While reputable work-from-home jobs and reputable job search sites do exist, so too do scammers who’d rather play upon the trust of the needy and use them as unwitting pawns in their illegal schemes.
But whereas some schemes are relative small potatoes, others are so structured, so potentially lucrative for their perpetrators, and so potentially damaging to those involved, that they could only be the product of organized crime. The highest profile of these schemes is known simply as the “reshipping fraud,” a nasty bit of business that’s not only attracted a ton of attention from the FBI, but proves once again that if it looks too good to be true, it probably is.
The advertisements typically boast short hours, great pay, and a work-at-home lifestyle, but the end results are quite a bit less desirable. Within days of signing up, courier and mail packages arrive at the door, complete with instructions to forward them to far-off destinations. Next, it’s money, both incoming and outgoing, and soon the phone calls begin – people wondering whatever became of their shipment, others perplexed or angered that an online purchase could go so horribly wrong. Reshipping fraud has its tentacles in just about everything and claims a long list of victims, including eBay sellers and buyers, credit card companies, online retailers, and, of course, the innocent guy or gal simply wanting to make a few extra bucks legally.
Not far removed from reshipping fraud is the “payment-forwarding” scam, wherein the newly hired “employee” is asked to provide a personal bank account number (presumably for direct deposit of paychecks) and then to begin forwarding sums of money (wire transfers, PayPal balances, etc) on behalf of the employer from one third-party account to another. One problem – most of that money is stolen and the victim has just played a key role in money-laundering.
How to Avoid:
• Don’t ever think that only a moron would fall for such a scam. Remember, con artists do this for a living. They’re not only extremely convincing but also exceedingly patient, often coming off as totally legit then subtly switching the rules as time goes on.
• Steer clear of businesses with mismatched area codes, addresses, and zip codes.
• Do not allow a new employer – particularly one you haven’t even met – to deposit funds in any of your accounts. Do not transfer money for them, do not forward money for them, and do not “wire” money for them.
• Surf over to the National Consumers League’s rather hip website at www.fakechecks.org for more information on how to recognize and avoid not only job scams but scamming in general.
• Check out the email address of your prospective new employer. Remember, email@example.com likely isn’t credible.