Ever since I wrote last summer about her unfortunate experience with Bankcard Empire, Audrey Lazarus of St. Louis Park has been diligent about keeping Whistleblower up to date with the latest news about the work-at-home company that took $10,000 of her money. Today, Lazarus let me know that the authorities have raided the telemarketing company's Arizona offices and arrested Leslie Mersky, a relative of Bankcard Empire president David Mersky, on charges of " forgery and fraudulent schemes and artifices."

The Arizona Republic reports that Postal Inspection Service spokeswoman Patricia Armstrong says her agency "had been looking into consumer complaints about Bankcard Empire for about a year before executing the warrants."

The business sold work-at-home opportunities that often required $5,000 to $10,000 up front and produced few returns, she said.

According to the Better Business Bureau of Central, Northern and Western Arizona, Bankcard Empire has operated in the Phoenix area since 2006. It has a BBB rating of F on a scale of A+ to F, with 391 complaints filed against the business.

Cheryl Clark of Milwaukie, Ore., said she paid Bankcard Empire and its affiliates more than $10,000 two years ago and has yet to receive anything back

"I was supposed to get that money back in a few months," she said. "But I've seen nothing."

Armstrong estimates there are thousands of people like Clark who have given money to Bankcard Empire thinking they would receive a steady income for little work.

"We're just now trying to get an idea of the scope of this," Armstrong said.


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