How can I tell if an e-mail offer is legitamate?

Posted By : of Data Doctors on March 25, 2002

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How can I tell if an e-mail ad for starting a business on the Internet is legitimate?

- Reggie

This question was answered on March 25, 2002. Much of the information contained herein may have changed since posting.

Unless you are just getting started using e-mail, you have likely been bombarded with 'spam' (unsolicited e-mail) claiming to unlock the secrets to making money on the Internet.

On average, I receive between 15 to 20 of these messages every day claiming everything from the ultimate home business to helping royalty funnel money out of Nigeria to setting up an Internet business that requires no selling, no inventory and no experience!

The general rule of thumb is that if it's spam, it's a scam, because legitimate businesses don't use spam as a marketing method If you respond to these unscrupulous marketers (a.k.a Dot Cons), not only do you stand the chance of being ripped off, you will likely get your e-mail address circulated as a known 'sucker'.

For the most part, these scams are nothing new; they are just easier to spread because of e-mail Most have what sound like compelling testimonies of others that have made a fortune using the 'system' and a low cost to get started.

But as with the classic scams, the only ones that are making money are the ones selling the 'system'.

Let's take the 'setup shop on the Internet' ads Here is an excerpt from one of the many that I have received:

'Suppose I told you that you could start your own Internet business today and enjoy these benefits: For less than the cost of dinner for two at a middle class restaurant.

You will Enjoy:

- No Employee's

- Never have to talk with anyone

- All Customers Pay You In USA-Cash before you do anything!!!


- Orders come in daily.

- You Will Sell A Product That Costs Nothing to Produce!

- Your Only Overhead is Your Time and current Internet connection!

- You Have 100s of Millions of Potential Customers WORLD WIDE!!!

- You Get Detailed, Easy to Follow Startup Instructions plus

Professional partner support!

- Work your own schedule Part Time and be your own BOSS!!?

If it's so easy and works so well, why are they wasting time trying to get others to do it?

The reality of the Internet is that it takes large sums of money to properly setup and market legitimate products online.

Not only do you need to be able to setup a useful secure site, but you also have to be able to distinguish yourself from the other 300 million sites that are making the same claims!

The worst part is that individuals that fall for these scams can end up losing large sums of money.

According to Internet Fraud Watch ( the average amount of money that consumers are losing per incident is increasing The average loss per person rose from $427 in 2000 to $636 in 2001.

The type of scam has the most to do with the average amount:

Nigerian Money Offers - $6,542

Computer Equipment/Software - $1,102

General Merchandise Sales - $845

Internet Access Services - $568

Online Auctions - $478

Information Adult Services - $234

Work-At-Home - $120

The Better Business Bureau web site ( has an easy to use online database that you can access to see what rating a particular company has, but most won't even appear because of their 'fly-by-night' methods of doing business.

My advice: don't respond to ANY unsolicited offer in your e-mail, just delete the message and keep your money!

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Posted by of Data Doctors on March 25, 2002

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