11 Feb

A Reader Researches Shop To Earn

Do you know who you’re doing business with? What’s the real story behind Shop To Earn and Shop To Earth? Why does this background information look so sketchy? Here’s what a reader of this blog found…

I’ve been approached over the past couple of months about shoptoearn, primarily by people in the real estate industry.

So I did a little research and was somewhat horrified at what I learned. I’m sharing the results with you in the hope that you will find it useful sometime to share with your readers and perhaps help some avoid shattered hopes and destroyed relationships.

from the shop2earn web site – their corporate address
3441 South Eastern Avenue
Las Vegas, NV 89109 USA

In reality this address is their accountant (who is also listed as their CFO?)
L.L. Bradford & Company
3441 S Eastern Av.
Las Vegas, NV 89169

From the shop2earn web site, their phone number
Phone: (410) 585-9394

Reverse lookup of this phone number, it belongs to
The Auto Dealer LLC
5501 Reisterstown Rd, Ste C
Baltimore, MD 21215-4429
(410) 585-9394

10 years to develop, part of it being the relationships with the various vendors? I applied and have received links identical (except for ID numbers) with the links used on the shoptoearn sites within HOURS, not years. A website that consists of thumbnails and links that could be constructed in about one hour.

You too can apply for these affiliate programs  at linkshare.com or cj.com, to just name a couple.

Try finding legitimate corporate info, contact information or any kind of history on any of the principals involved in shop2earn. I couldn’t. The domains they use are all registered under names that aren’t principals of the company or  with the contact info blocked by the registrar.

Training materials that are not posted on their sites. Sales pitches that are not posted on their sites. All to avoid future litigation due to unfulfilled promises.

Underlying data management software
purchased from genconsult.com,  that they promise can be up and running for you in a few weeks, including their Genesis Virtual Office MLM package (used at shop2earn, if you examine the source html) which will enable you to “be in business in 2-4 weeks and have the confidence to look and feel like a Corporate Giant.”

I’m not normally a person that gets involved in causes and have a strong ‘caveat emptor’ approach to the marketplace. This MLM, however, reeks. With people suffering in this economy, I hate to see them get their hopes up based on a scheme that can disappear overnight with little or no accountability.

29 thoughts on “A Reader Researches Shop To Earn

  1. That’s really crazy. Why would someone do business with a company who doesn’t disclose their ownership? Seems like you’d be putting yourself at pretty serious risk for fraud. Who are you going to go after if the business goes dark one day? I took a look at the Nevada business records and there weren’t any business entity filings for Shoptoearn. I was under the impression that this was a requirement for doing business in the state? Is it possible that they are operating illegally or under a name that isn’t disclosed on their website or in their contracts?

    I did see a recent filing for a company named Shoptofundraise. Not sure if owned by the same people as Shoptoearn, but it looks like a new version of the same MLM scheme.

    http://tinyurl.com/bbwo7v

    If you look into the history of Joeseph Raats, the manager of shoptofundraise, you’ll see that he was previously fined and had his real estate license taken away after he was accused of violating Arizon’a state escrow’s laws related to negative equity. He was also accused of abusing related party transactions and withdrawing $40,000 from the business after being instructed to make a $100,000 capital infusion.

    http://tinyurl.com/b5cbmn

    I’m not sure how to determine whether or not Mr. Raats is somehow related to shoptoearn, but if he’s going after non-profit organizations, it probably wouldn’t hurt to have someone take a closer look at his business too. There are a couple more people listed on the Nevada entity record for them, but if you look them up online, they appear to be more or less ghosts.

  2. So it gets a little bit more interesting. I was able to confirm that some of people listed in the Nevada filing are former Hockey players. One of them seems to have “misspelled” his name on the regulatory filing. I also found a hyperlink on the Shoptofundraise website that goes directly to shoptoearn’s site. This would suggest that the two companies have more then just a similar name in common. On the site, they list a number of non-profits that they claim to be working with. The links to their online stores don’t seem to be live yet, so I’m guessing that they haven’t done a full launch. All of this secrecy makes me wonder if any of these non-profits have a clue about the risks that they are taking or the background of the founders.

