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Ten Bogus Work From Home Schemes to Avoid

1. Envelope Stuffing

Spend $20 to $50 and you’ll get a starter kit instructing you to mail flyers aimed at recruiting other people to stuff envelopes. You aren’t promoting a product or service—just getting people to accept the same offer. If they purchase the same kit, you get a commission. It won’t happen. Recruiting people to stuff envelopes is the oldest work-from-home gimmick. Don’t be fooled.

2. Email Processing

A modern-day version of the envelope stuffing con, for a fee you can become a “highly-paid” email processor working from home. Pay the fee and you get instructions on spamming the same ad you responded to in newsgroups and Web forums, with a promise of $25 for each ad accepted. No one accepts such ads.

3. Faux Data Entry

You’re offered access to companies supposedly looking to farm out basic data entry for an ad campaign—for an access fee. The work will never materialize.

4. “Just call” 1-900

Just remember: 1-900 numbers cost YOU money to call, which is how scammers get their money, by offering bogus work from home schemes. Once you’ve called, they’ve made their money—and you’ve lost yours.

5. Check Cashing

Scammers recruit “financial managers” or “representatives” or “sales managers” to cash checks (which are counterfeit) or deposit funds (which are stolen) for a small commission and then wire the money abroad, often to the scammers themselves. By the time the checks bounce, the money has already been sent. You are left holding the bag. If you’re asked for banking passwords or you hear the words “Western Union” mentioned, run for the hills.

6. Assembly Work

Avoid ads that say you can make “easy money” assembling items (usually crafts) from home. These cons usually require an upfront deposit for supplies, which never materialize. And even when they do, there’s no market for your “crafts.”

7. Medical Billing/Contract Typing

Most of these schemes promise hundreds, even thousands of dollars per week for processing insurance claims for doctors or typing for people who are too busy to do either. Both require you to pay upfront for materials and or “leads,” which turn out to be worthless.

8. Name Compiling

For a small (maybe $30) “registration fee” you are promised 50 cents for every name and address you send in. So you send in the money and give names and addresses of everyone you know. The scammers take your money—then contact every name you have given with the same scam. You get stiffed and your pals get spammed.

9. Mystery Shopping

In this scam, an official-sounding company promises to reimburse you for purchases during your mystery shopping rounds—once you pay a “registration fee” to find assignments in its (bogus) data base. Legitimate mystery shopping outfits never require a fee to search for companies requesting their services.

10. Companies Looking for “Homeworkers”

Pay a small fee for a list of companies who are supposedly looking for people (like you) who want to work from home. What you get is a generic, outdated list, some of which don’t want people who work from home, others who did—years ago. Don’t buy lists.

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  2. VTB

    Myself and my daughter got hit with this but fortunately my daughter disregarded hers and they had sent me a check which I tried cashing through a check cashing service and was told that is was a bogus check.

  3. I was sent two checks each in the amount of $2300 to cash, take 10% plus the cashing fees and fees to forward balance. I did not feel comfortable about cashing both checks so I only cashed one and withheld the amount required fees. Of course, the check bounced so now I have to come up with $2300 to cover the bounce check.

    These jobs are listed on Craigslist as p/t office help, bookkeeper, admin office help.

  4. Cocoa

    Yes, just recently I received a check in the mail for $12,000.00 with a note saying we know you are looking for a home-based opportunity to make extra cash to support your family; if you could deposit this check in your personal checking account and wire $8,000.00 of it to the enclosed individual via Western Union, and then we need you to buy downloadable software and a all in one printer copier scanner fax to use in future business opportunities with us…the rest of the money approx $1,800.00 is yours to keep. Upon you depositing this check you are under legal obligation to perform the duties noted within this letter. I deposited the check in my account, but my bank put a 10day hold on the check (thank GOD) because it never cleared and subsequently the funds were removed from my account without penalty or fees. I emailed the initial contact to inform them of what happened at the bank, and never got a response. This scam failed but I am glad it did…I learned all that glitters is not gold!

  5. Deb

    I enrolled on the website “Hits4Pay”. I was dumb enough to think someone would pay me to view ads….I gave them my Social and even signed a W-4 form…Yep…Just waiting for the fraud credit claims to start rolling in…As Jeff Foxworthy would say “Here’s your Sign”….

  6. Kathi G

    Basic rule of thumb. If they require you to pay a fee to work for them. Then it’s bogus. You shouldn’t have to pay an employer to work for them!

