Work-from-Home Scams

Work-from-Home Scams Generally Fall into Five Categories

Mothers with small children. Retirees. The physically challenged. Students. People looking for a second job they can do from home in the  evenings. These are the preferred targets of work-from-home scams. 

Typically, the operators of work-from-home scams initiate contact with their intended victims by email. But there are at least 300 around the world who actually maintain their own websites. Most of these scams generally fall into one of five categories:

  1. Upfront payments
  2. Money laundering
  3. Reshipping
  4. Man-in-the-middle scams
  5. Pyramid schemes

Advance Fee Scams

Upfront payment scams promise employment to jobseekers in exchange for a commodity that is required for the position. The victim then pays for the commodity and one of several scenarios occurs:

  • Neither the commodity nor the job ever arrives
  • A real commodity arrives and the work exists but you cannot be hired
  • A fake commodity arrives and the job is fake

Whatever the scenario, these jobseekers have spent hard-earned savings to obtain the commodity. They will never see it back and will not find gainful employment as a result. 

For example, the scammer may tell you that you first have to enroll in an internet-based preparatory course.  It will cost a few hundred dollars. But once you successfully complete the program you’ll get a job doing who knows what from home. So you pay using a credit or debit card and wait, but there’s no course. Nor is there any job. Apart from losing your money you inadvertently provided your credit or debit card number to the scammer. Of course, he knows what to do with it.

Jobs that Don’t Exist

Alternatively, the scammer may claim that work-from-home employment  is readily available as a data processor for institutions like  hospitals. But this type of work cannot be done without a special  software application that only the scammer sells. The victims then  invest in the software (which can be priced in the thousands, even tens  of thousands of dollars) and it actually arrives. But when the victims  contact hospitals to offer the new service they quickly discover that  the jobs don’t exist. Hospitals don’t contract out billing services to  an external party.

Another version is the old envelope trick. The scammer tells you  that you can earn $2, $3 or even $5 an hour for addressing and sending out envelopes. However, you’ll probably have to buy them from him. They’re a special size or feature a logo or who knows what. Or you’ll need special software. Whatever the case may be, you invest the money and then the instructions arrive. Your job is to send the envelopes to all your friends telling them that they too can work-from-home by addressing envelopes. Don’t even try. You won’t get $2, $3 or even $5 an hour. You’ll get zippo. And you wind up losing money too since you bought the envelopes and the stamps, not to mention the software or whatever.

Money Laundering

Some work-from-home scammers will offer a work-from-home job, ostensibly in the import/export business. It will require you to use your  bank account to make and receive payments on behalf of a foreign company.  he scammers promise you a percentage commission for each  payment you pass on. This is a telltale sign of money laundering, which is a felony. Moreover, the scammer can use any personal account details you pass on to steal your money or commit other fraudulent offenses, such as identity theft.

Reshipping Work-from-Home Scams

A scammer who has used a stolen credit card for purposes of identity  theft and uses it to make major online purchases cannot have them sent to his own address without giving himself away. Instead, he may place messages in the social media advertising a work-from-home job that requires victims to agree to have the packages delivered to their own  homes. The scammer may claim that’s it’s merchandise he’s ordered for  his business, but since he’s frequently out of the office or out-of-town on business, he has no way to accept delivery.  He may even claim that it’s for a friend who is in that position.

The victims are instructed to forward the packages using their own  money, which they’re told will be reimbursed. It rarely is, however,  since the police may knock on your door first and arrest you.

Man-in-the-Middle Work-from-Home Scams

Criminals who operate work-from-home scams who don’t want to use a stolen credit card, or don’t have access to one, will employ a slightly different method to make you pay for their expensive merchandise. They’ll advertise that a respectable nationwide or international company is looking for part-time employees who can work from home. They may even mention in the ad that the position involves purchases. And you’ll be promised a huge salary.

If you check them out, you’ll see they have an impressive website. So you inquire. They’ll first tell you that capital expenses for items like computers, printers and wide-screen TVs vary across the country. You know that so what comes next sounds legitimate. Your job requires you to look for the best prices in your area and update them on a regular basis. You’ll be what is known as a “mystery shopper,” since you won’t know until they tell you which items you’ll have to hunt down. They’ll promise to send you a company credit card to make the purchases and shipment charges to their headquarters.

You’ll soon receive a list of items they require immediately. But you’ll have to use your personal credit card because the corporate one you’ve been promised isn’t ready yet. Or that company regulations require you to complete a probation period before being provided with one. At any rate, you definitely will receive reimbursement for the purchases you’ll be making for the company once they receive the items. Except that you won’t. You’re being used as a mule. Once they get the equipment you bought they’ll disappear, website and all, and you’ll be stuck with the bill.

Pyramid Schemes

Certain work-from-home offers may actually involve some form of  employment, but simultaneously function as elaborate pyramid schemes. New employees (who typically will work as distributors or door-to-door  salesmen for a certain product) are promised financial rewards every  time they recruit a new member to the team who sells a certain minimum number of products over a specific period of time. The more salesmen  there are in the immediate vicinity, however, the less likely any of  them is to sell enough of the products to make a living. In all  likelihood they also will first have to purchase a significant  investment beforehand by purchasing sample product kits, which is how the scammer makes his profit. 

In 2016 the Federal Trade Commission reached a settlement with Herbalife, which was operating its business as a pyramid scheme and  fined it $200 million. The company paid partial reimbursements to 350,000  people who ran Herbalife businesses.

If you think you’ve been the victim of a work-from-home scam, contact the fund recovery experts at MyChargeBack.  In 2000, the Securities and Exchange Commission fined Herbalife an additional $123 million for corrupt practices.

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