  3. Sorry about the multiple comments, but this just keeps getting more and more shady. If you look into the agent who filed the shoptofundraise entity search, you’ll see that his wife’s company is listed as a manager of STF. One of his previous entity filings was for a company named RED ROCK SPECIALTY PRODUCTS, L.L.C. Dwain Rittenhouse is listed as the manager. Mr. Rittenhouse also runs JCH Enterprises. Two years ago, one of JCH’s agents was arrested by US marshalls on 27 counts of contractor fraud related to Hurricane Katrina “work”.

    http://www.usmarshals.gov/district/la-e/news/032907.htm

    This doesn’t mean that Mr. Rittenhouse was necessarily involved or that he’s part of shoptoearn, but it does raise questions about the integrity of the clients that the shoptoearn founders have previously worked with.

  4. Thanks for that very interesting information, Davis. Though I can’t say I’m surprised that everything surrounding Shop To Earn is deceptive, scheming, and duplicitous.

    You probably also know from your excellent research that Shop To Earn also has a big fat “F” rating with the Better Business Bureau (BBB).

    I know several people who have been burned by Shop To Earn. For starters, they’ve lost a good amount of money and more than a few friends. It’s a shame because, as your research has illustrated, the execs at STE are pretty dimwitted and sloppy. If one is going to be scammed, it’d sure be better to be fooled by someone of at least moderate intelligence with a cutting-edge and worthwhile product (as opposed to a non-existent product).

    For anyone considering being affiliated with Shop To Earn, even the most cursory investigation (i.e. checking with the BBB or reading the FTC’s definition of an illegal pyramid scheme) makes it abundantly clear that Shop To Earn is a scam in every way. Then, too, there’s common sense – STE reeks.

    And for Shop To Earn to actually target non=profit organizations?! Now that’s a whole new level of low amongst sleazy pyramid schemers. Isn’t it enough to rob from the uniformed? Now they’re going to steal from non-profit organizations that are actually trying to do good in the world? Utterly shameful.

  5. Great post. When members show the site to new prospects, they instruct to the prospect to type the web address into their browser, rather than simply do a search for ‘shoptoearn’ – I guess all those scam alerts, that a search would throw up, are not good for business.

  6. My brother in law (against my adamant advice) got into STE and hasn’t earned a dime yet. Struggling with a newborn and a stay at home wife, he’s scrimping and pinching to make ends meet and was brainwashed into believing this would work. My husband has been [thisclose] to get into it too, but now I can show him and the rest of his family what this really is all about. Great post–I think I speak for all readers (except maybe Mr. Nehra, lol) when I say we appreciate your research!

  7. Amanda,

    Your brother in law should never have joined any MLM if he is scrimping and saving from week to week. MLM’s based upon shopping and referring only make sense for business people SPENDING and SHOPPING on the internet.

    My main concern here is that if this was a “sincere” blog site, then there would be no advertisements in the right hand margin for the owner’s benefits of this site.

    It appears to me that the owner of this site is very clever. People investigating a new MLM will find this site and be baited to be switched to one of the opportunities in the right hand margin, or worse yet, be baited and switched to buy a book promoted by the ownners of this site.

    I can tell you that the $448 dollars I spent on this MLM site was well worth the value when you realize the thousands of dollars I saved getting cash back on purchases and the discounts through the sites as long as I shopped. Website owners do not have to spend $100 per month on the green side.

    If the owner of this site was soooo righteous, they would not be promoting their books in the right margin of their site to people they are hoping to scare away from a possible business opportunity that is a gamble. If you can not afford to lose, $448 you should not risk it in any business opportunity.

    I have met many people in this business who have made money. And I have met many who have not made very much money due to their inability to not follow instructions.

