Over 40 year old family owned business in Biloxi becomes victim of business identity theft

  
     
July 31, 2017

M & L Gifts, LLC located in Biloxi, MS has become one of the latest victims of business identity theft.  BBB serving Mississippi was alerted by several consumers to a company offering high paying part-time jobs selling products and gift cards to be sent overseas. All applicants were sent an employment agreement and instructions on what to do next.  When the applicants questioned what type of job they would be performing, they received the original documents via email again.  One consumer was asked to provide their credit report and banking information for direct deposit of their paychecks.  BBB opened an investigation into the company and it’s business, only to find out they didn’t really exist.  Mail was returned from the address listed on the company’s website and emails were not answered.  When a BBB investigator went to the location listed on the company website, no business was found at the address.

During the investigation, BBB was contacted by the family that actually owns M & L Gifts, LLC, which used to be located in Edgewater Mall, advising BBB that they were a victim of identity theft.  According to the family, M & L Gifts, LLC, after over 40 years of doing business in the Edgewater Mall, decided to close their mall location and just do business online.  However, the registration for the domain was not kept and expired.  Since the domain, http://mandlgifts.com, was now available and legitimate, it was most likely hijacked by someone, who then used the website to offer the fraudulent part-time jobs.  BBB suspects the intended use was individual identity theft.  “As more and more small businesses stop using their own websites and switch over to social media platforms to attract customers, they need to remember to renew that domain so it cannot be used by anyone else.” says Jackie Warren, investigator for BBB serving Mississippi.

Despite exciting promises, work at home offers are notorious for leaving potential workers high and dry. They promise large sums of money for various enterprises like filling out online surveys, home craft assembly, internet consulting, and home typing offers. Many of these offers even claim that you can earn a sustainable regular income, often exceeding the salaries of average full time workers. Advertisements can be found everywhere from newspaper ads to telephone poles.

THINKING ABOUT WORKING AT HOME?

Some things you should consider first

  • Check out the company. Learn how long it has been in business and if it has received any complaints. Contact the Attorney General, local consumer protection agencies, the Better Business Bureau, and the Secretary of State in the state where the company is headquartered.
  • Get all earnings claims in writing. Be sure it includes the number and percentage of others who have earned as much as the promoter claims. If the promoter hesitates or refuses, walk away from the deal.
  • Be skeptical of past success stories. Ask the promoter to give you the names of previous consumers so you can pick and choose whom to call. When speaking to references, ask them for the names of their clients and details of their operations. You may also consider meeting references in person. Again, at any sign of hesitation on the part of the promoter or references, walk away.
  • Check out the refund and cancellation policies. A company will often offer to refund your money only if you have operated according to their instructions or if your products meet their standards, which are usually very high. Ask to get their refund and cancellation policies in writing.
  • Consult an attorney, accountant, or other business advisor before you sign any agreement or make any payments. If the company requires a deposit, you may want your attorney to establish an escrow account where the money will be maintained by a neutral third party.

QUESTIONS TO ASK

Legitimate job opportunities require a contract - in writing – outlining what's involved in the work you are providing or the program they are selling to you. Here are some questions you might ask a potential work-at-home employer:

  • What tasks will I have to perform? (The employer should give you a step by step training about the process)
  • Will I be paid a salary or will my pay be based on commission?
  • Who will pay me?
  • When will I get my first paycheck?
  • What is the total cost of the work-at-home program, including supplies, equipment and membership fees? What will I get for my money?