any of the email marketing blasts that were promised… she never got any business… She says all she really got, was the run around.
“Right after I did it, I was suspicious,” says Dussia.
Ilene isn’t the only one who’s had trouble with Bankcard Empire and the other companies affiliated with the charges on her credit cards.
The Better Business Bureau gives F ratings to Bankcard Empire, Davidan Corporation, Automated Business Group LLC, and Edgemont Productions LLC. All together, the BBB registered 487 consumer complaints against the Arizona companies.
The Michigan Attorney General says they’ve received 10 complaints in the last 2 years against Bankcard Empire
And the state of Illinois issued the company a Cease and Desist order – forcing Bankcard Empire to stop offering or selling business opportunities in that state.
“If it’s too good to be true, it’s not going to work, ever, no matter what,” says Adam Taub.
Ilene hired consumer attorney Adam Taub to take on the companies associated with Bankcard Empire – and the two credit card companies.
Taub says Ilene followed the law when she notified Chase and Discover in writing about the fraudulent charges – but he says they’re still asking her to pay up.
“We’re not asking Chase or Discover to pay big bucks; we’re asking them to do the right thing, and go away and get their money from the bad guys,” says Taub.
So Ilene is now suing – alleging that Chase and Discover violated the Fair Credit Billing Act. The lawsuit also accuses Edgemont Productions LLC, Davidan Corporation, and
Automated Business Group LLC of fraud, misrepresentation, and breach of contract.
I tried contacting all three companies – but there was no way of getting through.
Officials from the Better Business Bureau say a real work at home program will put everything in writing before they bring you on board – and you should avoid any job that requires you to pay up front.
“Never use your credit to make these investments right up front. Don’t be pressured to make a decision right away,” says Patrick Bennett.
Ilene Dussia says she doesn’t have $25,000 to pay off the charges – and now she fears her credit is ruined.
“Just really beware,” says Dussia.
Representatives from both Discover and Chase say they can’t comment on any pending litigation.
Here’s what experts say you should know about disputed charges:
Under the Fair Credit Billing Act, you have 60 days to inform your credit card company in writing about a disputed charge. It has to be a hand written letter, and it’s a good idea to send it certified mail. You must identify the account number, and the billing error in the letter. If you only call the credit card company, that doesn’t count – and you could waste time so that you end up waiving your rights.
Here’s what experts say about work at home schemes:
If you are asked to invest a lot of money in order to make a lot of money that should be a red flag.
You should ask:
How do I get paid?
Do I get paid a commission?
Do I get paid a salary?
Who pays me?
How do they substantiate the potential earnings I can make from the program?
Never use your credit to make investments up front.
Don’t be pressured into making a decision right away.
Some common schemes include envelope stuffing and medical billing work.
Get all of the answers to your questions in writing.
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