How To Recognize Work At Home Scams & Fake Home Jobs

Who doesn’t need money? Having enough of it may mean more freedom and choices. But how much is enough? Is it really that important? For many, it’s not as important as time.

Having money is great, but it takes time to produce it. Time is limited, and money is not. If you want money, you can trade it with your time. And if you lack the time, you can buy it with money. 

That principle makes freelancing work. You see, it’s not about having a one-of-a-kind skillset, but having the time to do what others won’t do. In short, delegation and automation.

You’d be amazed at how simple jobs people are willing to pay. Why? For the same reason that Jeff Bezos himself doesn’t ship products, Mark Zuckerberg doesn’t code his platform, or Warren Buffet buys businesses instead of building them.

Some tasks are simple, most of which anyone can get paid working from home

Just because it’s simple, it doesn’t mean it’s easy. In fact, the harder it is to make money, the more legit the model likely is.

The problem with chasing money is, many factors you don’t see could cost more money than what you earn:

  • Are you creating real value to get paid?
  • Who else could do what you do? How easy it’s for competitors to get into?
  • How much time does it require? 
  • What are your income ceiling and floor?
  • Who controls the asset?

Failing to address these questions can lead to uncomfortable rip-offs. It may not even be about how much you can earn, when, nor how, but who sells you that opportunity. If that Who has different intentions, you can fall for a work-from-home scam.

What Are Work From Home Scams?

There’s one sure way to make money fast and easy. To scam the fools who believe that get-rich-quick-and-easy is possible.

When we mention Work From Home, you may think of starting an online business. However, businesses take time and money before having a chance for profits. It requires patience, discipline, and perseverance.

For scammers, it’s too easy to justify upfront charges when you’re betting in your business:

Don’t worry: it’s an investment, not an advance fee scam

Work-from-home scams manipulate excited beginners to get money and data before they even make a penny (if they ever make one!). The victim works with whom they believe to be either a client or a business partner. The scammer— who has no intention of paying— will follow-up on the victim like a maniac, get what he wants, and walk away.

4 Features Of Work-From-Home Scams

Don’t get us wrong: get-rich-quick is possible and a must if you want to be rich; you have no time to get rich slow. But be warned: it’s too easy to disguise a make-money scheme as if it was the opportunity of the century.

#1 Immaculate Copywriting

Google “make money online.” What do you see? Suits? Cars? Remote Islands? This niche is profitable if you do it well. In the last few years, however, it’s taking a nasty trend: if you don’t have the most extravagant results, no-one will take you seriously.

As usual, get-rich-quick schemes are based on human greed. You must have something others want to get the victims’ attention.

Copywriting encourages people to buy with emotions. With the right skill, you can brainwash victims and make them convince themselves they wanted to buy it, although they never needed the product in the first place!

As a golden rule, you have to be ready for work-from-home scams before they happen because, by the time you read their letter, you won’t be thinking clearly.

#2 High-Pressure Sales Tactics

Scammers know it: the fear of missing out has more influence than the excitement of a reward.

  • “Time-limited offer! We double the price in two hours.”
  • “Limited registrations available! We’ll give a bonus package to the first 142 people who sign up.” (then you see website notifications about who just bought it and how many are left)

Sales tactics become more problematic indirect methods like the phone. An agent may offer an expensive package, then make a 50% discount if you buy before they hang up the phone.

#3 Exceptional VS Conservative

Anybody with experience knows results vary a lot depending on who follows the model, when, where, and how. Because of it, people should only buy considering their most conservative expectations.

But that’s not what sells the program. Extraordinary results do. People want to hear of the guys who 10X their earnings within hours and get excited. They want countless testimonials reporting awesome numbers, so they believe they can achieve it too.

Of course, the host never guaranteed results. But if you read dozens of testimonials reporting $10K in ten days, this confidence trick distorts your expectations.

#4 Brand Website

Whenever you find a new make-money website, pay attention to how they are rather than what they say. If you don’t check for reviews on sites like Trustpilot, nobody can guarantee what they offer works.

How much work does it take to fake a new brand’s reputation? Not much, only some fabricated reviews and an SSL certificate.

A scammer will likely visit legit, reputable work-from-home sites, then model their design to disguise as one. A professional website may inspire confidence, but also lead to identity theft.