  7. Michelle

    This was listed in the Sunday newspaper as an ad for “Secret Shoppers”. The money is sent via FedExp in the form of a money order in advance of your shop. You are instructed to hold 20% for your fees and deposit the rest into your bank account. Once the money is deposited, they can trace all your personal bank info. They even had the nerve to follow up with a phone call to verify if I had received and deposited the money order? Like grandma used to say, “If it walks like a duck and quacks like a duck….” I submitted their information to the Better Business Bureau, the local authorities and the newspaper that ran the original ad with an email back to them letting them know what I had done. No phone or email contact since! Be careful, many people are vulnerable these days with how tight money has become!

  8. anonymous

    I sought payday loans that were supposed 2 b routed in2 the borrower’s bank acct. Needless 2 say, they TOOK $ funds that weren’t even there instead of lending me $. Thankfully, a dispute was sucesscul & I got most of my $ back & got a new acct.

  9. Cecile Bartlett

    I applied for parttime jobs on craigslist and after, a few emails I was recieved several bank checks then emails instructing me to cash and wire funds to different people.I also respond to an apartment listed on craigs list and without seeing the apartment they wanted me to wire money.
    They need to do more to stop these bogus scams. I know people who got arrested bank accounts depleted because of these scams.

  10. anonymous

    Mentioning check cashing, if u get a strange check, try 2 have yer bank investig8 2 c if it’s legit. If they can’t/won’t, just deposit the funds but don’t touch it til the check clears. If it comes back bad, the funds r still in yer acct ready 4 return.

  11. MV

    The article heading says “Ten Bogus Work From Home Schemes to Avoid” but the above article only give 5 work offers. What are the other 5?

  12. FS

    My husband applied for a job as a driver which we thought was legitimate. Now we owe Wells Fargo over $6,000 because it turned out to be a fraud and they won’t follow up with the scam. We were so desperate to find work because both of us are not working. You have to be so careful.

  13. You can find out if a check is legitimate by just calling the bank that the check is drawn on. All you need to say is if the check is legit and if it would clear. They will let you know if the check is legit and if it would clear. If it’s not legit, they will want a copy, and you should give the check to the Post Master in your town.

  14. Kelly O

    I would just add that a good rule of thumb is to not serve as an intermediary for checks, and to not pay anyone for something as requirements for work, especially online.

    You can never do too much research on your own. Believe me, I’m looking for ways to simply supplement our income from home and have not settled on anything yet because I want to do every tiny bit of due diligence possible to make sure it’s completely aboveboard.

    Unsolicited checks are a HUGE red flag – I got one several years ago and took everything I got to the police. Don’t get me wrong, for a moment there was the temptation to see if it was legit but in the end the odds were just too high that it was not.

    Don’t give up! Something legit is out there for you, it just may require more work.

  15. Tracy T

    I got nailed by the Western Union scam for $1600.00 initially but the final out come was $4000.00 in cash and the reposession of my car since I couldn’t recover from the scam. The worst of it all, they are STILL sending me emails, attempting to say that they have contacted the FBI and are in the process of trying to make it right. I have already turned in all the other fake money orders they sent to me to the fraud dept of my bank and I just hope that the information will help stop someone else from making the same mistake I made. I was just so desperate to make some money since the economy took a dump and the job sounded so legit. As the old saying goes, “If it sounds to good to be true, it probably is!” Take it to heart and watch out!

  16. AM

    So does anyone know of any legit work-at-home jobs out there off hand? Typing or data entry?

  17. I was on the CBS Atlanta News last October (2009). [ ] I woke up one morning with a check that was overnighted to me through FedEx. I had no idea why I (a college student) was receiving a check for $2500. So my mom called CBS to see who we should report it to. The investigative reporter decided to come to my house to do a story on it. It wasn’t until after he left and a day later that I realized it wasn’t just a random scam. I had posted to sell a textbook on Facebook Marketplace. I got a couple of replies that seemed weird. But I still replied to the emails. Eventually I got the typical “send money through Western Union to UK” line they always post and that’s when I realized it wasn’t legit. I replied to both of the scammers I had emails from saying I wasn’t interested in their offer and that I would continue to look for a prospective buyer for my textbook. Next thing I know I received this check and instructions in the mail. I emailed the address on the slip of instructions to see if I could get any information on why I was receiving this check (that’s what I was typing in the video). I received an email back with further instructions on what to do. A few days later I received an email from one of the scammers on my textbook with the same instructions of sending it to the same person. What they both wanted me to do was to cash/or deposit the check and take out the amount of money I wanted for my book plus shipping and then send the rest of the money to the person they listed in the emails. They specifically said to Western Union the money to a man in London, UK.

    **Tip to all**: Western Union is a great way to tell if it’s a scam. But there are other tells as well. If the wording of the emails/letters/internet ad seem off or like the person doesn’t know english very well. Also, almost always they will want you to send the money (whether through western union or fedex etc) to some place in europe, or basically out of the country.

