A new wave of scam artist has emerged as millions hunt for the perfect home-based income. Years ago work at home scams were confined to small ads on the back page of the local newspaper. Stuffing envelopes, assembling jewelry, building toys, selling miracle elixirs— these were some of the traditional schemes marketed to those looking to earn a living without leaving home. However, with the Internet boom scam artists have begun to use more sophisticated ploys. Email scanning, rebate processing, mystery shopping, build-a-website, check cashing and payment reconciliation are some of the new suspicious categories. These types of offers are usually fraudulent.
How to spot scams
Most illicit job offers will promise exorbitant income and ask for some type of investment upfront. Lola Parker, a stay-at-home mom and recent job scam victim, says she thought the proposal sounded too good to be true, but she was desperate to augment her income from babysitting and took a chance. “The company said I could make $400 a week processing payments. All I had to do was send in $75 for a start-up kit, certification code and policy manual,” Lola added regretfully. “I was assured that the money would begin to pour in as soon as I got set up.”
Lola did receive something for her $75. Her package included a two-page brochure of vague instructions for using a computer, a list of companies that may need assistance processing payments and a 15-digit code marked ‘USE THIS CODE WHEN TRANSACTING ALL BUSINESS’. Lola was devastated. Her attempts to contact the company were useless. She realized her position of desperation had made her easy prey for the age-old double cross.
Tips to identify authentic opportunities
The Federal Trade Commission has responded to the tremendous increase in this type of activity by establishing Project False Hope. The mission of this unit is to investigate reports of fraud in connection with deceptive money making schemes and prosecute the offenders.
Consumers are advised to beware of any company that requires money upfront for any reason whether it is for training, start-up materials, certification, leads or website access. Also, skip those websites that require a fee to search their job listings. These sites do not have any exclusivity when it comes to job postings. Although the offers sound enticing, most legitimate employers use all resources available to find qualified applicants.
There are many work-at-home opportunities that are genuine. You can avoid becoming a victim of fly-by-night scam artists by checking with the Better Business Bureau for information on the company. Using reputable job sites such as Spark Hire will also reduce your chances of being swindled.