With these four features, one can make money by just promising money. Scammers profit from money chasers who want things to be easy.

Why Do So Many People Fall For Work-From-Home Scams?

In 2020, work-from-home schemes have more power than ever. Almost every week, you may get phishing emails or money opportunities. It’s not surprising why so many get hooked into scams:

#1 Desperation

Nowadays people are becoming aware of how unreliable traditional jobs may be. People can’t generate income when they’re not at the office, which means they need to work from home to cover their expenses.

For many, work-from-home turns into a necessity rather than a side hustle. People who got fired recently will likely try remote job options.

#2 No Experience

The number of people who work from home grows faster and faster every year. We’re talking of millions of people who get into it who haven’t made a single dollar online in their lives.

Having zero experience working from home creates fake expectations about what that work should look like. They may think it’s hard because they’ve never done it before. When a scammer comes up with a get-rich-easy method, it’s too attractive to ignore it.

#3 Positive Connotations

While many see working as “boring,” most will see their homes “comfortable,” “fun,” or “warm.” People indirectly believe that work-from-home is easier than traditional jobs when it’s quite the opposite.

A real job requires formality and alertness. But at home, people used to take it easy as a casual hobby. They live in their comfort zone, fall for distractions, and lower their guard, and that’s when scammers attack.

#4 Traditional Work Mentality

In a normal job, employees get paid for doing what their superiors told them to do. They rarely need to question whether what they did was valuable or not.

In online agencies and businesses, clients pay for results. There’s no step-by-step list to make money in X days like scammers want to make you believe.

These four traps led people to trust their financial future to the wrong people. 

Work-From-Home Job Red Flags

It only takes a bit of research to find out scams. Nothing makes sense: the interview, the job description, the payment, the recruiter, the testimonials, not even the qualification. You don’t know who you’re helping, why you’re important, nor how they pay you.

#1 Shallow Directions

If you go to the mainstream freelance platforms, it won’t take long before you find some of these:

“We need a highly motivated and experienced team to work on various extensions to increase skills and exposure.”

“Looking for help with SEO for some of our websites.”

“I’m looking for a professional writer who can give a perfect 300 words review for a software company.”

“Get paid to collect data from these websites.”

You can’t find the people you need with superficial descriptions. Clients don’t have time to go through hundreds of proposals, so why do they write like that?

If the job idea is incomplete or too abstract, there is a possibility that the job doesn’t really exist.

#2 No Recruiter Profile

Someone contacts you to do some writing, some data entry jobs, fund management, or virtual assistance. They promise to pay well, do you expect them to be a large, legit company. Only a big brand would have an interest in outsourcing micro-tasks.

You may get the gig, but that doesn’t guarantee you’ll get paid. Who is promising you money? Browse those names on websites like Linkedin. Even the least known executives appear in recruiting sites. If you can’t find any faces in the company, don’t be surprised if the job neither exists. 

Now, how do you know they are who they claim to be? Simple: if they reached out on email, use SalesQL for their Linkedin profile. This chrome extension shows you people’s emails and contact information. 

If those addresses don’t match with the one that messaged you, it’s an imposter.

#3 Simplistic Interviews

In work-from-home scams, meetings have nothing to do with normal job interviews. All you’d do is contacting a person via text message or social media, fill up a form, and agree with the instructions. No more verification steps involved. Nobody cares about your work experience or questions.

Yes, you’ll be getting paid from someone you never met in person, whose profile image is likely fake. Hence the messaging instead of video calls.

In the interview, nobody cares who you are, because anyone can do the job. 

#4 No Entry Barrier

Talking of qualification, do you remember what they required to apply for the job? They may look for people living in the US, or you need to follow registration steps on their website.

The difference between another applicant and you are none. How is it possible that you’re getting such a good opportunity? If all you need to qualify is a credit card, your suspicions are right.

These (fraudulent) agencies will be paying strangers. They’d need some minimum requirements to make sure they qualify the right people instead of an average Joe. If there’s no entry barrier, there may not be a job after all.

#5 Time-Pressure Tactics

It’s funny how they pressure you for a service that you’re supposed to provide. They’ll make an exclusive offer for the first twenty people that sign up, or the ones who do within the first day. Yes, there’re registration fees. And yes, there are further costs, depending on how “serious” you are with the job. 

