Desperate Job Seekers Continue To Fall Prey To Work-At-Home Scams

job scams

For many unemployed Americans, the need to find a job, any job, has made them susceptible to con artists promising easy riches through work-at-home schemes and similar frauds.

They include Barbara Beatteay, a 58-year-old cancer patient and stroke survivor who was unemployed, bankrupt and struggling to pay medical bills when she answered what she thought was a legitimate ad to work from home as an administrative assistant.

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"These are desperate times and I was a desperate woman," Beatteay told the Fort Myers News-Press in a recent interview.

Beatteay found the job ad on Monster.com, placed by what she determined to be a reputable stock-trading firm called Norman and Johnson Solutions, based in Chicago. The firm had a website and a phone number, which Beatteay called. She was offered a job that supposedly paid $2,500 a month plus a 5 percent commission to process dividends to be paid to investors.

But Beatteay soon discovered that she and other women, who supplied the firm with their bank account information, were essentially being used to launder money sent overseas. It worked like this: An agent for Norman and Johnson would deposit money from a credit card into Beatteay's bank account and she would then wire the funds to clients in the Ukraine via Western Union and MoneyGram.

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What Beatteay didn't know is that Norman and Johnson would then claim that the transactions that deposited funds into her account were fraudulent and would be reversed. Meanwhile, the money she had wired from her account had already been debited. And since she didn't have the money to cover the transactions, her account was overdrawn and then frozen by her bank. In all, Beatteay was out nearly $15,000.

Unfortunately for Beatteay she fell victim to a fairly common job scam, promoted through online ads. Others involve medical billing, online surveys and mystery shoppers.

For every legitimate online posting for home-based jobs, there are 60 scams, according to Creators Syndicate, which represents professional work-from-home writers and artists. The organization further notes that online bulletin boards, such as Craigslist, are rife with scams. For each legitimate job posted, there are 100 times as many scams.

One company alleged to have perpetrated such frauds is a Bakersfield, Calif.-based company called Home Works. The Better Business Bureau says that it has received 12 complaints from consumers nationwide in the past year, earning Home Works the business watchdog's "F" rating.

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BBB says Internet-based Home Works sells medical-billing software to wannabe workers for $199, which supposedly allows them to create a home-based business. But complaints received by BBB allege that the software doesn't work, no customer support is available and the workers aren't able to obtain refunds.

AOL Jobs wasn't able to find a website or other information about the company, aside from a physical address, which the BBB says is nothing more than a mail drop.

Job scams involving medical billing -- and similar types of home-based jobs -- are common, says Bethany Mooradian, author of "I Got Scammed So You Don't Have To."

The fraud usually involves job seekers paying for a service or product that will help them get a job, only to find out that the company or the products don't exist after their money is long gone.

But, Mooradian tells AOL Jobs, that there are legitimate ways to get into medical billing. "It's a trade. You have to learn it." One resource, she notes, is the Association for Healthcare Documentation Integrity, which offers an online training programs in medical billing. The course takes about a year and AHDI helps with job placement after completion of training. Community and technical colleges also offer courses in the field.

More: Top 10 Jobs Of The 21st Century

In addition to medical billing, jobs involving online surveys or mystery shopping, in which workers pose as shoppers to rate retail establishments on customer service and other measures, are frequently targets of scam artists even though such jobs are legitimate careers.

Scammers do so by asking job seekers to send money or buy products, when in reality applicants needn't spend any money to get such jobs.

"They take something they know to be true, tweak it enough and unfortunately [unsuspecting] people fall for it," Mooradian says.

The Massachusetts Better Business Bureau offers these warning signs, among others, to help job seekers determine whether a job is real or just too good to be true:
  • Wire transfers. If a supposed employer asks you to pay an advance fee for a job via a wire transfer, it's definitely a scam. When you wire money, it's gone.
  • Full-time pay for part-time work. If the job promises to pay a lot of money but doesn't require experience, it might be a scam.
  • Job offers from strangers. If you post a resume on an online job board and are offered a job immediately -- without filling out an application or having an interview -- it's probably a scam. Never give out personal information, especially your Social Security number or bank account information.
  • Advance payments. If someone wants you to pay for a fee for a job, it could be a scam.
  • High-pressure sales tactics. Don't take a job before you have thoroughly researched the business.
  • No written job description. Ask for information about the job in writing. Look carefully at any documentation to make sure it answers all of your questions. If a business doesn't respond to your questions, move on.


David Schepp

Staff Writer

David Schepp has spent more than a dozen years covering business news for the electronic and print media, including Dow Jones Newswires, BBC News, Gannett Co., and most recently at AOL's DailyFinance. Nearly 10 years ago, he started writing a weekly People@Work column, looking in depth at issues facing workers in today's workplace. The syndicated column appeared in newspapers and websites nationwide before it made its debut on DailyFinance in 2010. Schepp now continues that tradition at Aol Jobs, covering the jobs beat and providing readers insight and analysis into the nation's challenging employment scene.

