You may hear the advertisements on late night television, see it on Internet sites such as Craigslist, or read about it an unsolicited email for a chance to make thousands of dollars and pay off all your debt with very little effort.
The ads sound enticing as the claims of large earning potential with little expenditure is appealing to many workers looking to supplement their income or to outright increase their net-worth. The reality is these types of scams are designed to not make the worker well-off but to unjustly enrich the fraudster through this relatively simple scheme.
Examples of some common work-at-home scams include:
- Home Assembly and Crafting – While there are some legitimate opportunities to turn real craft skills into a home-based business consumers should be wary of any “opportunity” that promises what may seem to be unrealistic earnings projections and requires you to pay the promoter for all materials and kits to be assembled.
- Envelope Stuffing – This particular opportunity often requires consumers to purchase all of the supplies including envelopes, stamps or stamp meter, etc. Which may mean that thousands of envelopes must be stuffed just to break even.
- Mystery Shopping – Workers are recruited to shop on-line or at local stores and to prepare reviews. Often the first thing they are asked to “shop” is Western Union or MoneyGram. Most often workers are sent a check that must be deposited in a personal bank account and then wire-transfer most of that money to another person in order to "shop" the service. Workers are informed that they can keep a portion of the check as their fee. Unfortunately, the check is bogus causing the account to overdraw and leaving the worker responsible for the deficiency.
- Reshipping – Many scammers purport themselves as large multi-national companies recruiting people to re-ship products all over the world. Legitimate companies do not need to rely on individual shipping clerks working out of their homes. Workers accepting these opportunities are likely participating in an illegal theft or counterfeit enterprise, allowing the truly bad guys to hide behind worker addresses and identities as they ship stolen or counterfeit goods around the globe for them.
- Payment Processing – Similar to the reshipping scams, these payment processing or payment transfer scams have one or two objectives: get workers to participate in a theft/money laundering scheme or gain access to personal bank account and other information for identity theft. Like other work-at-home scams, payment-processing scams prey on the unemployed or consumers looking to make some quick money. The scammers advertise online or via e-mail for a part-time payment processor or an accounts payable manager based in the United States. Victims are required to have a personal bank account to “process” the company’s money, which arrives in the form of money orders or checks, and then wire a portion of the money to the foreign company.
Tips for Recognizing Work At Home Scam Offers:
- The offer and work are conducted entirely long-distance via e-mail or phone calls.
- The offer asks you to use your personal bank account or home address for processing shipments or payments.
- The offer promises large earnings with little up-front investment and minimal hours.
- The offer requires that you provide personal identifying or financial information.
- Offer involves receipt of a check for payment. The check is larger than expected and comes with a request to send any overages a third party typically via wire transfer, a money transmittal services, or prepaid credit cards.
Victims could find themselves out thousands of dollars when the money order or check bounces and they have already wired the money to their “employer.” If the check or money order does not bounce, victims could find themselves an unwitting participant in a money-laundering operation.
If you believe you have been victimized by a work-at-home scam or wish to report suspicious activity, please file a report here.