They use sales tactics, you buy, but the job interview never passes from the testing state. So far, you’ve been just another client who bought a useless package. 

Recruiting done well takes time, usually months. Why set an eight-hour countdown? 

#6 Unusual Payment Terms

Now that you’ve earned that money with hard work, you deserve compensation. Most companies default to two or three payment methods to avoid complexity. Having options helps in case the worker can’t accept the primary method.

A person who wants to con via payment fraud will offer a single payment option. What if they send you a (fake) check?

As for payment terms, how often do they send you money? If it’s less often than once a month, they may not want to pay you at all. If they send you money way too often as a “fund manager,” they could be trying to launder money.

99% of the time, they just send you nothing. 

#7 No Feedback

There may be some reviews for the agency, but you don’t know what to expect. Nobody can show you stories of past workers who started just like you, nor how they ended up.

You’ll likely find not-verified positive testimonials, so you create the wrong expectations about the job. Reviews don’t necessarily show the truth.

As a large company, it’s suspicious that you can’t find anyone talking about them. The only place where they exist is on their website. 

Common Types Of Work-From-Home Job Scams

Scammers make you believe you’ll make money fast and easy. But instead, they’ll profit from you on unsuspected means: worthless products, faulty promises, pyramid-like schemes, or payment scams.

We’ll go from the “safest” to the riskiest:

#1 Illegal MLMs

As a network marketer, you need to promote the product to as many people as you can. What product? That’s the catch: there’s none.

It all started with:

“Would you like to make more money easy?”

“I make $10K per month, 100% passive. Here’s how.”

Unfortunately, it’s a scam. The seller gets money for selling something with no value. The client would have never bought if it wasn’t because of their promises.

In a pyramid scheme, you make money by recruiting people just like others did with you. Another way to see it is: they’ve scammed you. And the only way to make money is to scam someone else.

This structure creates three effects:

  • The leader’s inner circle gets exponentially wealthier
  • It reduces exponentially the income that new members generate
  • The pyramid leader scams exponentially more people, which is why they’re unsustainable

In these MLMs, an employer can guarantee you’ll make money (after you spend it on registration). But when? That remains a mystery.

Here’s our guide on affiliate marketing scams.

#2 Trading Jobs

Who doesn’t like to double money by pressing buttons, all from the comfort of your couch? You’ve seen daytraders on movies getting rich overnight. Could this one be your chance?

Unless you have an extensive background, trading jobs become another pay-to-work scheme, if you ever get your money back.

It’s a fun job, except when you lose money. The recruiter will give you insider information about what stocks to pick, so you work with him, analyzing prices and managing bets. 

More often than not, they get you deep into some securities scams: short-and-distort, pump-and-dump, worthless advisory, or bogus offerings.

#3 Selling Unnecessary Products & Services

We can’t tell whether it’s an actual scam or not, but it clearly deludes the buyer (like a confidence trick).

As a beginner, you’d like to make money online but don’t know how to start. Lucky you! A rescuer comes to help:

“I offer you a step-by-step program to turn newbies into business pros.”

“In this course, I share everything you need to know to make millions on this business model.”

The problem? They teach people what to think, not how to think. What’s the point of learning a method if you don’t know how to use it, why it works, or you use it at the wrong moment? Before you made a penny, you’ve already joined three premium programs.

Most information they share is right, although unessential. Tactics don’t get results, principles do. So even if you pay for someone to manage your work, that doesn’t guarantee results.

#4 Freelance Kits

9 of 10 businesses failed because there was no market need, or they lacked funding. A business needs money for salaries, equipment, product creation, and emergencies. Freelancers don’t.

Every day, countless remote workers make thousands of dollars without having ever invested money. That’s because their income depends on skills. If buying some kit makes you instantly qualified, it’s probably a scam.

Some packages help but aren’t 100% necessary. For example, someone could encourage you to spend $600 to promote yourself on Google before you earned anything. Wouldn’t it be better to scale after you have a constant work-flow? If you can’t get the job done without tools, people will neither pay you for having them.

Scammers like using technical niches as an excuse to sell you some overpriced kit. If you want to work from home, look somewhere else.

#5 Wrong Client Lists

“I’m such an expert at X skill. How can I have no clients?”

