Offers for business opportunities pour into e-mail boxes everyday. These offers are the most common type of unsolicited, or spam, commercial e-mail. Also, many of these so-called "offers" are actually scams. Due to the prevalence of scams among unsolicited business offer emails, the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) is asking people to forward unsolicited commercial e-mail to them. In fact, the FTC has found that most bulk e-mail offers appear fraudulent.

What Are the Most Commons Scams?

The FTC has found that some of the most common scams are:

  • Business opportunities
    • These e-mails will inform the consumer that it is easy to start a business with high earnings potential without much work or investment. You are usually given a phone number to call if you wish to participate. Many of these "opportunities" are illegal pyramid schemes.
  • Bulk e-mail
    • These offers will try to sell you lists of e-mail addresses so that you can send your own solicitations. They may also offer to do the e-mailing for you. However, sending bulk e-mail may be against the policy of many Internet service providers, and if you engage in sending out such emails, you may be shut down. It is also possible that you may be breaking state laws.
  • Chain letters
    • This scam is similar to the traditional chain letter. You are told to send money to a certain number of people on a list, replace one name with another one or your own name, and then forward the message to others. These schemes are usually illegal, and most people just lose money when they participate.
  • Work-at-home schemes
    • You may be promised steady income for work-at-home activities, such as envelope-stuffing or craft assembly work. However, you will usually have to pay a small fee to get started. Then, instead of envelope-stuffing, for example, you will be required to perpetuate the scam by sending the same offer to others.
  • Health and diet scams
    • Some e-mail messages may offer to sell you weight-loss pills or herbal formulas. These substances supposedly do not require much, if any, effort on your part to achieve results. These scams do not work.
  • Effortless income
    • Some schemes will offer you unlimited profits in easy-money opportunities. However, such wealth usually requires more effort and hard work.

What Other Kinds of Scams Are There?

There are many other kinds of scams in bulk e-mail. You may be offered free goods, but only if you pay a fee and recruit other participants. You may also be confronted with investment opportunities that promise high rates of return with low risk. Other scams offer cable descrambler kits for a small fee, which usually never work. You may be offered guaranteed loans or credit on easy terms that are also fraudulent. Credit repair scams may offer to erase negative information from your credit file, but they fail to deliver on their promises. Finally, you may be told that you have won a vacation prize, but claiming the prize may require the payment of a fee.

Do I Need a Lawyer Experienced with Bulk E-mail Scams?

A knowledgeable lawyer may be able to help you detect a fraudulent bulk e-mail scam. A lawyer can also inform you of any risks you run when pursuing any offer in an e-mail. If you run into any of these offers that you are thinking about pursuing, you may want to consult a lawyer, as well as the FTC.