    Luckily I didn’t fall for this scam, but hopefully this experience will help you in determining whether the job ad or posting on anything is legit or a scam! Be smart and look for all the tells.

  18. Madelyn

    I’m embarased to admid it,but this has happend to me. I one day got an e-mail to work from home for a travel agency to cash the checks the clients sent and send it to the company, in Russia, that should of been my tip off right there. I was always suppisius but they sent me the web addres for the agency and everything, KITRAVE.COM, and the agency seems to be real and the wesite is still up. Anyways i decided to try it, and i got jacked $2,776.00 a week later i was short that amount on my bank account. Thank god for my smart husband that told me if they sent me another check to go to Amscot instead, so i did, and that’s how i found everything out. I would love to work at home, but now i’m truely scared and i don’t know who or which of those “work from home” adds to trust.

  19. Khatikali

    I have received job offers from scam artists from London. The job description entailed my collecting money from their clients in the US that they sold furniture to. They even gave me a website which I explored and, yes, they had a website full of beautiful furniture. I went to the website just to pass time because I already knew what my reply would be. I replied and told them that it is very baffling to me why the clients can’t send the scammers the money themselves, using all the legitimate channel that they had asked me to use. The clients would pay me in checks and I will cash it and keep my share of 10% and send them 90%. My thoughts were: they are so cheap too. I’ll do all the work and keep ONLY 10%? I’ve received several check cashing jobs. The checks look real with bank logos. Thank God for the Internet because, even though there are several bad things going on online, it is also a great research tool. I researched the banks that the checks were drawn on and the banks were legitimate. When I examined the logos on the checks and that of the banks’ logos I noticed slight differences. Also, the language scammers use is threatening with poor semantics. Listen up everyone, to these rules of thumb.
    1. Stay away from the check cashing fraud.
    2. Delete all email wherein the sender addresses his or herself and “Mr. or Mrs.’ Or addresses the recipient as “My dear beloved.’ The content of the email could range from ‘my husband died and left me a large some of money’ or lying that they have cancer etc, etc, etc.
    3. TOTALLY avoid dealing with Nigerian, Asian and London job offers scams.
    4. Do not pay any person to get a job including the self proclaimed experts who will teach you all the tips and tricks under the sun to succeed. Have you noticed that every one is now an expert in marketing. Ask your self this question, what does the expert stand to benefit. Keep this in mind always; “A FOOL AND HIS/HER MONEY ARE EASILY PARTED.” Don’t pay for e-books.
    5. Run with the speed of a lightning when you read words like ‘tips and tricks,’ ‘secrets,’ ‘system,’ or ‘pre-launch program.’
    A Nigerian scam led to the shooting death of a preacher by his wife because he used their savings on the scam. I have replied to some Nigerian scams where I have disclosed that I am from a neighboring country in Africa and that we all know that they are liars and thieves. A truthful Nigerian is a dead one. Working as a banker, the instruction to us the employees, was not to open a bank account for Nigerian individuals.

    6. Lastly, if any offer looks to good to be true IT IS not probably.

  20. CSJ

    We had a gal at work that recv’d a refund check. She didn’t remember sending in or trading something off to get a refund. It was over $500. We worked in a bank processing center. Our boss looked up the routing number on the check, and it didn’t come back to anything. She had the office mgr check it out and the letter and said just to hold it or take it to her own bank, which referred her to the police. It was a scam.

  21. LHG

    Those of you who responded to the check cashing scheme, did you ever stop to think that maybe you were sending money to terrorists.

  22. Donna

    I had received two different offers to take check to Walmart and purchase a Western Union money orders after taking out my portion. Something said to verify the accounts, I called the banks that the checks were drawn on and game them every information off of the check I could. After checking out fromthe banks they were both bogus accounts. I made copies of these checks and mailed them to the banks for their records. I went to the police depatment after receiving the second one. An officer came and talked to me, but he acted very indifferent and did not ask for copies of anything. That was when I decided to just hang on to them for safe keeping and keep an eye out for any other tocome in the mail.

    Lately, I feel I had gottten scammed from a recent ad on website for someone looking for office help with the ability of working at home. After several emails back and forth my email account was compromised. I was informed that someone from Brazil and Venazuela had hacked my email account on a mobile phone. Luckily I was told about it quickly and was able to get help in correcting this but I think of all the people like myself who are looking for a legit job even if it is something to be able to do at home, or the elderly and we are getting scammed my anyone out there, including lifetime prisoners. Somehow it needs to stop. There are enough get rich scams out there with out all of this other stuff. I know there are legit work at homes jobs out there, but after while you just get frustrated and want to give up.

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