Cheesy TV Ads are an Elaborate Privacy Scam

Update: A privacy policy was added on August 3, 2004. See the post Prospect Performance Scam Update for more info.

I caught an interesting commercial last night on BBC America. And by “interesting” I mean “sickeningly sleazy and deeply disturbing.” You see a Generic White Man in front of a computer, speaking miscellaneous vaguaries about “being your own boss” and “achieving financial independence.” He enthusiastically recommends a website where you can learn all about starting your own business from home, intermixed with scripted testimonials from ethnically diverse actors claiming to earn thousands of dollars per month, all because they took the plunge and visited this miracle website.

The strange thing is that the website is never mentioned by name in any of the live-action footage, only referred to in non-specific terms as “this website.” The actual url appears at the bottom of the screen in a black bar. My friend Bill said he’s seen the exact same commercial at other times but with different urls. In this particular instance the domain advertised was “”. A rather dubious-looking domain name, and we all know that “work at home” is a key phrase in all sorts of MLM scams. So of course my investigative curiosity was piqued and I just had to visit “the website.”

The site consists of a single page, with Generic White Man in the upper-left corner and a Generic White Couple in the other corner, sitting on a couch sharing a laptop (a situation which only occurs in stock photography). The text makes further cliched references to “firing your boss,” “setting your own hours” and earning oodles of money with no business experience neccessary. And just in case you weren’t totally stoked yet, the benefits are illustrated with even more stock photos of sunset beaches, luxury sedans, and stacks of cash. So what are all these smiling people so happy about? What is the secret to financial independence? Well you’ll just have to fill out a simple form and you can find out for free! This has SCAM written all over it, in flashing red slab-serif neon.

Every field of the form is required, including address, email, phone number and time of day you can be reached. There’s also a short dropdown survey asking such questions as “What time commitment are you able to invest” and “How much of a financial investment are you capable of” ($250 is the lowest answer possible). A brief inspection of the site reveals that, surprise!, there is no privacy policy to be found, and no clear indication of just what you’ll be getting in exchange for your personally identifiable information. The flashing SCAM sign just went into overload.

A quick search on Google Groups for the domain “” turned up this thread from NANAE from a few weeks ago, connecting the site(s) advertised in the commercial to another site run by the same company, Guerra Communications LLC. Visiting reveals the second part of this scam. Guerra is selling the information gathered through their numerous advertised domains to a network of home businesses, with the freshest victims demanding the highest prices.

It works like this: You stay up late watching cable TV and see one of these creepy ads for an untrustworthy website, promising financial freedom by working from home. You’re curious, gullible, or just not very bright and you submit your information with the promise of receiving guidance on starting your own business. Your personal details are then handed over, Glengarry style, to someone else who runs their own business from home and paid as little as twelve and a half cents to find out you’re a sucker. This stranger then contacts you by email, snail mail, or phone and attempts to recruit you into their business model in standard pyramid scheme manner.

So why the vague commercial and changing domain names? My first assumption was that the domains were spamming, and hence changed frequently as each one got shut down for abuse. However, they all seem to be hosted at the same IP on the same provider. My assumption now is that it’s just a simplistic means of tracking which TV ads generate the most leads. gets pitched on BBC America at 12:30 AM, on some other channel at some other time, in yet another slot. It’s a wide range of domains all pointing to the same page.

Screenshot of Mozilla's cookie confirmation dialog. I denied it of course.

Each domain sets a cookie with a unique identifyer that expires in two months, to track repeat visits. That identifyer is also inserted into a hidden field, submitted with the form. This means that your personal information could be directly associated with other bits of data, like your IP address, ISP, OS, browser and so forth, which could also easily be sold to third parties. Creepy as hell.

The Prospect Performance site features a FAQ page, containing this choice gem (emphasis mine):

Where do you get the leads?
We generate all of our prospects through various forms of advertising media including Internet Sources, Print Media and Television, and then send to one of our capture pages where the individual has completed a request form looking to start a Home Based Business. Since these leads are captured online, all leads contain a valid email address. These leads are all “Opt-in”, & can be safely contacted without the fear of Spam complaints.

