Recently I got a phone call from a man who was almost in tears. He has been unemployed for over a year, and was desperate for anything, so when he received an email offering him a work at home job posting ads for electronics on Craigslist, he jumped at it. There was no fee involved, all he had to do was spend an hour or two posting 20 or more ads in major cities in his state.

He did it, and he saw that the company was getting a lot of responses, when he'd reached the payout amount, he asked for his money. No response, he sent another email, nothing. At that point he started looking for advice and saw my website.

Unfortunately after I did some research for him, I had to tell him there really was nothing I could do, and that he had no real way of going after the 'company' to get his money. Because as it turned out it wasn't a real company, and while he could try to track the person down with the IP address, there was no contract so it would cost more to get the money back then he would actually get back.

In his case, it was simply more broken promises on top of his already bad situation, at least he hadn't spent money he couldn't afford on this. Others aren't so lucky.

So how do you spot a work at home scam?

Undocumented Claims

Ok, they have a video of a paypal account, that shows thousands of dollars being sent to it by 'customers', and you can get that to. This is good right?


It's incredibly easy for a programmer to create a page that looks identical to Paypal, saying whatever he wants it to. Or if I wanted to do it on the cheap. I could open a second Paypal account, and just transfer a few hundred or thousand dollars from my savings into one of them, and make a couple of transfers. As soon as I finish the video, I put it all back into my bank account.

Some companies also say they have been written up in major papers and have done interviews on news programs, where they were called “Revolutionary!” “Amazing!” “Fantastic!” and more. 99% of the websites I've seen this on don't actually have links to any of these write ups or interviews.

Why not?

Because they're lying.

Spend Money to Make Money

This sets off my alarm bells the moment I hear it, you have to send a company money to work for them. You're making this company money, why do you have to pay them?

There are some cases where this is ok, if the company is hosting a website for you, this can be acceptable. With most online shops and affiliates, you have to pay a monthly fee for using their servers and programs, and all of them charge anywhere from $15 to $200 a month depending on your various things.

But I've seen far too many sites that say “Pay us $50 and we'll show you a lot of customers!” If you actually pay them the money all you will get is a glorified job board, showing ads from Craigslist.

There are also the jobs of putting things together, stuffing envelops and selling physical products, which ask you to pay money for training or supplies. I don't like these, as these companies don't actually offer refunds, or do anything than send you a few basic supplies.

If a company asks you for money, find people who have worked with the company in the past to make sure it's legitimate. Some, maybe 1%,of these companies are legitimate, but if they are there should be lots of people saying how they made money and recommending it.

They Promise the World

“Buy my revolutionary job program today, and by the end of the month, I'll teach you how to make 5 thousand dollars a month! If you buy my advanced program, you'll make 10,000 dollars a month! Purchase my AMAZING program and You'll make 20,000 dollars a month, be dating super model, and look like you were 20 again!!!! NO EXPERIENCE NECESSARY!”

Oh my god! That's amazing and so believable! Where can I can sign?

You Have to Buy Something

Some jobs will say you have to purchase a special program to actually start working for their fantastic company.
This goes back to point 2, if you have to spend money, be twice as careful, and search the net for independent reviews who can vouch for it.

No Real Contact Information

This is where the man who contacted me made his mistake. The email listed a company, but didn't mention an address, phone number or anything else, it was simply a name and email address. In the modern world, especially if a company works online, they should have a phone number, physical location, Linkedin profile, and even a Facebook page and Twitter account.

I sell my services online, and as you can see, I have a phone number, email, Facebook page, and LinkedIn account, which shows I live in Nanjing, China. I'm very small, I'd expect an actual company to offer at a minimum that same amount of information.

Finding a Scam

Before agreeing to do work or send money to a work at home company, check it out. Often a five minute Google search of the companies name will reveal if it has a good reputation or not. If you can't get anything from their name, type in “there name scam”. If the company isn't brand new, you'll find something about them. And if they are brand new you can ask an expert like 'Dan Clarke', or ask on a work at home forum.

Whatever you do, don't jump at the first opportunity that promises you work. Take your time and do some research.

Good luck

Author's Bio: 

Dan Clarke specializes in helping people achieve their dreams of working from home, whether it's full time or simply to help raise some extra money. Currently raising a family, and having broken away from the 9 to 5 routine through his own work, he uses his own experience to advise people on how to achieve a success both in their business and with their family.