  8. Expert Fraud Investigation:

    This is the book being promoted in the upper right hand margin. Can anyone tell me the purpose of this book? It seems as though this book is a recruiting tool for people to become “fraud investigators” on this site to critique legitimate companies.

    Here are the claims from the book review before you buy the book:

    The most common fraud schemes

    The difference between audits and investigations

    Effectively managing the investigation

    Looking for fraud in little things

    Using public and private records in investigations

    Getting creative as a fraud investigator

    Uncovering asset misappropriation schemes, financial statement fraud, corruption schemes, and external fraud schemes

    How to prevent fraud from happening in the first place.

    This sure looks like a recruiting scheme that only pays the author of the book and the website from click throughs from the work at home offerings in the right hand margin above.

    And Gee, I did not make a cent from this site with the time spent with my observations. At least with that shopping site, I got cash back.

  9. Yes, Lou… How DARE I promote the academic books I’ve written on my own website. Such a travesty!

    No, I’m not recruiting anyone to be a fraud investigator. But you already knew that. There’s no “bait & switch”, although such a suggestion is funny. You and I both know that those involved with MLM aren’t going to be interested in my book anyway.

    I’m not here to sell any MLM opportunity. I hate that I can’t stop all MLM companies from appearing in the Google ads. Unfortunately, if I want the worthwhile ads, then I also get the ads for junk like MLMs.

    Thanks for your insightful comments!

  10. STE does require a 1/3, 2/3 ratio of points in order to collect point commissions. These points will remain until your business sides balance. This does require reaching out to your associates or sponsoring new people to your business. You always receive cash backs from all the shopping done on your website portal by you, your family, and your friends. As soon as you are in balance again the total points will convert to cash; they do not “flush’ you do not lose them as long as you spend $100 per month shopping environmentally safe products. I have no problem with this requirement, I easily spend that and more on products I need and use every month. I have made alternative purchasing decisions regarding brand names, and I am happy to be using products that are safe for my family and the environment. The quality of these green products is excellent. It took a month to get my shopping list in order and now I shop the first of the month and I am set with what I need.
    Training and information is available for free in my virtual office, and corporate communication is ongoing in both directions. When I email a question, I receive an answer within hours, not more than 24. I can invite people to my website at any time to view a tour of the company and the opportunity I am inviting them to enjoy. I made back my Broker’s fee in the first two months. My business has grown to 21 people in four months. My associates are now on their own, shopping and growing their and my business. If you don’t get stupid, expecting something for nothing, this is a good business model and you can enjoy a residual income in a short time. Transferring your purchasing power to the internet and going “Green” are key to enjoying a steady monthly income. Whether you are at your desk or on vacation, you are in position to save, earn, and grow your business. We joined in January 09 and are going strong.
    Gail

  11. Gail – What you have is NOT a business. You don’t own anything. Not your customers, not your downline, not the right to get any cash back. You are perched atop a pyramid, and you’re there only as long as STE leaves you there. You have no rights and no say-so. Find a real business in which to invest your time and efforts.

  12. Just like politics… most people already have formed an opinion regarding MLM; and, it is unlikely that you will change it. I am in favor of this business model, as long as it is explained — which this one was. My comment: I know the Better Business Bureau ratings may change… and, Shop to Earn’s rating may have been an ‘F’ at the time the above blog posting was posted. However, as of today – April 27 ’09 – the company has a ‘B-‘ rating and has resolved the 4 complaints it has had. For the volume of business, I would say that’s not too bad.

  13. Better Business Bureau ratings are worthless, no matter what they are. How many MLM recruiters are telling their victims that there is a greater than 99% chance that they’ll lose money in the MLM?

  14. Hmmm… I find if funny, all these posts about what a scam it is. I’m really unsure of the credibility of this website. How can this be considered a scam? I know many people, some making alot, some not making anything with STE. The model is shop from your own portal and receive cash back. That seems to be simple, and happening. What’s the issue.