Hmm… funny, I don’t see anything on the 7career infoharvest page that says I’m granting any permission to be contacted by third parties. And there’s no privacy policy at all, so I hardly see how they can legitimately claim I’m opting-in to get called during dinner and spammed into oblivion by every two-bit scammer who shells out a few bucks for enough raw data to invade my life to a dangerous degree. Guerra Communications is harvesting personal information and selling it to anyone who wants it, no two ways about it. The privacy violation is apalling, and the lack of disclosure may even be illegal.

These “work from home – get rich quick” offers are almost always multi-level marketing schemes, of the type made famous by Amway and Herbalife. You invest a chunk of your own money for the startup kit and have to hustle like mad to earn it back. But to make any real money you have to recruit suckers of your own so you can advance to a higher level and get the promised payoff. Of course, those you recruit try to recruit their own network of suckers in turn, and the only people getting rich are the very few at the top of the chain. Hence, a “pyramid scheme.” If every member of the plan recruits two more, you have a geometric progression that doubles at every level and you’ve recruited the entire planet in no time. Unless you’re in the top few tiers, you’re never going to make a dime. You just shelled out a wad of hard-earned cash for a bunch of ineffective diet pills or holiday candles or shampoo that turns Greg’s hair orange.

If you want to start a home business, you should start with an original idea instead of listening to tacky commercials on late-night cable.


  1. Just saw an identical commercial here in Montreal Canada on the local ABC station. The website they urge you to visit for financial nirvana is www [dot] 3moreincome [dot] com
    We should start a listing of all urls these sleaze bags register.


    [ I edited the url so WordPress doesn’t auto-link it, I’m not going to contribute to their pagerank. – C ]

  2. Here are the domain masks I’m aware of so far.
    I’ll add to the list as I learn of them…


    I’ve only actually seen one of the commercials, perhaps I just don’t watch enough tv. Anybody know of a way to find all the domains registered by a particular company? Or perhaps all the domains that direct to one IP?

  3. we’ve just seen ads here in san mateo california for:

  4. It appears to be “www [dot]” on cable/satellite. I received it in Indiana from DirecTV…..

  5. Just saw it on the Fox station here before the 10:00 news for 5mycareer . com

  6. Ok sorry Craig(for contacting you through the contact us page) found the comment section. Saw on AMC channel here in South Dakota same exact commercial on the Prospect Performance/Guerra Communications issue. Add to list

  7. Terry, no problem. I must not watch the right channels because I still haven’t caught it again. I wonder what the tracking pattern is… like is it always the same domain on a given channel, but different numbers depending on timeslot? Any unemployed folks with lots of time on their hands willing to draw up a chart?

  8. Another one for the list:

    www [dot] 5EarnMore [dot] com

    Seen on Americast Cable in Atlanta, GA.

  9. I just checked out the “scam” site at www[dot]…. I was curious about the whole thing ’cause it sounded REAL fishy… but before I tried anything through the site, I went to Google and typed in “Guerra Communication LLC complaint” and it sent me here… glad to see someone is tracking these sharks. Thanks.

  10. In doing my own investigating I came across the actual site where they may be selling the contact information that they collect, it is “prospectperformance dot com”. Basically it is as you have discribed, a subscription service for MLM wantabes to aquire mailing list from Guerra Communications.
    Be careful what you ask for!

  11. Lou, I mentioned Prospect Performance in the post, but I’m not linking directly to any of these sites (because I refuse to contribute to their search engine ranking) so it got kinda buried in the text.

    And it’s been weeks and I still haven’t seen the damn the commercial again.

