Spotting Work at Home Scams

Spotting Work at Home Scams

Where to Start

It would be wonderful if I could honestly tell you that I had not fallen victim to a work at home scam myself, but that would be untrue. When I was very desperate to find a job where I could make money from home I lost money in a couple of different work at home schemes which caused us both a small financial loss as well as being a disappointment that rather than making money for our family, I was losing money.

There is a variety of work at home scams that are listed on papers, sent to you through email, and posted on job boards. They claim that you can earn hundreds of dollars a day doing simple things like stuffing envelopes or data entry. Let’s face it folks, if it sounds too good to be true, you better believe it is.

Here are just a few of the scenarios you may run across and be tempted, in a moment of weakness, to respond to:

Nigerian Money Email

I have received emails and faxes for this scam countless times. The Better Business Bureau reports that this scam has been around for ages, however, with the dawn of email it has taken on a whole new life. The fund fraud transfers scams can come to you through email, fax, or even by personal mail. The sender, who claims to be a government official or member of a royal family, requests assistance in transferring millions of dollars of excess money out of Nigeria and promises to pay the person for his or her help. The message is always of an urgent, private nature. Although the country primarily listed is Nigeria, I have seen other countries listed with the same urgent news.

Those willing to assist are asked to provide their banking account number, Social Security number, birth date, and often times other personal information. Or they are asked to send money to the letter-sender for taxes and various fees. Victims will never see their money again and the con artist pockets the money.

You may think that there is no way that people could fall for such a ridiculous scam, but the FBI reports annual losses of millions of dollars to just these types of schemes. In fact, some victims have actually been lured to Nigeria, where they were imprisoned or much worse.

If you should receive an email of this nature, forward it to [email protected], then immediately delete the correspondence. If you have already, however, responded to this scam or know someone who has, please contact the U.S. Secret Service as soon as possible by phone (202.406.5572).

Assembly Work

This type of scheme is where you send a company money to send you supplies to put together different types of crafts, bows, or other type of small project. You send hundreds of dollars to the company for supplies who have claimed they will pay you “x” amount of dollars if you put the items together as instructed. You will invest hours of your time into putting these crafts together only to have the company tell you that you did not meet the “standards” for the work that they have sent. They will then send the materials back to you which you will be stuck with items and you will also be out a bunch of your own money which you had invested.

UPS & Federal Express Recovery

This is a scam that I have personally been victim to and spent $69 of our money only to discover that I was stuck with software that I could not use. Stupidly, when I think of a name such as UPS or Federal Express I automatically think that this has to be legitimate, right? Wrong!

The claim with this software is that companies that send out large amounts of shipments through Federal Express or UPS do not have the time to track these packages. If the packages are even one minute late with delivery, you are entitled to a full refund. With these “amazing” software packages, you will now be able to track all these parcels for the companies. You simply call on behalf of your clientele and they will get fifty percent of the refund while you pocked the other fifty percent. These people will agree to this because this is money that they wouldn’t have had otherwise. You can make $50-75 an hour and download the list of the packages while you are sitting in your robe and sipping your coffee. Doesn’t that sound wonderful?

First of all, neither Federal Express nor UPS is affiliated with any of these software programs. They also have every right to refuse the refund to you, a third-party who did not pay for the shipping in the first place. UPS online tracking system can only be used by the sender of the package or by the recipient. Besides, information obtained through the tracking system can only be used to monitor one’s shipment and not for someone’s commercial gain unless UPS openly authorizes it. To top it off, UPS prohibits any uses of automated software to access its online shipping-related systems. Therefore, the software you would be using would be deemed illegal.

I guess I had been under the assumption that they would be providing a list of people to contact that would be interested in these services. What they did provide was a list of general types of companies to target like the health industry, industrial services, or retail companies. Through this list you are supposed to come up with a list of people you think would be interested in your services, try to obtain the name and email address of the correct person who should be targeted, and send them this letter that the company has so kindly supplied for you. Then you just sit back and watch people chomping at the bit to get this amazing service. Who in the world would ever give out any of this private tracking information on their packages to a complete stranger? The answer to that, of course, would be no one in their right mind.

Envelope Stuffing

This is also a very old scam, however, people continue to fall for it. This scam informs you that you can earn hundreds of dollars by simply stuffing envelopes for companies. What you end up doing is paying someone to get information about stuffing envelopes and instead you get information on how to place the same advertisement for other people to become suckered in just as you have. Today everything is so automated that there is no reason that a company would outsource for envelope stuffing.

