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5 Work-From-Home Job Scams

Topics: Career Advice
work-from-home job scams

If you’ve ever searched online for a work-from-home job, you’ve seen the ads: Make a bajillion dollars in your jammies, with just a laptop and a dream! Stuff envelopes and earn more than an anesthesiologist! Accept wire transfers and collect high profits!

Just like your grandma used to tell you, if it seems too good to be true, it usually is. But while some work-from-home job scams are pretty obvious, others are more subtle. And since working from home itself can feel too good to be true, it’s not strange that many perfectly intelligent people fall for scammers’ tricks.

Recently, FlexJobs ran a list of scams that you’re likely to run into, if you’re looking for a remote job. These are a few of the most common:

1. Stuffing Envelopes

Scammers advertise positions paying thousands of dollars to workers who want to stuff envelopes from home. Later, applicants discover that there’s a fee to get started and/or a requirement to sign up other envelope-stuffers for a commission.

2. Wire Transfers

Typically, the ad will claim that the employer doesn’t have the time to transfer funds themselves or deal with money orders, etc., and then promise a commission to workers who’ll take on this task. The commission never materializes, but the victim may find themselves out money — or else involved in shady financial dealings.

3. High-Paying Data Entry Jobs

FlexJobs notes that there are legitimate data entry jobs out there, but they don’t pay thousands of dollars per week. The median pay for a data entry clerk, per PayScale’s data, is $12.45 per hour. Beware jobs that offer wages that far exceeds that.

4. Rebate Processing

This is another scam involving paying for a training kit, but there’s another wrinkle: workers typically aren’t paid for processing rebates, as promised, but for creating ads for products and selling them to other people online.

5. Pyramid Schemes

These scams typically offer no product whatsoever — just a chain of people scamming other people into sending money up the line.

FlexJobs shares this job posting for a pyramid marketing scam:

My name is Michael. I’ve made it my job to help people succeed online. I’m constantly on the lookout for the best ways and means to make your job simpler, and I pass the good stuff on to you. I have developed the eBay Cash Machine – it allows everyone to make a great income on eBay 99% automatically. It only takes a few minutes to set up and once that is done you will have your own eBay Businesses that literally run on auto-pilot! You just wait for the money to come in!

3 Signs of Work-From-Home Job Scams

1. High Pay for Easy Work

If a machine or a low-paid intern could do the job for less, there’s no reason for the company to pay you more. No employer is going to offer top wages for stuffing envelopes, assembling crafts or filling out forms.

2. “You Have to Spend Money to Make Money”

If the ad (or “employer”) asks for money, walk away. You should never have to pay for a kit, training or samples in order to get started. Many of these are outright scams — you send in your money and then never hear from them again. Some are MLM plans, which may or may not be pyramid schemes, but are unlikely to provide the high profits promised in the marketing materials.

3. Requests for Credit Card or Bank Account Information

Legitimate employers don’t need information like this from applicants or new hires. If you’re asked for your financial data, you can be sure that the real product is you, and that you’re being scammed.

Worse, the fraudulent organization might be trying to involve you in a crime.

“Some scammers ask to use your personal bank account to transfer money from one account to another account,” writes Alison Doyle at The Balance. “It is called money laundering, and it’s against the law.”

For more information, see FlexJobs’s article, 9 Common Job Search Scams and How to Protect Yourself.  

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Jen Hubley Luckwaldt
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