Yesterday, a regular visitor of Work-At-Home Success contacted me saying she received a letter with a $1,384.70 check to “mystery shop” for “Honda of America”. My fingers couldn’t type “NO, DON’T DO IT” fast enough (and I type fast!). The checks looks real. There is a job number listed. It says “Honda” on it. It doesn’t matter. It’s a scam. And not only can you lose money, you might end up in jail. Here are a few scams you need to watch out for:
Fake Check Scams
I know when money is tight, receiving a big check is tempting. You begin to rationalize; the check looks real, my bank wouldn’t take it if it was fake and so on. But the truth is, a bank teller doesn’t vet checks. She takes it and deposits it. Then, in a few days or even a few weeks, you get a notice from your bank… they’ve withdrawn the amount of the check from your account because the check you cashed was bogus. If you don’t have enough in the account to cover the check, your account is suspended until you can pay it. It’s even possible the bank will call the cops and you’ll be arrested for trying to pass a fake check. And unfortunately, ignorance is not a valid defense.
Basically, in this scam, the scammer has gotten YOUR money, not the other way around. You cashed $1000 check, sent $800 or so of it to wherever the job told you to send it. When the bank discovers the check is bogus, it gets it’s $1,000 back from you. That means you sent $800 of YOUR money to the scammer.
Here’s what you need to know: Legitimate companies will never, ever ask you to use your personal bank account to help it do business! Any company that sends you a check, asks you deposit it and send part of it somewhere else is ripping you off.
Fake check scams are advertised in a variety of ways including mystery shopping, customer service and payment processing. And it’s not limited to working at home. eBay sellers, landlords and other people who sell things often get approached with fake check deals. For example, I’ve heard stories in which a landlord received a $3,000 check to cover first and last month’s rent, which was only about $1,500, and asked the landlord to send the remaining g$1,500 to a “mover”. Regardless of what it’s called, you can identify it because it’s asking you deposit and then send money from your personal bank account.
If you think about it… what company in it’s right mind would send a check for a $1,000 to someone it doesn’t know and expect them to honestly handle the money? It’s testament to the honesty of victims that they actually follow through and send a portion of the money off when they could have just kept the whole thing for themselves.
Lotteries, Inheritance, and Help Me Transfer My Money Scams
I also got an email from someone who got an email saying she won the lottery. I get some variation of this every day. Sometimes I’ve won the lottery, other times I’ve been identified as an heir, and other times someone just thinks I’m nice and honest and is willing to pay me millions to help them with their money. Again, the idea of getting millions of dollars for nothing is appealing, but you don’t get it for nothing. These scammers will tell you you need to pay fees for transferring the money. You might think, “well a few hundred or thousand dollars in fees is worth it to get millions,” except you won’t get millions. All you get is the loss of your “fee” money.
Here’s what you need to know: Emails giving away money for nothing are scams!
Again, common sense should have you asking things like… how did I end up a lottery in the U.K.? How is it possible I’m an heir of someone I never met in a country I’ve never been to? etc. If you check the email carefully, you’ll likely discover that your name isn’t in it even though they write the note as if you’re the only one getting it.
I’ve gotten a couple of emails indicating I’d be hired for a job that I never applied to. It usually describes some sort of job that is scam (i.e. help process payments… see fake check scam), and asks for information like name, address, gender etc.
Here’s what you need to know: Legitimate employers aren’t seeking you out. They don’t need to. For every legitimate job, they have tons of applicants coming to them. Posting your resume on job sites can make it easy for you to apply to jobs posted, but don’t expect employers to search them and contact you. In most cases, you’ll find that the email isn’t even addressed to you specifically.
Typing, Email Processing
Very rarely do I find legitimate typing jobs (the legit ones are transcription). In most cases, typing jobs are either scams, or deceptive ads promoting affiliate marketing (which is legit but not typing and not a job). Email processing is just envelop stuffing done online (see below).
Work for Us, Send Money
This rule is related to employment. If a company says it will “hire” you, just end it $20, that’s not a job. It’s likely a scam. It will try to tell you the money is make sure you’re serious or to put you on payroll, but if you think about it, in any legitimate job you’ve had, did the boss ask for money when he interviewed you or hired you? It is okay to invest money in a home business or educational materials, but you never want to pay to get hired.
Envelope Stuffing, Mailers, etc
This actually falls under the “work for us, make money” (see above), but with the recent mailings from Preston Lord and others promoting a work-at-home opportunity to stuff envelopes or “mail special letters”, I wanted to give this scam it’s own section. This is another scam that if think about it rationally, you’d scratch your head. First, have you ever met anyone who’s job it is to stuff envelopes whether it’s from home or onsite? Me neither. Second, a company isn’t going to pay you hundreds of dollars to stuff envelopes when a machine will do it for nothing or a minimum wage worker will do it for less.
Most envelope stuffing scams are designed to perpetuate the scam. You send money to work as a home-mailer. You receive information that says to replicate the letter, buy a mailing list and send them the same letter you received. A few people you sent the letter to will send money, and you send them information on how to replicate the letter, send it etc. I know you don’t want to be scammed, and I’m equally sure that you don’t want to scam others, which is what would happen if you joining a mailing program.
Make Millions Guaranteed
Guarantees violate FTC rules unless of course, they can be met. But work-at-home scammers and schemers can’t guarantee you anything. In a work-at-home job, there are no guarantees, just a salary or wage for work well-done. In home business, you can’t get a guarantee because success is based on whether you do the work and do it well. The word “guarantee” should be a red flag when it comes to working at home.
One thing that has surprised me when it comes to working at home is how suspicious people are of legitimate offers, but how readily they sent their money to scammers. It shows just how clever scammers are. The best way to avoid scams is to know what they are and how they work. You need to use common sense and research opportunities that sound intriguing. Finally, if it sounds too good to be true, it’s probably a scam or at the very least a deceptive scheme, both of which care more about getting you money than helping you. Stay safe. Learn about scams and how to stay safe.
Leslie Truex is an ideaphoric writer, speaker, entrepreneur, social worker and mom trying to do it all from the comfort of her home. Since 1998, she's been helping others create careers they love by providing work-at-home information and resources through Work-At-Home Success.
Note: Work-At-Home Success contains advertising as well as screened work-at-home jobs and resources. Some posts may contain affiliate links, which means I may receive compensation if you register or buy using the link. Occasionally, WAHS publishes "Supporting Contributor" posts or paid reviews for which compensation is paid. These posts are marked as such. All opinions are my own.
View complete details on WAHS' privacy and disclosures.