Complaints to BBB Point to Deceptive Work-At-Home Scheme in NYC
BBB Metro New York is alerting the public to reports of a work-at-home envelope stuffing scheme claiming to be based in NYC.
August 28, 2014

Contact:
Tracey Anton, Director, Marketing & Communications
Phone: 212-358-2828 | Email: tanton@newyork.bbb.org

Susan Cuomo, Senior Manager, Information & Investigations
Phone: 212-358-2826 | Email: scuomo@newyork.bbb.org

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: August 28, 2014

Complaints to BBB Point to Deceptive Work-At-Home Scheme in NYC 

(New York, NY) -  Better Business Bureau Serving Metropolitan New York is alerting the public to reports of a work-at-home envelope stuffing scheme claiming to be based in New York City.

In early June 2014, consumers began complaining to Metro NY BBB about mailed solicitations they received from Mason Grace Enterprises (Mason Grace) offering work-at-home opportunities. Consumers eager to earn extra income say these mailings offer earnings of up to $5,000 week for stuffing and mailing out envelopes. Metro NY BBB received six reportable complaints about this business in the past two months, and multiple inquiries from other BBBs nationwide, indicating the scope of this operation.

“Consumers should always be cautious when they receive work-at-home offers that seem to promise big paychecks for completing simple tasks,” said Claire Rosenzweig, President and CEO of the BBB Serving Metro New York.  “Instead of making money, consumers in these situations frequently end up losing money, setting them back even further financially.”

Mason Grace mails solicitations to individuals with attractive income opportunities.  The application form invites consumers to order the Mason Grace envelope-stuffing materials in various amounts, with labels such as “Income Group #1 (Earn $490).” The highest income group offer lures people with “Earn $5,000.” Although the claims in the mailer sound as though the consumer will get paid for stuffing envelopes, in fact, the consumer only gets paid for the letters mailed back to Mason Grace in response to the letters the consumer sends out. In addition, consumers are not reimbursed for the materials or postage unless Mason Grace receives response letters back.

Metro NY BBB believes much of the Mason Grace mailer is deceptive or misleading:

  • The mailer says consumers “have nothing to lose” and that there is “FREE POSTAGE.” This could mislead consumers because they must stay with the program and be successful enough to receive nine (9) paychecks to be eligible for reimbursement of the money they laid out for the materials and postage.
  • It also says, “All you have to do is stuff the envelopes that we send you with the letters that we send you, and then mail them out so that you can receive your pay check.” It does not mention that the consumer must pay for postage out-of-pocket or that the mailed letters must be returned to Mason Grace in order to receive compensation or reimbursement for expenses.
  • The mailer states there is a “Money Back Guarantee,” but this is no guarantee, because although it says that the initial fee will be refunded and expenses reimbursed with “every 9th paycheck,” the paycheck only comes if response letters are returned to Mason Grace.

In several of its responses to complaints filed with BBB from consumers seeking refunds, Mason Grace cites the terms and conditions on its website at (http://www.masongraceenterprises.com/) as the reason for the refusal to refund consumers. These terms are complicated, convoluted, and appear to make it unlikely that a consumer will be able to obtain a refund. In addition, the terms and conditions for terminations and refunds published on the website are contained in a section titled “Business Opportunity Rule” and located in the middle of a 6,000-word document. In the same section is Mason Grace’s statement that results are not guaranteed, and that “it is possible to achieve no results even if method is implemented correctly.”

Mason Grace claims to be located at 100 Church Street, 8th Floor, New York, NY, 10007. To date, Mason Grace Enterprises is not registered as an active entity with the New York Department of State Division of Corporations. The domain for the website at is privately registered with GoDaddy as of June 18, 2014, for a one year period.

Metro NY BBB has reached out to this company on multiple occasions to obtain additional background information about the business. Mason Grace has not responded to those requests. In addition, BBB sent several inquiries about the potentially deceptive and misleading advertising in the mailing offers. The first notice about the advertising concerns sent to Mason Grace was acknowledged by Richard Charlton, Director, but his response failed to provide clarification or substantiation of issues. To date, Metro NY BBB has not received a response from the company to the second notice sent to Mason Grace.

Consumers who receive any solicitation offering employment as a work-at-home envelope stuffer are advised to be cautious. Before signing up for any work-at-home opportunity, job hunters are advised to:

  • Check out any company at bbb.org to view its BBB Business Review free of charge. There you will find the company’s history of complaints and contact information.
  • Beware of any offer that guarantees a lot of money for little effort and no experience. Thoroughly read the website’s terms and conditions, keeping in mind that a seemingly free trial could cost you in the end.
  • Be skeptical about receiving a job offer without filling out an application, meeting with the business or being interviewed.  It’s probably a scam.
  • Watch out if you are being asked to make an advance payment as a fee or to get in on the ground floor of a big opportunity.  This is a red flag, especially if it is a large payment or the company doesn’t provide much information about the deal.
  • Protect Your Personal Information: Handing your Social Security number or other personal information to suspicious sources could lead to identity theft.

For more advice on work-at-home offers see:

http://www.consumer.ftc.gov/articles/0175-work-home-businesses

https://postalinspectors.uspis.gov/radDocs/consumer/wahscams.htm

If you believe you have been a victim of a work-at-home scam you can file a complaint with the BBB at newyork.bbb.org or bbb.org.  You may also file a complaint with Postal Inspectors online or call Postal Inspectors at 1-877-876-2455 (option 4, Mail Fraud).

For more tips you can trust, visit www.newyork.bbb.org, and to sign up for our weekly scam alerts, visit https://cbbb.wufoo.com/forms/email-sign-up/