The virtual office is a fast and inexpensive way to impress clients. The problem is, legitimate business owners are not the only ones taking advantage of the service.
On the outside, it is an impressive office building. On the inside, it is a professionally run, flexible-lease office space.
"We're a good way for companies to keep their costs low and have a great presence with low overhead," said JenniferWilliams of
Your Office USA
Your Office USA, and other companies like it, rent out office space by the year, by the month, or for $15 an hour.
"We have investment brokers. We have a lot of attorneys. We have some software companies. We have some startups," Williams said.
In addition to an office, phone, and Internet connection, customers can use office equipment, meeting rooms, multimedia technology, and secretarial support. The receptionist will answer the phone any way the customer wants.
The setup works great for a Raleigh software startup.
"We didn't want to outlay all of the expenses of setting up a new office space. It was just very cost effective for our company," said Allison Blakebrough of Trinity Convergence.
Angela Ursprung runs Triangle Home-Fit Spa out of her home. She said that sometimes she needs a more professional location to do business.
"When I do have interviews with potential personal trainers and that sort of thing, they come into this building and see this office and they're impressed," she said.
Your Office USA is a legitimate office-space provider that offers an impressive front for small businesses. However, police worry that just by its temporary nature, businesses like it also offer a front for fly-by-night con men.
A Raleigh woman said that
, who has several aliases, used a similar temporary office setting to swindle her out of cash and then disappear.
Williams said that Your Office USA requires a picture identification card and occasionally does background checks on renters.
She said that the service is important for businesses wanting to make a good impression.
"It really brings together the presence of being a large business when it's just one person behind the scenes. So, we can help out with that image," Williams said.
Virtual office space can serve both good and bad intentions. Police point out that a vast majority of business people who use virtual offices are legitimate.
As a result of recent cases, police have urged office space providers to take greater care in choosing renters.