  12. After seeing commercials for several of the above mentioned domains, I just saw a new one here in Phoenix….

  13. I saw it here in Buffalo, New York for “” on one of the broadcast channels.

  14. I caught one of the commercials on the Speed Channel and it wasn’t even that latein the evening ( around 9:30). The first site listed was www[dot] Took a look at the site out of curiosity and closed it immediately. Just a few days ago I caught the same commercial with the site www[dot]

    Glad to see someone is keeping track of these sites

  15. In New Orleans at almost any hour from 10 p.m. on there has been;;,; Some of the sites cannot be located except one of the urls came out to be From that SearchSurveys contacted me five times with offers of adding free other things to do besides surveys such as meals and driving. Yes, I am one of the out-of-work people desperate to have work and have been looking at these sites. I was even sent a two-part interview with SearchSurveys and Beverly about how she set up 300 sites to do surveys in order to make money and explained how she slowly worked her way to this height. The site offered to pay from $5 to $250 for surveys, depending on how long they took to complete. The companies would send the money ASAP. Mystery Shopping was also mentioned by SearchSurveys. I have done that as an extra job for two companies years ago and they both paid immediately. One was Pinkerton, so I figured they were for real. Actually both were. Currently I am interested to see where SearchSurvey leads me. I did not sign up for email newsletters on products or check that I wanted any products to try. Everything is up to them to give me surveys and pay up or I am out of it. I am not wasting time on anything except valid surveys. I just need to find out which are real and which are spam material.

  16. If you’re being paid to take surveys, you can bet someone else is paying at least twice that amount for your data. Just don’t give them any personally identifiable information (like address, phone number, email) or secure information (like credit card numbers or your social security number). Any survey that can’t be completed anonymously is not a legitimate survey.

  17. Now in the a.m. TBS has one of the advertised. I checked and it is 7career(s).com that comes up with That site offers all sorts of jobs and ligitimate sites such as and, etc. are on that site. I was wrong about the site I mentioned I contacted for the Q&A. It was Not sure which of these sites I got it from and think it might be, although I can’t locate it today. I do have it bookmarked and can get to it. All the career or sites have encrypted properties. does not. Neither does I did fill out info for and it kept leading me to many other forms to fill out for various companies with nefarious names. What came out of this thus far were Pfizer and some online education, and I clicked on no for any information about education, mortgage, loans, reading material, financial advice, insurance, etc. So far, I have an email for products from Pfizer (facial, I am sure) and a call from some online education that I never heard about. Looks like I got myself into a bind with just one to fill out surveys only. I ignored all the $40K start your own business sites. I paid $34 for all the stuff on which has already led to two items I didn’t ask for (and I have not looked at my email today). I trusted this site and did give my credit card for payment of the $34, SS nbr for payment and all the other info. When I did Mystery Shopping I did the same thing but didn’t have to pay for anything. They paid me. And that was five years ago, at least. I should have known better because I had my identity stolen once by a car salesman who used my SS nbr to open credit card accounts and I didn’t know until two years later when he disappeared and stopped paying them. He had 27 charges against him and some were federal. I should know better. I have been so careful until I got desperate and that is who these sites are praying upon. Let that be a lesson to the rest of you. I will have to request copies of my credit reports in a month to see if anything happens to me.

  18. Oh, I never gave names of other people in any of these sites from SurveyScout. They just got my SS# and credit card. I have emailed them and told them that when I order credit reports next time, and see that my identity is stolen, I will know where to look. All so-called surveys that came into my email box want more information or they want to enter me in a “sweepstakes.” The company, itself, says that products are money, as well as sweepstakes. I told them only cash pays for overhead. There Q&A from Beverly was misleading. I contacted all and told them what I have said here and that they can take me off their list since I am placing them in my Norton AntiSpam Bin.

  19. Yeah Kate, you’re pretty much screwed. I really hope the worst doesn’t happen and you can recover unscathed. If you’re really worried you might want to go ahead and cancel that credit card number and ask for a new one.

