There must be nothing more frustrating when you have to cry I have been cheated! I have been ripped off. I have been scammed….you get the message! There are more ways to easy riches being sold over the Internet than genuine business opportunities that work well.

Have you ever asked why this is the case? A business opportunity may sound very good on paper but if you are not able to fully test its feasibility and pay good money in the hope that this is the one that is going to work – only to find it does not provide the rapid riches and way to quit your day job – where do you go to get compensation?

This is where I have to be very careful – most of the business ideas that you do see on the Internet will work…to a degree. This means that they are not out and out frauds or scams but business ideas that you have not been able to make work. This might be for a number of reasons:

1. You might not have the skills needed to run the business – for example you might need to be able to write articles quickly and your writing skills are mediocre.

2. You might not be prepared to invest the required amount into the business. For example you might need to use “pay per click” advertising in order to make a profit. If you do not speculate enough you might not even reach the threshold where any return is made.

3. There may be so much competition in the particular business idea you have chosen that you do not stand a very good chance of making a mark.

4. It is possible that the seller of the business opportunity has exaggerated the potential of the business so much that it could never work regardless of the money or the time you invested or the skills you were able to utilise.

In the latter case the seller of the business has misrepresented what he was selling. This is against the Trade Descriptions and Advertising Misrepresentations Acts. It could also be caught by the Theft Acts and of course the more recent Fraud Act 2006.

So you have the option of reporting the scam to the police. Unfortunately the police will probably pass the report (or more likely tell you to do it yourself) to your local Trading Standards office. This department within you local council is responsible for investigating such cases and if there are enough complaints when collated from around the country it is possible that an investigation will ensure. However, do not hold your breath expecting you money back – the primary focus of Trading Standards will be to close down any inappropriate activity.

If the seller is a Limited Company, a complaint to the Insolvency Service’s Companies Investigation Branch may also trigger an investigation. If the business opportunity is a scam, and is trading not in the public interest, then it is possible that it will be closed down and even that the directors prosecuted. Again, it is unlikely that you will get your money back.

So how would you get your money back if you felt that you have been ripped off. How do you get satisfaction when you cry “Help, I’ve been cheated”? Apart from complaining to the authorities and helping to protect the public by making it difficult for these fraudsters to trade, writing to or visiting them persistently is probably one way of standing a chance of getting some recompense. If you sound as if you know what you are talking about (for example dropping the names of trading standards and companies investigation branch into your letter) you might be lucky.

The honest truth is that you should do your due diligence when choosing a business opportunity!

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