    As far as charities go, why not go after iGive, OneCause, and the like. They are “claiming” to be giving to charity, but they are pocketing half the affiliate money themselves. Getting rich off charities is a scam

    Why not look at Bank of America and their recently launched affiliate program. BofA will be making millions off affiliate marketing and their customers are none the wiser.

    Hats off to ShopToEarn by giving a higher % back than any other affiliate program out there!!!

  15. I am a business owner with nearly 100 employees. A good friend of mine told me about Shoptoearn and asked my opinion about it so I decided to spend some time and look into it. When I Googled the name this site came up and I read the article above.

    After doing some of my own research I could not find record of one single lawsuit filed against Shoptoearn. This does not mean they are not doing anything illegal, but interesting nonetheless considering all the allegations on this website.

    I am curious about what is so “horrifying” about what the writer of the article found?

    It is very common for people to register corprations in states like NV for a multitude of reasons, even if your business does not physically exist there.

    Read this: http://www.usnews.com/articles/business/small-business-entrepreneurs/2009/01/06/the-7-best-states-to-start-a-business.html

    Most business owners I know do not want their name and personal info out in the world for all to see. When people know you have money you are a target. Why make yourself an easy mark? The owners at Shoptotearn may have something to hide, but making that assumption just because their business is registered to an address that is not where their business resides is a bit far fetched and really quite naive.

    My business relies on several key pieces of software to run. Accounting, Inventory control, CRM, e-commerce, merchant services and many others. Guess what, we license all of that software from other companies such as Microsoft (I know, you will probably tell me they are a big scam as well, a lot of people dont like them either)

    The bottom line is most businesses do not write their own software to perform critical business processes and the fact that it appears Shoptoearn uses the company mentioned above for underlying data management means absolutely nothing.

    While I personally would never build a MLM business I have a few friends that have tried. Some have done well, others have not. The ones that have done well, have also done well owning their own businesses.

    My own observation in life has been successful people are successful in most things they try, while people that fail usually do so because they give up and quit when things get hard.

    What bothers me about the article above and several others on this site is the complete lack of objective factual information to back up the inflammatory statements being made. Don’t get me wrong, I am a big fan of people that expose fraud and scams and appreciate the intention of the site, but some of the articles on this site discredit its integrity to the point of making me question everything I read here.

    Its painfully obvious the author of this article has a personal vendetta against shoptoearn or a complete lack of understanding of how businesses operate. Either way, bad journalism.

  16. I have neither a “vendetta” against Shop to Earn, nor a lack of objectivity. I’ve done hundreds of hours of research into MLMs, and I know these scams for what they are…. thinly veiled pyramid schemes that find clever ways to get around the laws (which the government rarely enforces anyway).

    You should really research journalism versus blogging, too. There is a distinct difference, and I’ve never claimed to be a “journalist.” I’m a blogger. With an opinion. Which I like to share, even with people like you who don’t want to hear it.

    Not that it matters… this article was not written by me even though this is my site. But I was honored to be able to print it for the writer.

  17. Thank you for this blog people need to wake up start a real business that involves selling a product and not pimping other people out for money…

  18. What I always find interesting about people who defend these MLM scams is that they never seem to have a story about their own personal success. It’s always about how they know people or have heard of people who have made a lot of money. When you dig a little deeper they finally admit no they haven’t made any real money but they know that they will. Yeah well I have a lottery ticket for this Tuesday’s Mega Millions drawing. Lets see what happens. In all seriousness though folks the people who make money in these MLM systems are the ones who start them or the ones who get in at the launch phase. The main constant with these systems is that they come and they go. Once the system’s collapse the scammers are on to their next MLM idea to recruit people and snatch their money. I love the people who actually think this is their own business. Oh really? What’s it worth? Can you sell it at any point and get something for it? What kinds of lines of credit will a bank give you in order to grow it? Wake up people!!! I’m not surprised though. Once they have your money and you have burned bridges with your friends and family I too would bend over backwards insisting I wasn’t taken by a scam.

