Here's an article for the East coast shark patrol.
Washington Post July 5, 2001
Word on the Street: County Targets Ads Byline: Kenneth Bredemeier Washington Post Staff Writer Edition: FINAL Section: Virginia Extra You're sitting in traffic at a red light, glad to be on your way home from another arduous day at the office. Your job is okay, but, well, there are some days you just wonder whether it's really what you want in the long haul.
And then, as you look out your window, a sign on a telephone pole catches your eye: "Work From Home. $1,500/mo part-time. $5,000/mo full-time."
Or "Own a computer? Put it to Work. $25-$75/hr. PT/FT."
So you quickly jot down the telephone numbers on the signs as the light changes. And while you're skeptical about any commercial come-on, as you drive away, you wonder: "Just what are those signs pitching? Gee, could I really make some extra cash or even quit my job?"
The Washington Post called several of the numbers listed on signs throughout Fairfax County and found there's a good chance that weight-loss or work-from-home pitches are from a local distributor for Herbalife International, a California-based marketer of nutrition supplements that some adherents say have helped them lose pound after pound of unwanted fat.
Some medical experts are equally convinced that the supplements have caused severe health side effects.
Along busy Fairfax thoroughfares, there are signs advertising carwashes, World War I memorabilia, pet care, computers, house repairs, gutter cleaning, mulch and assorted other products and services. The signs are stapled, nailed or taped to utility poles and even traffic signs on median strips. On garage sale weekends and during political campaigns, the signs are everywhere.
Most of them are also illegal -- and of increasing concern to some residents and government officials.
Fairfax County has created a sign task force that is supposed to make recommendations to the Board of Supervisors later this year on how the law could be better enforced.
Fairfax City officials recently reminded residents that yard sale, real estate and election signs may only be put up on private property.
"It's too bad these stop-sign posts can't be made of metal or coated with something like axle grease to discourage posters," said Gary S. Hedges, a Fairfax resident. "I sympathize with their economic challenges, but that doesn't give them license to trash up our neighborhoods with their advertising."
For One Business, a Crucial Tool
Most ubiquitous are the signs offering a chance to work at home or to lose weight. Often, these signs are posted by Herbalife distributors selling various dietary supplements that the company says will help users lose weight or achieve some other personal health goal.
The distributors said they look for others to sell the company's products because they then collect part of their recruits' sales commissions on top of their own in a pyramiding pay system.
But sometimes, callers who dial the numbers on the roadside signs are left clueless as to the identity of the company offering work even after listening to its pitch about working from home and becoming financially independent.
Take the case of one sign that says "Work From Home. 800-925-7145. $1,500/mo part-time, $5,000/mo full-time. Mail Order."
"Thank you for calling the business that's helping more people earn over $5,000 per month working right from their home than any other company in the world," a pleasant-sounding woman tells callers on a recording. "We need help in your area."
The tape goes on to ask callers to leave a phone number and address so a booklet further explaining the business can be sent to them.
"We need you to be serious and read it and give us a ring back and let us know whether you want to work with us," the tape says. "This is your first step in changing your life financially just like we did. We look forward to working with you and training you and you have a wonderful day. Bye bye!"
A man who calls back a day later declines to be identified by name, but says he is working for Herbalife and has two 800 numbers and one 888 number posted on road signs.
"I've only been doing this two months," he said. "The first month I didn't know what the hell I was doing, but now I'm flabbergasted in terms of the response -- 20, 30, 40 calls a day."
He said he mails out a 14-page promotional booklet about working from home that still does not mention Herbalife by name.
But if would-be work-from-home employees want to proceed, "you pay $45 for an information packet. We set up an appointment with an existing representative. If you want to become a distributor, you pay $299 for that.
"The reason for the $45 packet is to weed out people who aren't serious, " he said. "It's not a scam. You don't want to get people who don't want to work for you."
He said he is excited about his prospects for selling Herbalife products.
"I'll really start making huge money when my recruits recruit more, " he said.
A Fairfax woman said she started working for Herbalife after getting fired from her job as an office manager at a Tysons Corner firm. She said she lost 20 pounds taking the Herbalife nutritional supplements and has attracted more customers by wearing a button that says: "I lost weight. Ask me how."
The 33-year-old woman, who also declined to be identified, said she had posted 25 signs along roadways.
"My phone rings off the hook," she said. "The majority of the people are so excited. A couple were opposed , but I've had 27 calls in the last two days that are interested in working the business. I invite them to a meeting, invite them over for lunch."
She said she made $50,000 at the job she lost and, while she has only sold Herbalife products for five weeks, is already earning a salary "at a rate higher than that."
"It's the greatest. You interested?" she asked a reporter.
Warnings May Precede Fines
While the roadside pitches may be proving profitable for the Herbalife sales force and others, posting the signs in the highway rights of way is illegal in Virginia.
Not that anyone is doing much about it.
Under Virginia law, posting signs on utility poles, road signs and other fixtures in the rights of way is punishable by a $100 fine per sign, plus the cost of removal. But neither the state nor Fairfax County has budgeted any money for sign-removal crews, and no one can remember anyone being prosecuted for posting a sign.
"They're illegal," said Joan Morris, a spokeswoman for the Virginia Department of Transportation. "Signs on the right of way, we consider them litter. But we don't have the people or the money to remove every sign that we see.
"So what we have to concentrate on is getting any sign down that obstructs a motorist's driving vision on the roadway," Morris said. "Something posted on a stop sign obviously we're going to rip right down."
She said that "as crews are doing other work, filling potholes or repairing guard rails, they will routinely pick things up that are obstructing or are eyesores."
