Some job seekers fall prey to phony placement service

Like many job hunters, Jim Sterns pored over the want ads for employment opportunities. He thought he found one in a listing for a warehouse job.

But after the Lee's Summit resident paid a $195 job-search fee — and despite the job "guarantee" he was promised over the phone — he found he was the victim of a phony job-placement company.

"Big old dummy, me. I did it," Sterns said. "I was out of work. I'd been looking for work since I moved to the area in January. There just weren't any jobs, so the 'guaranteed' got me."

Federal authorities say Sterns was sucked into a scam that charged job hunters across the country for access to jobs that never materialized.

The operation, Career Hotline Inc., misled consumers by promising $25,000-a-year jobs but not providing any, the Federal Trade Commission said Wednesday.

A U.S. District Court in Florida has halted the company's operations and frozen its assets.

Those actions came too late for Sterns, who paid the company in April after seeing a newspaper advertisement.

The FTC complaint against Career Hotline and its principal, Susan Bright of Seminole, Fla., was based on ads placed in newspapers around the country, including The Kansas City Star, and on

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