  20. I can’t believe people are STILL falling for make money fast tricks! The truly desperate seem willing to ignore critical thinking.
    I thought everyone knew not to give your SSN to anyone, certainly not an anonymous entity on the internet.

  21. Thanks for the “Heads Up”, I thought it was too good to be true, More AMWAY JUNK &^%#@*
    Buyer Beware

  22. Look who owns the domains.,,, and more
    Prospect Performance, LLC
    Sam Guerra
    9901 E. Valley Ranch Pkwy Suite 2000
    Irving, TX 75063
    Phone: 972.830.9020

  23. Unbelieveably, you folks are helping good organization get even better. Imagine the power of the internet and your little community when just 5-10 people on a bulliten board can influence the privacy policy of a million dollar corporation and their national tv campaign. Go Ahead…Feel The Power.

    I’ve personally made over $60,000 working with Prospect Performance. Thier national television commercials are highly effective at bringing qualified, motivated folks from all walks of lives in our organization.

    Your statements and charachter assasinations are unresearched and possibly libelous.ProspectPerformance is one of the few legitimate home-based business operators in the industry. Yes they are highly visible and highly successful. They make a profit operating a free service. Everyone opts in. It’s legal as far as I can tell. And I make a ton of money working with them.

    Your suggestions on improving the home based business opporunity field are greatly valued. are highly appreciated.

  24. In response to Robert #26,

    Unbelieveably, you folks are helping good organization get even better. Imagine the power of the internet and your little community when just 5-10 people on a bulliten board can influence the privacy policy of a million dollar corporation and their national tv campaign. Go Ahead “Feel The Power”.

    Guerra was harvesting people’s personally identifiable information and selling it to other people without informing the original target where their data was going. That was a dirty underhanded stomach-turning thing to do, I called him on it, he changed it. I do indeed Feel The Power.

    I’ve personally made over $60,000 working with Prospect Performance. Thier national television commercials are highly effective at bringing qualified, motivated folks from all walks of lives in our organization.

    Good for you, I’m glad you’re successful in your business. Of course, I have to wonder just how much more successful your business might be if you offered something worthwhile through accepted channels rather than purchasing the private information of unsuspecting victims. I tend to suspect that those “qualified, motivated folks” are probably just desperate unemployed folks lacking in common sense.

    Your statements and charachter assasinations are unresearched and possibly libelous.ProspectPerformance is one of the few legitimate home-based business operators in the industry. Yes they are highly visible and highly successful. They make a profit operating a free service. Everyone opts in. It’s legal as far as I can tell. And I make a ton of money working with them.

    Nope, not libelous. These are my personal opinions, stated on a personal website. PP/Guerra makes a profit by harvesting information from one group of suckers and selling it to another group of suckers. Yes it’s legal, but it’s still sleazy (in my personal opinion, of course).

    At the time of this posting, there was no privacy policy available on the clone sites, and no statement of opt-in. People were submitting personally identifiable information with no idea where it was going or what they would be getting. That is not a qualified opt-in.

  25. I have seen the same ad as Dave up in comment 4. But get this, the page doesnt exist. Suckers wasting thier own money on advertising. :)
    Oh yeah, Im in California (Chico) and saw it on DirecTV at about 11:15 PM.

  26. It now has 2 new names and I just saw another one, boy they are desperate.

  27. The commercials are starting to pick up more in Phoenix, AZ. I’ve just seen 7moremoney, 8moremoney, and 4gain in the last week. Generally they run from 10pm-6am, mostly on comedy central and cartoon network it seems.

  28. Jusjust saw the start a career at home ad on Optimum cable here on Long Island, NY. using the site: www[dot]18gain[dot]com. 9:30 am 9/6/04.

  29. You can add 39work(dot)com to the list. I don’t
    understand why the FTC doesn’t get involved…doesn’t this
    violate the privacy act in some way?

  30. That’s another one I saw on Speed Network ( A friend and I saw it at around 11:00am in the morning.

  31. Haha, just a guy from Canada who hates MLM’s & scams. After seeing that very cheesy commercial, I had to take a look.

