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Envelope Stuffing Scams

by Mike

As part of my continuing series of scam alerts, today we’re going to look at the ever popular envelope stuffing scams.

I’m sure you’ve come across ads promising that you can work from home stuffing envelopes and get paid anywhere from $500 to $3000 a week.  These ads come in our mailbox, newspapers, magazines, and even our email inbox.

Someone who is hoping to quit their day job or even just earn some extra money on the side might be tempted by these so-called legitimate envelope stuffing jobs.  Unfortunately if you take a closer look you’ll see that all is not as it first appears.

How Envelope Stuffing Scams Work

The scam starts with an advertisement placed in the newspaper, or perhaps an unsolicited email.  You read the headline promising you’ll earn hundreds or thousands of dollars per week for stuffing envelopes.  Sounds like a great idea for making money in your spare time!

So you send off your $29.95 processing fee along with a self addressed stamped envelope so they can send you a starter kit.

In a week or so you receive your started kit which is surprisingly small.  In fact it often consists of only one piece of paper.

Your starter kit simply instructs you to place newspaper ads or mail out fliers offering the same “deal” that suckered you in.  That’s right, now you will become one of the scammers too!

The envelopes you get paid to stuff are the ones that are sent to you by people who have read your ad and are looking for their starter kit.   The only time you’ll get paid is when someone new falls for the scam and sends you the $29.95 processing fee.

Doesn’t sound like the deal you were signing up for does it?

A little common sense would go a long way in helping you avoid envelope stuffing scams.  Just think about it.  Why would a company want to ship all of their mailings and supplies to you and then pay you an exhorbinant rate to mail them?

There are machines that can stuff envelopes automatically for pennies.  Or the company could just hire temporary workers for minimum wage.  It just doesn’t make any sense when you stop and think about it.

By the way a newer version of the envelope stuffing scams is called the data entry scam in which you pay a fee for a starter kit which simply tells you to place advertisements for their company.  You can read more about that one here.

{ 16 comments… read them below or add one }

Everyday Tips

I hate these scams. When I had my first child and was desperate to stay home, I looked into so many ‘work from home’ ideas. (Don’t worry, I never spend a dime or tried any of them.) However, I think many people do fall for it.

I just don’t get how people can take advantage of others like that. Chances are, those that are looking to stuff envelopes are not the most financially secure people in the first place. It is criminal.
Everyday Tips´s last blog post ..Have You Turned On Your Furnace Yet

Reply

Mike

You’re right the people who fall for these scams are probably the ones who can least afford it.

Reply

Aloysa

I never heard about this scam before. Thank you for posting. I never looked into the idea of working from home. Besides I am always suspicious of any offers that ask us to pay up front.
Aloysa´s last blog post ..Personal Finance in a Non-Confrontational Way

Reply

Mike

That’s a great point. Any “opportunity” that requires you to pay up front without knowing exactly what you’re getting is pretty shady.

Reply

Jenna

I think it would be way easier to fall for a data entry scam than an envelop stuffing scam these days. Thanks for the insight on how these scams work.

Reply

cm

I’ve seen this scam posted on fliers around college campuses and around cities for at least 20 years. Although I always thought it had to be an exaggeration, like so: maybe you got a penny/envelope and if you miraculously could stuff 50,000 envelopes/week, you could make $500/wk (which would be one envelope every 6 seconds, 12 hours a day, nonstop, 7 days a week!), and the “scam” was that no one ever would actually do that but companies got cheap mail labor this way…somehow.

Your explanation is infinitely simpler and more sensible! Thank you! I will now rip them down each time I see them.

Reply

Jesse

It’s amazing what people will do to make a buck. Even if I fell for the scam and got the instructions, I could never send that out to anyone else no matter if I thought others would fall for it and send me the money. It’s just wrong..
Jesse´s last blog post ..We Pulled The Trigger On a Used Car- Here is What We Learned

Reply

Andrew @ Money Crashers

I actually have never been a part of one of these scams, but it’s pretty creative and you can see how you might do it even though you’re totally against it because you want your money back. Have you heard of this thing, howtosharethewealth? This envelope scam reminds me of it, but it’s a different set up. You have to pay money to join, and then when you get others to join, you get all their money. If you get a chance to look at it, can you tell me if you think it’s a scam as well? Some legit friends have said they love it, but I am too skeptical to try it and don’t want to persuade others to join.

Anyways thanks for opening my eyes to this type of scam.

Reply

Mike

Hey Andrew,

I can’t say I’ve ever heard of the site you mentioned. I did a quick search and all I could find was something about an “opportunity” and some sort of wellness product. I can’t really offer anything definitive but my first impression is that it doesn’t pass the smell test. It speaks in very vague terms and doesn’t really give you any solid information about what you’ll be doing or how you’ll be making money.

I did find a forum post about a similarly named site…not sure if it related or not.

http://www.scam.com/showthread.php?t=57675

Mike

Reply

Andrew @ Money Crashers

It’s called howtosharethewealthDOTcom, and it redirects you to a different site cash tracking system. I was given a name and password. Anyways, I think your smell test is correct. If you do decide to take a look, let me know what you come up with! Thanks for checking it out Mike.

Reply

Mike

Andrew, I did a quick search and this looks like a cash-gifting program, which in my mind is pretty much a ponzi scheme. It does work similar to the envelope stuffing scam in that you have to keep convincing more people to join in order to get paid.

Here’s an article that explains them pretty well…

http://www.cashgiftingwatchdog.com/basics/what-is-cash-gifting/

Andrew @ Money Crashers

Mike, you’re the man. Thanks for looking into this. It confirms a lot of my worries about the program. I will avoid it. It’s crazy how even the craziest of schemes could actually be extremely profitable for us if we get in at the right time and get out at the right time. Still though, I’m not taking the risk on something like this. Thanks again Mike!

Reply

cm

Andrew, your comment impled you’d run the envelope stuffing scam if you could be guaranteed of making a profit? If so, you’re a dishonest scammer, right? That sits OK with you?

You want to think more about your comment?

Reply

Andrew @ Money Crashers

@ cm, nah, I’m not saying I would be a part of a Ponzi scheme if I could make money. For me, the problem arises in that I would be adding NO value to anything. No value to the economy, to society, or to the greater good. It simply is an isolated “scheme” that will last for a certain period of time (in madoff’s case, a long time) before it exhausts itself. But what amazes me is that even though there is no value added by these schemes, and there is nothing actually being accomplished that should help lead to profitability, there are STILL ways for people to make a ton of money…even those being scammed. It’s pretty crazy when you think about it. I’d say above all else, the reason to avoid these is in principle and how it is simply wrong to support these “machines,” as well as the huge risk involved even if you’re doing it solely for investment purposes!

Reply

cm

Got it. I’d go you one further and state that it is not only that you are not actively adding any value to the society, but you’d be actively harming the people that would answer the ads (since many people will themselves not be willing/able to further the scam). Just goofing off in the park also doesn’t actively add to society, but at least it doesn’t hurt anyone.

And yes, it is crazy (and sad) how much money some scammers have made.

Reply

Mike

Unfortunately it seems there will always be scammers trying to steal other peoples money instead of earning it legitimately.

Thanks for the comments/discussion guys.

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