  19. Tracey,

    I have several businesses. And for the record, every person I would consider exposing to an MLM would be told in writing that 97% of the people who become involved in an MLM fail due to a number of factors ranging from not following instruction to not being able to engage in the business. So, unlike many 3rd party high pressure closing artists I expose to close at a later date after, and only after the recruit fully understands the philosophy and culture of the business and is ready to engage and duplicate the value of the business.

    As for your books, I would buy them on a cash-back shopping site or on a used book website like ebay or textbooks.com. I feel Amazon is very expensive and I feel that I can get a better price on the same book online.

    Finally, why don’t you expose one of the most cruel marketing tactics I have ever heard involving Facebook?? I was recruited by someone pitching a drink MLM know as efusjon with the promise that it was going to be launched on Facebook over the July 4th weekend. Many, many people were given the same pitch. Wait till you see the facebook launch and this compnay will go viral. Some people were pressured into signing up immediately on line so that they did not miss the launch. Well, I asked how much the upline distributors were making and no one made more than a thousand dollars in the past 6 months. The moral of this story is that if someone is desperate, the stay away….

    Well, it is the end of July and the company lauched on Facebook and instead of the efusjon drink opportunity being promoted in the margins of the facebook pages you have to find distributors who will guide through their website. So, they people promoting the drink used a “play on words” to bait people into getting involved in a drink MLM that has questionable ingredients according to some who have investigated the opportunity.

    Another worse and far greater scam is that of all of those “marketing coaches” on the internet preying on the 97% of those who are failing or about to fail in network marketing from their inability to follow directions. This horrible scam which is far worse than any MLM is that of “self proclaimed” experts selling referral leads and training videos that are no more than some general statements made in a folksie atmosphere reminiscent of a Saturday Nite Live skit.

    If you have done hundreds of hours of research into MLM’s you would have found that Shop to Earn is a legitimate company with a focus on online cash back shopping. You can join the company as a website owner, never refer another person and still make money from people shopping on your website. And you can also join as a preferred shopper for free and enjoy all of the products on the site with the benefits of online shopping coupons.

    So Tracey, I invite you to comparison shop from my site, which you have my website and email address. If you do your research and comparison shop you will save money on many products. However, you must comparison shop becasue some products will be higher priced due to various market conditions. I do not need any more referrals and I have made good money on this site from shopping as well as referring.

  20. Pingback: Inside ShopToEarn’s “customer service department” | Sequence Inc. Fraud Files Blog

  21. I am very interested in the Shoptoearn program and went to last nights “tour” in Tampa. I have been in MLM before…in fact that would be my question…Health4Wealth, have you investigated them? They are far more dishonest than what shop to earn is. I still receive checks but am curious about what EXACTLY makes a MLM wrong?? Is it because people make money for work they don’t officially do? Help me to understand.

  22. I signed up for STE about 3 months ago. I don’t understand why you guys claim it is a scam. You buy stuff that you already buy. You get a cash kickback. I shop at Target, Macy’s, etc. It’s not an MLM where you have to buy a specific product. Yes there is a $100 a month green product requirement, but that’s only if you want to qualify for a bonus, and even if you don’t qualify, your points are still waiting for you when you do. So what exactly is the scam part?

    I got started as a “business builder” for only a hundred bucks buy in. That is a very low start up cost. And yes, you need to keep your legs a little bit balanced or youw on;t qualify for a bonus, but you don;t lose those pints. They acrue and are still waiting for you when you do qualify.

    Can you save money other ways instead? You bet. Lots of stores ask for a membership fee and the give you good prices. I buy lots of stuff from thrifts tores too, and that’s a better deal that ATE. But that doesn;t make STE a scam.