    I don’t see them doing anything illegal here, the privacy policy clearly states that you’re an idiot for sharing this information. Unfortunately, to most people the fact that they have a privacy policy will equal creditability, and they will fall for this.

    If anybody cares to read: www[dot]

    I read through it, here’s what I heard: Yes, we’re gathering up your information and selling it to the highest bidder. Not only will we sell your information, we will sell it to every vendor willing to pay, and use it ourselves for future spam. Should you realize what a horrible mistake you made and decide to opt out; the opt out will NOT take effect immediately, and we will not be responsible for all of the vendors whom we have already sold your information to.
    Also, this site is not secure, and we will not guarantee that your information won’t be stolen.

    Sounds like a great deal, I’m glad they’re sending my information package at

  32. FYI – the reason so many URL addresses are used is so Guerra can revenue share with the TV stations. These are nothing more than short format informercials. I would bet Guerro pays nothing for the airtime and splits the sucker revenue that comes in. That’s how infomercials work. TV stations give the time away when they have no paying advertisers.
    That’s why you see so many ads. The URLs are a means to track payments to the stations.

  33. I fell for it, I know, I’m an idiot., 9.95 for a free trial of their program which of course is the price of FEDEX, plus a hidden fee for 29.95 if you decide to keep the tapes they send, and if you don’t return them within 14 days that will be charged to your credit card.
    In my opinion what they want you to do is just keep the thing because it’s too much trouble to send it back. I’m going to send it COD so at least they will have to pay to get their material back.

  34. Ya – it’s a scam. Sadly it’s a front operation for people selling Herbalife. Nothing wrong with that other than TV advertising is against Herbalife policy.

    As far as Guerra goes, ya, I bet he is splitting the money with the people who are telling their organization to buy leads from PP. That’s the real gloom here – buying lads from PP is a part of the “system” these people use. It’s an Herbalife MLM deal – so people pretty much *have to*.

  35. Interesting… the Spokane BBB alert posted by Keith (#39) is clearly derived from my own article, some parts even duplicated word for word. Not that I mind really, I just find it amusing. If you’re the person who wrote that up on the BBB site and you come back to see this comment, drop me a line.

  36. jjJust a bit of thanks for all the info on the sleezy web site aka…1new future…I like many others are curious to the get rich quick schemes, but usually weary of them…I came upon your site first, before I even hooked up with the one mentioned…no need to look any further. Thank you again for all the time and effort you took to educate people on these “shoud be a law” websites”

  37. REPLY TO POST OF: Robert Cerny, Esq. 8/31/2004 @ 8:00 pm

    Oh my, a genuine, “Esquire”! Is this intended to draw in folks and make them “comfy and warm”, so possibly, just possibly a new “client” can be generated?

    “Unbelieveably, you folks are helping good organization get even better. Imagine the power of the internet and your little community when just 5-10 people on a bulliten board can influence the privacy policy of a million dollar corporation and their national tv campaign. Go Ahead “Feel The Power.”

    Why does “Go Ahead…. Feel The Power” have the sound of a scam line, well practiced and often utilized?

    “I’ve personally made over $60,000 working with Prospect Performance. Thier national television commercials are highly effective at bringing qualified, motivated folks from all walks of lives in our organization.”

    YOU have PERSONALLY made over $60,000 working with Prospect Performance. How many unsuspecting sould have been the tool used to generate that $60,000? How much did THEY make in return? How many were left with tired fingers from banging a computer keyboard all day long and receiving “ZIP” (a lousy product!) in return.

    Mr. Esquire, take a hike and may your journey be on a long rocky road.

  38. John, scroll up. Someone else already posted that BBB link, and I even commented on the fact that the article is cut-and-pasted from mine.

