With more people looking for work online, some offering work opportunities at home are blurring the line between pyramid or Ponzi schemes and functional multilevel marketing programs. One key difference to keep in mind is that pyramid schemes are illegal in almost every state and if you get suckered into one, you can be found guilty of violating Federal Trade Commission laws.

As the number of people looking for online work increases so do the number of pyramid offers, often thinly disguised as multilevel marketing. If you have the slightest hint that something about an offer does not feel right, walk away from it. Better yet, run from it as fast as you can and do not leave any of your cash behind. The internet is an amazing place and new web sites pop up daily.

One of the challenges of web sites is that they typically require no proof of identification and setting up an online business can be done in only a few minutes with no questions asked. A person can set up an internet site, spend a few bucks on advertising and reel in a lot of cash in a hurry with false promises and then disappear into cyberspace with nary a trace. The trick to not buying into one of these schemes is knowing what they look like.

Some may even come right out and claim they are not an illegal pyramid scheme while others will not mention it at all. There are three key elements to look for in making the decision of whether a plan is legal or not. First, if there is no mention of what product or service is being sold in the first one, maybe two pages of their online sales pitch, it probably is not worth pursuing. Contact information for the company should be blatantly visible on the front page or at least on a contact page. If there is no name, address or phone number available, the company is hiding behind an email address and everyone knows how reliable email contacts are at solving customer problems.

The third thing to look for is the focus of the sales pitch. If it talks about how much money that can be made by recruiting other dealers, promising to pay you an unrealistic amount for bringing others into the fold, then it is probably more of a pyramid scheme than a legitimate business opportunity. If you have to buy the companys product in order to remain a qualified distributor, you may soon find that the only sales the company realizes is to their distributors, which is also against FTC rules.

An honest business opportunity will tell you upfront what you will be selling and while you may invite distributors to join in your business success, it should not be mandatory to sign up even one additional person in order to receive sales commissions from your own sales efforts.