Work At Home Scam Busting - 21 Signs of a Rip Off

97% of work at home websites are scams, and new swindles are launched every day. But they’re mostly variations on old themes. Here are the most common:


# 1 — Bait and switch:

They offer you a free access to their listings. They’ll even email you new listings as they’re added. Of course, the listings don’t disclose who the employers are, and the only way to apply for the job is to sign up for the web site’s resume distribution services. For just $29.99 they’ll allow you to apply for as many jobs as you want for 3 months. Or, choose their $59.99 premium service and they’ll forward your resume to their phantom employers for a full year. Best of all, their $199.99 super-duper service offers to email your resume to thousands of employers so you can just sit back and let the job offers come to you

#2 — Send us money and . . .

We’ll send you a list of employers , we’ll share our secrets for how you can make millions, we’ll enroll you in our exclusive club . . . and we’ll take you to the cleaners.

#3 — Sounds too good to be true

Make $50/hour. No education, training, or experience necessary. Make $100,000 working part time. Make a fortune, overnight, without working.

#4 — Hide n’ Seek

A close relative of #2 . Our opportunity is so fabulous that we have a whole web site dedicated to not telling you what it is. Send money and we’ll enlighten you. Or not.

#4 — Super-Colossal Sites

Marketing experts have identified a number of words that supposedly yield Pavlovian responses among unwary consumers. Scamsters seem to subscribe to the more is better theory and their sites are littered with words and phrases such as: Free, Colossal, Premium, Guaranteed, Top Rated, Proven Winner, Top 10, No Risk, Limited Time Offer, Act Now, Big Money $Fast$, Quick and Easy!!!!! (they seem extra fond of exclamation points as well.)


Many of the web scammers apparently use the same word processor. You can tell because the cap lock is obviously stuck in the ‘on’ position. Their sites are often infested with phrases like BUY NOW, LIMITED TIME OFFER, and ONLY 10 TERRITORIES LEFT. They’se so excited by your visit that they flash, dance, jiggle, pop over, pop under, play music, or otherwise scream for your attention.

#9 — As-Seen-On-TV

Or not. Don’t believe everything you see. Just because a web site says they’ve been featured in the New York Times, USA Today, and CNN, doesn’t mean they have. Unless they actually provide links to the relevant articles or features, they probably haven’t. ‘Course’ they may have been on the news—as an example of a scam, you never know.

#10 — 100% Legitmate – Scam Free Listings

Just because it says their job posts are fully researched, scam free, 100% legitimate, or the like, don’t believe it. Almost all of the scam sites we visited offer advice on how to avoid scams.

#11 — Bogus Seals Of Approval

Don’t assume that seals of approval mean anything. All three of these appeared on an at-home job scam site. The Better Business Bureau has no record of the site’s owners. The second is a seal from a company that offers limited oversight of member companies (if they pay their $45 to join) and the site accepts Google ads that link to scams. And the third gives no indication of whom the certification is from.

#12 — All Dressed Up And Nowhere To Go

Be very skeptical of companies that offer training — for a fee, of course. There may not be any jobs available. Or employers may not recognize their training program making your expensive diploma not worth the paper it’s printed on. Any reputable employer will train you, except perhaps for professional jobs such as nursing.

#13 — Big Deposit, No Returns

Don’t buy anything that doesn’t offer at least a 30 day return policy. Heck, even bookstores take returns (something I’ve never understood). But don’t assume that a return guarantee will necessarily produce a refund. Scammers have all kinds of excuses why the guarantee doesn’t apply to you.

#14 — Certified by Me

One of the more common scams is to offer certification or accreditation in something that doesn’t require certification or acceeditation, or offer their own special certificate that no one else recognizes.

#15 — Located In Scenic Downtown Nowhere

Sites that do not offer a legitimate company address or any way to reach them are a clue that a scam is afoot. If fact, don’t even trust legitimate addresses. If they’re located at 1000 Harvard Way, Princetown, FL, pop up Google Maps and make sure that such a place exists. Call the office and see if you get a real human. Ask them to mail you materials (if they do and they’re fraudulent, they’ve committed a federal offense).

#16 — Resume Snatchers

If you post your resume on a job board don’t be surprised if you receive bogus invitations to work:

Dear Jacob, we received your resume from and believe you a perfect fit with our company . . . fill out the attached application (which includes your social security number) ….

Using a technique called “spoofing”, the sender’s email may even look like it came from, but don’t believe it. These shysters are identity thieves.

#17 — Business Opportunities

The FTC has rules about what information must be provided to a prospective business opportunity buyer when the cost of admission is over $500. If the marketing materials or ads include an income claim, they seller must disclose the percentage of buyers who achieve that level of income. In addition, they must give the names of 10 prior purchasers as references. If the promoter is not forthcoming with this information, assume it’s a scam.

#18 — Email Miners

Some sites whole purpose is to obtain your email address so they can sell it to other scammers. Here’s a letter I received after posting my resume on a job board:

From: [email protected]
Subject: No fee required to work with us

We are looking for partners worldwide. The position is home-based. Our Company Head Office is located in UK with branches all over the world. We are looking for talented, honest, reliable representatives from different regions. The ideal candidate will be an intelligent person, someone who can work autonomously with a high degree of enthusiasm. Our Company offers a very competitive salary to the successful candidate, along with an unrivalled career progression opportunity.

If you would like to work with our active, dynamic team, we invite you to apply for employment. Preference will be given to applicants with knowledge of multiple languages. Please send the following information to [email protected]

Full name

Address of residence

Contact Phone numbers

Languages spoken

Whether you are interested in part time job or full time employment.

Thank you. We look forward to working with you.

One way to fend off email spam is to use disposable email addresses (DEA). Yahoo and others mail servers allow you to set up custom addresses that you can throw away if they start receiving spam. If your regular address is [email protected], you can set up other addresses such as [email protected], [email protected], [email protected], etc. DEA’s can be a handy way to filter your email as well. For example, if you want to send all the Craigslist responses to one folder, just set up a filter to recognize the custom email address when it comes in.

#19 — Let The Circle Be Unbroken

If you could fly above the web and see how sites link together, many would remind you of sitting around a campfire singing Kum Ba Yah. Techniques such as Link Farming, Spamdexing, and Webrings fraudulently gain page rank by creating a big circle of links. For the most part, their sole purpose is to make money from Google click-thru ads.

#20 — What You See Is NOT What You Get

It’s amazing how many ways scammers have found to exploit the web. They’ve even found ways to hijack you away from legitimate sites. They create Doorway, Bridge, Portal, and Zebra Pages to dup you into coming to their sites. They hack, scrape and cloak legitimate web sites to draw you into their webs. And when the search engines get wise to their techniques, they quickly conjure up new ones. Watch the URL carefully in the address line of your browser. is not the same place as

#22 — Call this 1-900 number

If you call a website’s 900 number, you won’t get a job and you’ll be out the cost of the phone call. The scammers set the per minute rate that could be as much as $25 a minute. You call, they keep you on the line as long as possible before you figure out it’s a scam. They make money, not you.

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