Data Entry

This is another scam that I fell head over heels for when searching for a work at home job. I saw an advertisement for a position doing data entry. All I needed to do was pay ten dollars for my “training packet” and they would send to me all of my training materials. For this particular company, I emailed the person in charge to request more information. The person that emailed me back seemed so sweet and told me how much money she was making doing this, sent me an application, (here was the clincher for me) signed it “God Bless.” Well, I figured this woman had a little God in her life so she wouldn’t be scamming me….right? Wrong again! Upon filling out my application I received within two seconds an email explaining that all I had to do was send the same advertisement out to other unsuspecting people along with an application for employment, review the application (for what reason, I do not know) and send them the congratulatory letter that there employment has been approved. I would then get half of the money and the other half would go to the person who recruited me. Believe me when I say that I got my money back for these training materials. I will explain more on what to do if you become a victim at the end of this article and how to try to salvage your money.

Medical Transcriptions

There are tons of phony advertisements out there for this job. While knowing medical transcription is great in a traditional work place, unless you personally know the company and they check out with the Better Business Bureau, be very wary of these types of job listings. The typical scenario usually plays out with the company telling you that you can make hundreds of dollars working from home and all you will need is the CD Rom which will have everything you need to know about medical transcription and at the end of their course you will officially be certified and people will be dying to hire you because of your qualifications. After purchasing your software and the computer system needed in order to link with the central computer system for “training purposes” you will have spent thousands of dollars with absolutely little or nothing to show for it. There will be no job and no clients with an amazing certification from Jon Doe’s Medical Transcription Online Schooling Company and you will have wasted both your time and money into yet another fruitless cause.

Tips for Spotting a Scam

These are just a few of the many scams that you will find on the internet and could become a potential victim to. These advertisers are looking for desperate people especially stay-at-home moms who are dying to continue staying home with their children or are in a difficult financial position. It is important for you to be an informed mother and know what to look for in a work-at-home scheme. Here are a few red flags that should help make a work-at-home scam more apparent:

  • The advertiser is using ALL CAPITAL LETTERS with lots of exclamation points!!!!!!!!!!!!!! IT WOULD LOOK SOMETHING LIKE THIS!!!!!!!!! AREN’T YOU LUCKY TO BE SCAMMED????
  • They claim that you can make hundreds or thousands of dollars a day with no experience needed and minimal effort is needed in order to achieve this financial miracle.
  • There is a fee in order for you to apply. This fee is for training materials, a membership into a work-at-home club or for a transaction fee and it is an obscure company that you have never heard of. If there is a fee involved, chances are that you are being scammed. If you are applying for jobs in your neighborhood you are not charged transaction fees in order to submit your resume to a job so you shouldn’t be charged for one for a work-at-home job.
  • The advertisement lists no company or any information that you can check into. They don’t give you any contact information other than a first name and a number where you can leave a message. A job listing shouldn’t be a mysterious advertisement unless there is something to hide. Be very leery of these types of advertisements.
  • Look the company up on the Better Business Bureau’s web site. If they do not check out on this web site, chances are that this company is trying to scam you. The Better Business Bureau is a wonderful tool for you if you are trying to spot a scam. Their web site is full of helpful information and tips along with consumer alerts on new scams that are taking place.

What to Do if You’ve Been Scammed

Okay, so you are asking, “What if I have already been scammed?” How do I get my money back and who do I report the scam to. As I said before, I had been victim to the “data entry” position and so when I found out that instead of doing data entry I was typing the same dirty little ads out to other unsuspecting victims, I simply sent the company an email and asked for an immediate refund. I received an email back stating that I should have known what I was getting myself into and that they were sorry, but they wouldn’t be refunding my money. That is when I looked on the Better Business Bureau’s web site to find out how they suggested I get my money back. There web site states the following:

If you become a victim of a work-at-home scheme, ask the company for a refund. If they refuse or give you an evasive response, tell them you plan to notify law enforcement officials.

Keep careful records of everything you do to recover your money. Document your phone calls, keep copies of all paperwork such as letters and receipts, and record all costs involved, including the time you spend. If the company refuses to refund your investment, contact:

All it took for me to have my money refunded was to tell the company that I was planning to contact law enforcement. Hopefully, if you are victim of a scam you will not have to go through these steps, but it is good information to have just in case. Please see my Work-At-Home Ideas to give you more ways to make money from home.

Published June 09, 2004 by:

Amy Allen Clark is the founder of You can read all about her here.

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