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“Work part time in your own home and make $500 to $1500 your first month! It couldn’t be any easier!”
“A genuine opportunity! Guaranteed income!”
“Work minutes a day at home and earn enough to make your dreams come true.”
Con artists pitching work-at-home schemes rake in $427 billion dollars a year. These scams are a favorite way for con artists to exploit people. They use appealing but unrealistic come-ons to lure unwary people into parting with their hard-earned money with the hope of hitting it big financially.
You’ve seen their promotions pasted on telephone poles, easy reading for walkers or drivers waiting for a light to change. Many have tear-off slips with a phone number to call. The ads also show up on supermarket bulletin boards, in newspaper classified sections, in magazines and on TV.
They’re on the Internet and especially chat rooms, bulletin boards and message boards. Since anyone can post to a message board, the promotions can even show up online at the message boards run by honest organizations that you trust, such as AARP.
Let’s look at a message board posting by a fellow named Bill about a work-at-home business. It had glowing praise from an alleged satisfied business owner. Debbie was assigned a personal coach and found “money coming in right away -- $1500 her very first month.”
What Bill’s promotion didn’t include was any idea of what the business was, what its product might be, how new owners would contact possible customers, or what the total costs might be.
Scam work-at-home schemes never do include such information because the salespersons aren’t interested in you making money. They only want to bilk you out of as much money as they can and then disappear from the scene. Many are more interested in recruiting new salespersons than doing the project. They get a bonus or commission for bringing in new recruits; that’s why they sound so enthusiastic about the money to be made.
Work-at-home schemes come in many forms. They include:
And sometimes, those who send money for any of these schemes receive absolutely nothing. They just get their money taken.
What You Can Do
Work-at-home schemes appeal to our desires to earn more money, avoid having a boss, work fewer hours, and stop commuting. Often scammers tap into people’s dreams of being rich and famous. “You too can drive a BMW and vacation in the islands.” “All you have to do is spend a few minutes a day and earn all the money you need to make all your dreams come true.”
But you can defend yourself against work-at-home scams. Start by staying alert and using your common sense. If a particular promotion seems too good to be true, it is. Don’t waste your time or money.
In addition, keep on the outlook for these types of claims:
Questions to Ask
Fraudulent promoters of work-at-home schemes leave many unanswered questions. Don’t send any money until you get clear and complete answers – in writing – to all these questions:
If the answers you receive don’t really satisfy all your concerns, walk away from the promotion. The chances are good that the promotion is really a scam.