RICHMOND, VA (WWBT) - The economic downturn is creating a boom for con artists, and the federal trade commission says it's working to put them out of business.
"Their scams promise jobs, access to free government grant money or the chance to make a living by working at home," said FTC's David Vladeck. "But these promises deliver nothing. They raise people's hopes and then they drive them deeper into a hole."
The FTC and fourteen states have joined forces in a crackdown dubbed operation Short Change. They are going after scammers who use everything from print ads and automated phone calls, to the internet and TV.
"These schemes target men and women, urban and rural communities, people of all backgrounds," said Assistant Attorney General Tony West.
"Complaints to my office are up 27 percent compared to a year ago and many other state attorneys general can tell you the same thing," said North Carolina Attorney General Roy Cooper.
Beverly Steward is one of the victims.
"I was really hopeful. I really thought sending them that last $89 would get me a job because they told me I'd make anywhere from $13-15 an hour and when that didn't happen, I mean I was devastated," said Steward.
Convicted scammer Jim Vitale appeared in a video produced by the FTC.
"The best advice I can give to anybody... Fast ‘no's and slow ‘yes's," said Vitale.
And perhaps even better advice - the FTC says be careful if it sounds too good to be true.
Beverly steward's story has a happy ending. She got her $89 back and she got a new job.
For more information or to report a scam yourself you can go to the FTC's website, we've put a link online at nbc12.com under "all access."
(c) 2009. WWBT, Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.