The idea of working from home for a living certainly sounds better than the typical 9-to-5, but unfortunately it’s a hook many scammers are using and the bait is finding itself out of money, and in one case, in jail.
Reports of scams involving work-from-home offers ranked 13th last year, as reported to the Federal Trade Commission, but rose slightly over the amount of scams reported in 2006. Some common schemes involve the so-called employee receiving, sending and forwarding packages, medical billing jobs and mystery shopper jobs.
These offers typically arrive in the form of unsolicited emails or suspicious posts on message boards and typically offer great pay for seemingly no work at all. Victims of these offers have typically been people looking for extra cash to supplement their income (who does that exclude, really?), disabled people or spouses looking to help the family’s bottom line.
A Better Business Bureau spokesperson interviewed by MSNBC says, “As the demand for at home employment increases, so too will the schemes.”
In Pennsylvania, the Attorney General is investigating the mystery shopper scheme, which typically finds its way into your Inbox. What better way to earn money than to fake shop looking for poor customer service? Sadly, the scam involves a company sending you a bogus check which a portion you must return to the company, then pay full price for when the person who cashed it realizes it’s a phony.
A Georgia man ended up facing charges of receiving stolen property after he signed up for a package forwarding scheme looking to supplement his state income because of rising fuel prices.
And an Ohio woman who could no longer work in an office setting because of health reasons made the investment of a fax and printer for her alleged, new medical billing job but ended up out of a $195 deposit to get the job (which should set off an alarm already), the cost of the printer and fax, and no job.
Consumer advocates, members of law enforcement and the federal government all say with economic conditions worsening, the idea of extra income through a work-at-home job may sound enticing, but few offers are often legitimate.