Schepp holds a Bachelor of Arts degree in journalism from Metropolitan State College of Denver.

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22 Comments

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andcustomhomes

Hi All. YES! There are legitimate, online, work from home, telecommuting jobs out there. I have been working from home for the past 12 years and love it. I'm talking real work for real companies not MLM schemes and "Business Opportunities".

he key is knowing where to find the legit work from home jobs and then following two important rules.

First, never pay for a job, they should pay you plain and simple. Second, if it sounds too good to be true, it is.

Now, where do you find the jobs? There is a wonderful no scam, no fee online job database called the "Legitimate Online JobDirectory" at http://www.LegitimateOnlineJobDirectory.com. I do freelance work for many of the companies listed there such as Key for Cash, MicroWorkers, and TextBrokers.

Another place to find good work from home jobs is flexjobs.com as mentioned above. You can also search the major job sites like Careerbuilder, Simply Hired and Indeed. Just be sure to follow the rules above.

I hope this helps!

August 21 2012 at 10:39 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
billatpups

Well is there any such thing as LEGIT work from home jobs? I doubt it

July 31 2012 at 8:22 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
lifehub

People, before answering any job ad check with the BBB, Consumer Affairs, Ripoff Report and do your own search. Stay away from job postings on Craigslist and Snag-a-Job which links to a facebook page, especially under 'security jobs.' These are fraudulent since the supposed security company must be listed with the Dept. of Criminal Justice including their Division of Licensing Service. The DOCJ also has a running and up-to-date list of security companies who have fallen out of favor with them due to fraud and/or lack of licensing.

July 31 2012 at 6:42 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
Bill

Then there is the shipping company that uses you to steal from others. Usually they have a legit name that they steal from a legit company. They use a stolen credit card number to purchase products. The retailer automatically ships the merchandise to the card holders address. The theives intercept and redirect the shipment to your front door. All you have to do is apply a new shipping label to the package (usually out of country) and send it on its way. Once they have used you a few times, the company just vanishes (without paying you) and you are left holding the bag when the person who had the credit card number stolen turns it in to authorities.

July 31 2012 at 6:33 AM Report abuse +1 rate up rate down Reply
Laura Long Woerner

I was caught up in one of these a job ad was sent to my student email account and I assumed it was legit, since it was sent to my college account and I had not given my email out to anyone. Supposedly I was suppose to order things for a company. They would send me a check and I was suppose to cash it and then order the things they needed and keep the change as my pay. I assumed it was a scam as soon as I saw how much the check was, so I went to US bank and had the check looked at and of course the account had been frozen due to fraud. I am glad I was smart enough to check it out first.

July 31 2012 at 6:27 AM Report abuse +1 rate up rate down Reply
Sue

IDIOTS!!!!!!

July 30 2012 at 10:01 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
Mike

I know one person who got hit with one of these. She had to buy special software, a specific hub, headset and some other stuff from the company so she could work from home. I think she spent around $600 or so...never got a dime. Plus they wanted her bank account info so they could direct deposit her check. No bank account (very destitute at the time). Spent pretty much the last of her cash buying all the hardware. Rotten people in the world.

July 30 2012 at 8:28 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
storytellerjmc

This demonstrates the old Barnum line "There's a sucker born every minute". Yes, I have a little sympathy for the victims, but they are their own problem. We have a subculture of people who fall for the scams - and we can't fix stupid. The same people respond to (1) work at home schemes (2) pay day loans (3) winning foreign lotteries they never entered (4) the list goes on and on - - -

July 30 2012 at 7:12 PM Report abuse +1 rate up rate down Reply
1 reply to storytellerjmc's comment
Nancy

What's it like to be perfect? How far away can people still see your halo?

July 31 2012 at 8:05 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
racingred

why would ANYONE give out their bank account information to begin with?????? That's as stupid as sending money to claim a prize---

July 30 2012 at 2:39 PM Report abuse +2 rate up rate down Reply
jorwmu

How can people be so stupid??? Anyway, there will no doubt be "scams" listed in the comment section of this very article yet NO ONE does anything about it!!! I'M so sick of my email box getting blasted with "SCAM" emails from someone saying that I won the African lottery or some rich guy died in England and they need my bank account info to deposit millions for me lol I forward all scam emails to the federal government yet I NEVER hear anything back. Most of these scams originate in Nigeria, Africa so I have sent some colorful replies to those guys if ya know what i mean lol

July 30 2012 at 2:15 PM Report abuse +1 rate up rate down Reply
3 replies to jorwmu's comment

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