Virginia residents who participate in the agency's Adopt a Highway program not only pick up litter but also rip down signs on their four-times- a-year patrols of two-mile stretches of roads, Morris said.
County officials have received enough complaints about the vast number of signs posted along roadways that the Board of Supervisors appointed the task force.
The county does not have the authority to enforce the state law, but as long ago as 1978 the county asked the state for power to take down the signs and that limited right was granted.
But county spokeswoman Merni Fitzgerald said road crews only "pretty infrequently" take down the roadway signs, usually after a citizen complaint about their proliferation or at the request of a county supervisor. Moreover, she said, the signs often are replaced as soon as the previous ones are removed.
"By the next day you can't tell we've done anything," she said. " Our efforts at this point are less than effective. It's recognized as a problem countywide."
Dave Conway, a task force member from the Mason District, said the panel is trying to be fair to businesses such as Herbalife while carrying out the law.
"We must give these business owners a fair chance to remove these illegal signs before enforcement begins," he said. "For future violations, the county must consider whether to issue a warning on an individual basis and encourage violators to remove their own signs or have the county immediately remove the signs and assess fines."
Meantime, some residents are finding humor among the clutter.
Spotted at a busy Tysons Corner intersection was this sign: "I lost 40 pounds while waiting for this damn light to change."
#1. "RE: Washington Post Article" In response to Reply # 0
Thanks for posting this. I can't resist making a few cheap potshots comments:
>A man who calls back a day later declines to be >identified by name, but says he is working for Herbalife >and has two 800 numbers and one 888 number posted >on road signs. > >"I've only been doing this two months," he said. "The first >month I didn't know what the hell I was doing, >but now I'm flabbergasted in terms of the response -- >20, 30, 40 calls a day."
I wonder if this guy was telling the truth. It'd be easy for him to exaggerate (or just plain make something up) just so his work-from-home business would look good.
>He said he mails out a >14-page promotional booklet about working >from home that still does >not mention Herbalife by name. > > >But if would-be work-from-home employees want to proceed, "you pay $45 >for an information packet. We set up an appointment with >an existing representative. If you want to become a distributor, >you pay $299 for that.
I'm surprised that he'd admit this much.
>"The reason for the $45 packet is to weed out people >who aren't serious, " he said. "It's not a scam. >You don't want to get people who don't want to >work for you."
That's funny. I've never had to pay a fee to any potential employer to prove that I'm serious about working for them. In fact, many have bought me lunch during the interview process. One even flew me down to Dallas.
>He said he is excited about his prospects for selling Herbalife products.
Well, of course he's going to tell the newspaper that. If he said something to the effect of, "I've been at this for four months and I've only received six calls," he'd get sued by his upline.
>"I'll really start making huge money when my recruits recruit more, " he said.
And that's exactly how a pyramid scheme works. He doesn't even say anything about the product.
>A Fairfax woman said she started >working for Herbalife after getting >fired from her job as >an office manager at a >Tysons Corner firm. She said >she lost 20 pounds taking >the Herbalife nutritional supplements and >has attracted more customers by >wearing a button that says: >"I lost weight. Ask me how." > >The 33-year-old woman, who also declined to be identified, said she >had posted 25 signs along roadways. > >"My phone rings off the hook," she said. "The majority of >the people are so excited. A couple were opposed >Herbalife], but I've had 27 calls in the last two >days that are interested in working the business. I invite >them to a meeting, invite them over for lunch."
"I try to brainwash them using the same tactics that my upline used on me. I also inflate my sales figures for them like I'm doing for this newspaper."
>She said she made $50,000 at the job she lost and, >while she has only sold Herbalife products for five weeks, >is already earning a salary "at a rate higher than that."
Yeah, I'll bet she is.
>"It's the greatest. You interested?" she asked a reporter.
"No thanks. Your product has to be overpriced if you're making that much money."
#3. "RE: Washington Post Article" In response to Reply # 2
I'm not sure I fully understand your question. But if you're referring to the vast amount of "Work-At-Home" signs being posted, then I think you'll find these folks work in "cells" through out a given area.
It would appear the theory is to "overlap" given areas or territories inorder to motivate others in that given area to place more signs.
Watch the actions on how the signs are posted. Those areas in and around plus high volume traffic roads leading up to large apartment complexes are tageted most.
I don't think you're going to find large concentrations of these signs in and around the $300,000 range homes nor areas where there are a lot of upper end autos, ie., Mercedes, Volvos, Lexus.
That's the trend in our area. Another thing, the spammers know all to well, if they're spotted in those neighborhoods in the middle of the night, they stand the chance of being shaken down by the local PD's and taken in for questioning.
#4. "RE: Washington Post Article" In response to Reply # 2
LAST EDITED ON 12-05-01 AT 01:00 PM (CST)
>My question is why working at home seems to involve so much driving around and nailing signs into the ground. >I just don't get it... >
Obvious that the poor dumb MLMers don't see the paradox, either.
But how stupid is anyone who is taken in by this MLM smoke & mirrors, anyway? Just look at the dopey URLs the spammers pick for their signs, and anyone with an IQ higher than their age would be skeptical, I'd think.
#5. "RE: Washington Post Article" In response to Reply # 4
>Here are some new signs: > >WORK FROM YOUR CAR AT MIDNIGHT > >LOSE $500-2000 / MONTH >www.losebigcash.com > >LOSE MONEY NOW >ASK ME HOW >1-888-DROPBUX > >SCAM FROM HOME >MAIL FRAUD / INTERNET >www.sendmeyourmoney.com
Sorry, but these url's have already been registered by none other than Bubba Dump; Rte BR549, Possum Trot Holler, KY.