What Actually Happens When You Sign Up For One Of Those 'Work From Home' Scams

What Actually Happens When You Sign Up for One of Those 'Work from Home' Scams

We've all seen the ads: "Make $2000 a week working from home," or, ahem, "Start working at home with Google." But have you ever wondered what happens when you actually try to sign up for one of those programs? Planet Money figured that out. First things first. In most cases, a work at home scam is almost always about selling "helping" you start your own online business. Which is to say, surprise, you don't get to just sit around in your underwear and look at the internet all day. I'm guessing you can see where this is going, but here's Planet Money on how it typically plays out:

Here's how it works. When you respond to one of those ads, you give them your name and your contact info. Then, you get a call from someone at a call center saying so, you want to work from home...

You want to set up a website? They can build it for you. They will coach you on how to run a web business, handle all the paperwork, the accounting...

Of course, what's actually delivered is either a terrible web site or nothing at all, but that comes well after they get a bunch of money from someone. The whole scam follows a very specific script that builds rapport with the person before extracting a credit card number. It's a pretty obvious scam and it's amazing that it actually works. Still, even if you fancy yourself savvy on these types of things, Planet Money goes through a ton of sales tactics that are applicable beyond just "work from home" scams that are worth looking out for.

Anatomy of a Scam [Planet Money]


    Just listened to Planet Money podcast on this and it's startling. The audio of a poor woman actually getting taken in by the scam is pretty brutal to listen to.

    Work from home make $489.70 a fortnight, just sign up:


    Or they just recruit you as a money laundering mule:
    "You'll be a local broker for our multinational trading company. At present we're lacking an Australian representative [read: someone with an Australian bank account] with an outstanding CV and credit record such as yourself, blah blah blah. Your duties will involve receiving funds transfers into your account, and sending those funds via Western Union to our international clearing houses, less of course your 10% commission which for our best brokers totals in excess of $20k/month!" The funds, are of course, the result of various scams or simply a vector for getting illicit funds out of the country.
    Then you wait for the police to come and charge you with dealing with suspected proceeds of crime, or worse. E.g. division 400.9 of the Criminal Code 1995 (Cth):
    (1A) A person commits an offence if:
    (a) the person deals with money or other property; and
    (b) it is reasonable to suspect that the money or property is proceeds of crime; and
    (c) at the time of the dealing, the value of the money and other property is less than $100,000.
    Penalty: Imprisonment for 2 years, or 120 penalty units, or both.

    That's just one of the possible reasons for running this scam.

    Advertising 'work from home' jobs is also used to recruit 'mules' to move stolen funds from compromised bank accounts.

    They'll normally spin a story about using your account to make it easier for their Australian based customers to make payment to their overseas company. They will have customers pay you direct, you forward the money on using Western Union or similar, minus a cut to yourself.

    A week or less later, you've transferred several thousand dollars overseas, pocketed a few hundred or so yourself, and then receive a phone call from a bank, and then the police. Say goodbye to your easily 'earned' money.

    Source: Used to work in banking including handling Internet Banking fraud/theft

    This is only one scam, there are plenty of others where you can trap so be careful while you are online. I never trust any email which comes to my inbox from any other source than my contact list.

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