A tipster (send in your tips here) brought the article below to my attention. It’s by Kevin Leininger out of Fort Wayne. I’m pasting the entire article here since I could not adequately capture the issue in an excerpt.
Now granted MacDermott is an adult and able to enter into an agreement but come on, does anyone think this was a reasonable situation to let happen? And if not, should the company promptly refunded her money and moved on?
You are not alone. I'm here to help. There is no need to suffer in silence. We can get through this. Tomorrow can be better than today. Don't give up.
The way Jacqueline MacDermott sees it, she has no one to blame but herself. But that’s true only if gullibility justifies exploitation of the weak.
I suppose there’s still a chance that’s not the case. The Arizona-based company that persuaded the admittedly scatter-brained 79-year-old widow to start a work-from-home debt-settlement business last month could still make MacDermott money – or stand behind its one-year, money-back guarantee.
And the Chicago Cubs might win the World Series before I die.
For now, though, MacDermott’s credit cards have been drained of more than $13,000 to underwrite an enterprise for which she is untrained and unsuited.
“They called and said they had a wonderful money-making opportunity for me to help get people out of debt. That intrigued me, because I know what it’s like to be overextended,” MacDermott said as she sat in her tidy south-side condominium, her bright yellow canary, Sugar Bird, singing in the background. “They were going to set me up with a website and consultant, so I gave them my credit card numbers, everything. And they picked my pockets clean,” she said of Millenium Marketing Systems.
It’s a scenario all too familiar to Better Business Bureau President and CEO Mike Coil.
“People are targeting seniors, no question about it,” he said. “It used to be that 99 percent of these ‘work-from-home’ offers were scams, fronts for identity theft or schemes to get credit card numbers. I haven’t seen this one, and some are OK now. But any time you’re asked to give money upfront, that’s a bad sign.”
As I said, I can’t say for sure what Millenium is doing is a scam. Even though its brochure offers a chance to “help millions of Americans … while giving yourself a chance for a better financial future” and is bursting with photos of happy, prosperous-looking people and exotic cars, homes and vacation spots, the literature cautions that “no business is guaranteed to make money, ever.”
So how was Millenium supposed to help MacDermott turn her “dreams into reality”? When I called the number in the brochure, the woman who answered the phone said she had no information to give. “We answer the phone for 12 companies,” she said, promising to refer my questions to the proper office – which never called back.
But as best I can discern from the brochure, the plan works something like this:
By signing up, MacDermott is to receive her “very own debt settlement web site built by industry professionals” and her “very own advertising consultant with years of internet experience” who would presumably help attract people to her site, with MacDermott receiving a commission on each settlement.
Most of the money charged to her credit cards by a company called Superior Marketing Solutions, also of Phoenix, is supposed to pay for “e-mail blasts” targeted at would-be visitors to MacDermott’s website. “We do some advertising” for Millenium, a Superior spokesman explained. Its billing statements contain typos but make the point: Despite Millenium’s money-back guarantee, her money is nonrefundable.
“Don’t ever give anybody any financial information over the phone. They’ll fast-talk you out of your money,” she said. Three Rivers Federal Credit Union is trying to help MacDermott challenge the bills, but regardless of what happens she is eager to share her story so others might avoid a similar fate.
If this is a scam, shame on those responsible. But there is plenty of shame left over for the rest of us, too.
As Coil noted, debt-reduction ads are becoming increasingly common on radio and TV, the message being that, well, the government is bailing everybody else out – so why should you have to pay your bills? While legitimate local organizations like Consumer Credit Counseling help people avoid bankruptcy through greater financial responsibility, others seek to profit by means that may or may not be quite so legitimate.
But think about it: When those seeking to collect what is legitimately theirs are widely portrayed as villains, and those seeking to avoid the consequences of their actions portrayed as victims, it should surprise no one that not even the most vulnerable and innocent among us are safe.
As for Millenium, the same people who apparently didn’t want to talk to me were quick to call MacDermott. They had been contacted by a reporter, they said, assuring her she had already made $900. The check should be in the mail by the first of the month, they told her.
And this time, at last, MacDermott is skeptical. – Source
The Underlying Pitch
it appears that MacDermott may have fallen for a pitch similar to the one offered on the web site below.
The site says there is a 1 Year Money Back Guarantee but from the story above the guarantee must be really conditional so nobody ever gets a refund.
