Scammers are using well-known Internet brands like Google, Facebook and Yahoo to trick people into purchasing “work from home kits” and then ripping off victims’ credit cards, bank accounts, or stealing their personal information to use for identity theft.
Want to work from home? Who wouldn’t? No commute, no dress code, no office fridge turf wars… And these days, it’s a feasible proposition. Online collaboration tools have advanced enormously, and a lot of work can be done over email, Skype or other websites.
So work-from-home opportunities from giants like Google, Facebook and Yahoo seem especially promising, and all of those companies make a lot of money from things like online advertising. Why not outsource some of the busywork to the at-home crowd?
But unfortunately, most of these too-good-to-be-true job offers turn out to be a scam. Let’s find out more:
Work From Home Scams Take Many Forms
A classic example of a work from home scam was busted by Snopes.com. It read something like this:
Google has now opened it’s (sic) doors and will be hiring everyday people to work from the comfort of their own homes posting links. The way this works is Google will allow people to signup and receive a package which will contain all the step by step instructions to get setup from home.
You can read the rest of the ad here. But suffice to say, it goes on to promise weekly checks of $750 to $1500 for a few hours’ “simple and easy” work, requiring no special computer skills. Just pay $2.95 to have a “kit” shipped that will explain the job fully.
Now, that pay scale is suspicious: In the real world, you’d have to be working full-time at $37.50 an hour to net $1500 a week. If they can afford that for a few hours of work, why not spring for $3 shipping? The site claims the shipping fee is to screen for “serious” applicants (because job interviews are passé, I guess?)
Fake Testimonials, Fake Press
To ease the minds of the suspicious job seeker, these scammers create fake web pages full of testimonials from satisfied kit owners. Now-defunct sites like “BryansMoneyBlog.com” tout the benefits of signing up, and the scammers claim their scheme was priased in legitimate news sources.
For those who still question the overly-generous pay, well, Google has plenty of money to burn, right? These make the job irresistible to the most vulnerable job seekers, according to Snopes:
Those searching for employment opportunities that will allow them to work from home are all too often the very people who can least afford to be defrauded… [T]he elderly, the physically challenged, or parents committed to remaining at home with their preschool children…hunt for work-at-home opportunities because laboring in more traditional job settings is impossible for them.
After all, it’s one thing to want to work from home because you’ve built up enough credentials as a designer, programmer, or CPA that your clients will meet you in your living room. But if working from home is your only option, desperation may leave you much more vulnerable to scams.
The Truth About Work From Home Job Offers
The truth is, the whole operation is a front to get victims’ credit card information (via the shipping fee). People defrauded by this scam report recurring charges on their credit cards of much more than $3, and they may also be subject to identity theft.
At least this scam is a great object lesson in the warning signs to watch out for. If you’re looking for work online and find a work from home job offer, keep an eye open for the following red flags:
- If it sounds too good to be true, it probably is: If the job offers a generous salary to someone with a blank resume or no special skills, there’s something else going on.
- If you’re not sure why this is a job, it may be a scam: Google has computer algorithms to post links. No need to pay humans to do it.
- A legitimate employer won’t charge you money to work for them: Even if it’s only $2-3 in shipping for your work materials.
- Check your credit card statement for suspicious charges regularly – a good practice anyway.
If you run across a suspicious-looking posting, let us know. In the meantime, maybe work on learning a new programming language or earning a CPA if you’re really determined to work from home.
What do you think? Share your comments about work from home job scams.
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