  39. these ads are running in las vegas, 7moremoney plays at night usually, from what i see, and i recently started see 5moremoney on tv as well. mostly see these running on tbs.

    i found another interesting site via google that mentions that the actor in the commercial saying his goal was to make $50k/mo next year is a guy who played casino security in Ocean’s 11 [the movie]. here:

  40. We continue to get spam from these jerks. This after my wife innocently answered with e-mail info. I’ve opted out at least 10 times, only to continue to get more crap from them. When I have responded to get more information, I’ve asked them to e-mail me at “heywoodjablome@(you name the domain)dot com”, and filled the blocks with toally bogus info. Last night I sent an e-mail telling them that further action would be taken if they continued to send me their drivel, Next time I think I’ll just send them a notice indicating that sending me their e-mail constitues an agreement by them to pay me $500 for every e-mail they send me. I know of a guy who did this with telemarketers, and won several thousand dollars in lawsuits. Maybe that’s the way to make your money and fire your boss- charge these dimtwits for sending their crapola!!!

  41. Mark (#46), are you getting spam from Prospect Performance, or from one of their customers? Either way, I suggest you report it via SpamCop to the ISP where the mail came from, as well as the Federal Trade Commission (fwd to Not that it’ll accomplish much immediately, but there’s some satisfaction to be had in taking some action against them.

  42. Hi,. I’m from New Orleans, LA, where these spam ads are becoming as epidimic as the common cold! I see these obviously fake advertisements almost every 20 minutes of television-watching. Anyways after doing some investigation, I have found the exact same thing that you all have, that it is an advertising scheme…

    What I did to test the scam was quite a long process…1st of all, the ads themselves:

    and so on… so I picked one, and used a proxy(can’t spam ur ip from a good proxy ;D). after putting in some false information I got to the 2nd part of the scam. This was where it was apparant that it was a scam…why would somebody who wants to help you get a home-based business try to get so much personally identifiable information(the answer is they aren’t trying to help at all)? From your Ip address and a cookie, they can get your basic location, and can personally track somebnody anonymously. It doesn’t, however, stop there. Today, one can easily get A phone #, Address, Status, Job, and tons of other personallyt identifiable information, just with a 1st and last name, and a Zip Code(if you don’t believe me, try it on Google, or put in your phone number with area code on google)! So after this I saw that it was a scam… The last part of my test: Giving them fake information that I could trace. Every time I did this I used a different proxy. The first time I gave them a fresh hotmail email address. Second I gave them a friend’s(we already had talked about doing this :P) phone number. Sure enough, after 2 weeks we were all eating spam for dinner :P. The e-mail address was flooded by messages offering various different products, and my poor friend almost started recording his voice saying ‘Take me off your calling list’ on his answering machine!

    My final outlook on this whole situation is that if these people could put cameras in your home legally, they would. They are(or he is, talking about the man in the commercials) hardcore spammers, just as bad as the people that create spyware and ptu it on unexpecting user’s computers. Don’t throw these dogs a bone…

    If you want to investigate further I suggest quite a few different things to protect your personal information
    1. Don’t even go to their site from your IP address, use a proxy – they are easily found on google :)
    2. NEVER EVER EVER give out your real information. Like I said earlier, almost every way that you can be contacted can be recieved from your phone number and google!
    3. I think 1 and 2 need repeating lol.

    If any good ever comes out of this scam, it would be that people would finally learn what to look for(and hey, you could always give them your enemy’s information and watch them get spammed! lol just kidding).


    By the way, to the webmaster of this site – you need to fix the aligning of the text on the webpage.

  43. Hmm yep the page is indeed borked, I just checked in IE. Seems to be something about my styling of blockquotes that IE/Win doesn’t like. I’ll have to work on it, thanks for the headsup.

    Anyway, thanks to everyone for the tremendous dialog on this. I continue to get lots of search traffic to this post, and I’m glad it seems to be appreciated. My little blurb here will be comment #50, and I think this is a good time to close the thread. If anyone has any further comments you’d like to share, feel free to email me through the contact page.

Comments are closed.