The services pitched for people to sell are:
- Credit Repair – 35% of signup fee ($49- $63)
- Debt Consolidation – 50% of first month’s payment ($100-$1000)
- Merchant Cash Advance – 4% of client’s cash advance amount
- Debt Settlement – 4% of client’s debt load – Source
I could not find any warnings about licensing or regulation needed.
Post your comment below and let me know what you think of the accuracy of the sales message below promoted by Millennium.
Thank for taking a few minutes of your time to hear about our amazing turnkey opportunity that allows anyone with a desire for a better financial future, a chance to earn up to $5,000 per sale. Now, we know what you’re thinking, another get rich scam. Well let me stop you right there! This is not a Get rich quick scheme and no, we are not going to tell you how to make millions in your sleep. But what we will share with you is a simple opportunity that will allow you to have a better financial future and do the things that you have always wanted to do. Whether its spending more time with your family, not having to worry about how to pay that next bill, buying your first home, taking those dream vacations, or maybe even firing your boss all while helping millions of Americans live a debt free life.
Let us Explain.
2K Home Biz has put together an affiliate debt settlement program that plugs you in to one of the biggest markets known to man, the internet. That’s right, The World Wide Web. Now I know the internet for some of you, can be intimidating so before you close the door on this opportunity, please understand that ANYBODY can make money with this program. There is no selling, no cold calling, no advertising or marketing experience, and if you’re on this website right now, then you have already shown that you have more than enough computer and internet knowledge.
Here is how it works.
When you sign up with our debt settlement affiliate program, you will receive your very own debt settlement website built by industry professionals. We will host, maintain, and give you your very own domain name for the life of your business. Just a onetime setup fee. Because we understand that your success is directly affected by your advertising, as part of the program you will receive your very own advertising consultant with years of internet advertising experience. Your advertising consultant will work with you one on one to give you the attention you need and deserve to help you bring thousands of potential customers to your site that are looking for the products and services your website offers. Cause, let’s be honest. Even if you had the world’s greatest product, if you’re not advertising effectively your business won’t make you a dime.
So be sure to work closely with your advertising consultant. It’s as easy as picking up the phone and letting him or her lead the way. Your website will offer services such as, debt settlement which will allow clients to settle all of their debts in full in 1 to 60 months, have one easy monthly payment, and become debt free. It will also offer credit restoration, giving customers a chance to see a 20 to 30 point increase on their credit report each and every month. Your website will also offer debt consolidation and credit building tools, giving them a chance to have all past due accounts brought current again. No more calls or letters from bill collectors.
So here’s your chance to help Millions of Americans, live a debt free life while giving yourself a chance for a better financial future. Whether you’re looking to supplement or replace your income or be your own boss, WE CAN HELP. STOP LIVING PAYCHECK TO PAYCHECK and struggling to get by. Stop wishing and wanting for things to happen. It’s time to act and make things happen. – Source
Here is the full Millennium Marketing Systems message people have seen to buy into their own debt settlement home business.
It appears that these sites may be related to this business opportunity since they reside on the same server as the demo site. Most of them are registered to Millennium Marketing Services and others have private domain registration.
Realsucksbigtime.com – Interesting. Re’al Fontaine is the guy that own the Millennium Marketing domain names.
The Millennium Marketing site provides a link to the following demo site, DebtToCreditNow.com.
Here is what the demo site has to say about debt settlement services.
Be it credit card debt settlement or consolidation, you can get the required quotes and consultations on our site without even signing up for it. And that’s not all. We also provide effectual credit building tools that help add positive trade lines to your credit.
Our association with creditors helps you get fast approvals. Take your money back if you are not satisfied. Referrals from the Better Business Bureau approve of us being an accredited Debt Settlement Company with a pristine record. We offer really comprehensive services, to provide you relief from the mounting credit card debt, at the lowest prices that you won’t find anywhere. It’s high time you get to discover real financial freedom. So, repair your credit now and stay debt free for life! – Source
The demo site also says, “No cost to you nor to your company.”, “Results are GUARANTEED!”
It seems that Crusader Consumer Services is the underlying service provider for the sites. The testimonials on the DebtToCreditNow.com site all appear to be about Crusader Consumer Services and not DebtToCreditNow.com. – Source. And in fact they are the same testimonials used on the Crusader Consumer Services site. –Source
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