    I can’t speak to the backgrounds of the founders, but every time I have needed help or had questions from like 6 levels above me I have gotten a call back within hours.

    I can see that if you don’t give a rat about green products then there isn’t quite as much appeal, but I’m not seeing a scam like everyone says.

  23. I find it funny people defending ShopToEarn always use the sme line ‘you get cash back on what you would purhase anyway’.
    first of all, most people don’t have a clue how the internet and affiliate’s work, and ShopToEarn thrives on people not being knowledgable about it.
    Secondly, it’s not ‘cash back’. All affiliates, which anyone can sign up for for free, which ShopToEarn did, and charge you to have links to ona page they create for you on their site (you own nothing), give you a ‘commission’. In this case, ShopToEarn gets the commision, which they take a portion of and give to you calling it ‘cash back’ (it’s taxable as well.. sign up for any affiliate rpogram or online ad program such as CJ or Google Adsense.. you have to file your tax info with them, get a 1099 at the end of the year, and you have gto claim everything you get, including cash from purchases you or someone else makes).
    I have several websites (as that’s my main business), mamny of which have affiliate programs on them. The so called ‘cash back’ is more from the same vendors than ShopToEarn gives you as they take a chunk of it for themselves.
    What ShopToEarn does is simple. Each affiliate link has a unique affilaite code in it (in the url itself). Your page on ShopToEarn (again, it’s jsut a page on their site, it’s not your site, you own nothing) has a tracker telling ShopToEarn who visits your page, and what they click on. When someone clicks a link and puchases something, ShopToEarn gets the commision from the sale or referral, and their tracker is telling them where and when the link was clicked. This is how they know who to give a portion of the commission to.
    Tyhe kicker is, people are spending over $400.00 to sign up for something they can do themselves for free, make more from, and hav etotal control over, msot people just don’t know they can.
    You will never find a true website developer or internet tech involved with such MLM’s because they know how it works. Even alot of novices who know how to get web hosting (even low casst at $5 per month) and build a simply html website know.

    Finally, as for Vegas. People register their business there when not realy in Vages because they do have something to hide and don’t want to be found, 90% of the time for legal reasons. ShopToEarn is run out of West Palm Beach, Florida, where the so called ‘owner’ lives. I’ve met him at meetings when people I know kept on my butt to join the scam. This was back when he was first taking off with it after ‘developing it for 10 years), and didn’t know any better than to talk about how he does the business (until he hired an out of work attorney, calle dhim a partner, yada yada yada). He uses ‘friends’ to register things under, nd uses their various addresses so if he is sued, he can’t be found (he can, but it takes awhile). It’s an old bit, nothing knew, people have been doing it for years. Almost every MLM does it with the exception of those who was forced to go legit due to lawsuits such as Avon, Amway, etc.
    The government does go after these pyramid schemes, but it takes them time. There are litterally thousands of them, with hundreds of new ones each day, it’s a huge caseload.

    Pay close attention to what the defenders of STE post here, then search other sites and blogs.. it’s all the same memorized speech. If they were making the money they claim, they wouldn’t care who posts something negative about STE, they’re making their money. but since they have so much time to try and defend such scams, obviously it’s bugging them that they can’t get as many people to sign up under them so they can make money as they would like.

  24. I live in west palm beach. I think religous people are more gullable to beleive anything even though facts state otherwise.

  25. Drdrew – It’s interesting you say that. What you allude to is called ‘affinity fraud’, where people easily get sucked into a scam because others whom they trust are part of it already. So, in a sense, your observation is accurate, not because religious people are gullible, but because for most people, their largest group of association is likely to be through their religious organization.
    For Madoff, it was religious, country clubs, and more, but it appears he had to do little promoting. His victims were his biggest promoters.

  26. WOW, you really can do all this for free. no need to pay 400.00. Or 100.00 per month. If STE gets enough suckers to buy in and click then i feel sorry for real sucker’s W-9 they used.

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