Even if you offer free services, it still requires intensive promotion. Finding your clients can take weeks of rejection at first, but it’s always worth it. As you build trust, it becomes easier.

Lead generation scammers want to make you believe that somehow you can skip that process. “If I find clients for you, you’ll have more time to work and generate income.”

Finding contacts takes a lot of time, so you buy them from this seller instead. You pay 100s of dollars of hundreds of cold leads that may not even qualify for your service. If you wrote to all of them, less than 50% would read it, and less than 10% will text back.

If the marketer barely made any questions about your work— or they sold you a recycled listing— don’t expect a positive return.

#6 Trial Projects

A con man promises you a permanent position as a high-paid worker for a simple task. But as you can imagine, the offer attracts a lot of people. How to make sure they’ll pick you? Test-projects and pay-to-work schemes.

You get into a fake macro contest where you compete with others and offer free work. You need to share an extensive sample to get considered, and then do some exemplary work to outcompete the finalists.

The scammer who has no intention to hire is getting dozens of free masterpieces. You may also pay a registration fee only to get a chance— not a guarantee— to land an interview.

#7 Virtual Assistant For Moving Money

So far, we’ve shown techniques to disguise scams as jobs. Funds management is one of the few job scams where you get paid. At least, for a while. 

  1. Someone hires you as a virtual assistant to resend money for him. You act as a middleman between the sender and receiver and get paid for it. Why? 
  2. The scammer sends you the first check of, say, $1000. You can deduct an amount from that money to pay yourself, like 10%.
  3. You send $900 to the received and get paid $100. You enjoy your job until the bank revises the check a few weeks later.
  4. If the check is fake, it counts as if you never received $1000, but you still need to pay that amount. If you had previously $0, now you’d be $1000 in debt.
  5. The scammer will end the contract after sending you a few checks.

#8 Money Laundering Scams

Here’s yet another job as a fund manager, except that you can keep your money for longer this time. How long? Until the day law enforcement knocks at your door.

  1. Criminals hire you to launder their “drug money” and make it usable. It can earn you over $2,000 a month, also including jail time and fines if you get caught.
  2. You receive the money and wire it somewhere else. Now, you’ve linked that “drug money” to your identity.
  3. The criminal receives back the cleaned money and gives you an amount.

You made money! But now, you’re the criminal, and they are the innocent.

How To Prevent Work-From-Home Scams (And Get Real Gigs)

How to get work-from-home jobs without falling for scams? Complicated. A person who needs money becomes the scammer’s favorite target. Due to the many schemes in the make-money-online niche, you’ll need to be extra-cautions when taking opportunities.

At the same time, how do you know whether an opportunity is legit and not miss it? Let’s start with the only difference between scams and legit models.

#1 If it makes CENTS, it makes SENSE

MJ Demarco introduced the Productocracy in 2011 (see “The Millionaire Fastlane“). The same business principle helps to validate the work opportunities you get.

“A productocracy is what separates average, survive-the-month, zero-growth businesses who are ad dependent from ones who grow exponentially through an expansion loop or network effects.”

When it comes to work-from-home jobs, we use the CENTS Rule:

Control. Forget about money; who owns the asset? Depending on a single external source can instantly kill your income stream if anything goes wrong.

Entry. The perceived value clients will pay to work with you depends on your skill and how many people are doing it. If anybody can solve the problem, nobody will pay for it. The trap of easy creates a rat race where millions compete doing the same task. Paying an entry fee doesn’t count.

Need. How valuable is your work? If your skill involves making your clients money, then they won’t mind investing more on you. If you can’t figure out why they’re paying you (like the fund management examples), it’s a scam.

Time. How much time does it require? All jobs take time, but hacks can help you earn more with less. Those who charge ten times more aren’t necessarily ten times smarter/faster/better. If you’re starting a business, does your model work when you’re away? 

Scale. How many people are involved? How many does your work reach/impact?

#2 Know When To Build Trust, And When Not

Trust makes business possible, but trust can also lead to confidence tricks. For a relationship of trust, both people need to agree on a middle term among their interests.

Trust becomes an abstract factor when asking for unusual conditions:

  • “We don’t accept escrow. You should trust our method, which is an upfront wire transfer.”
  • “Your work doesn’t convince me. We’ll need more samples before I can trust you in this position.”
  • “I promise you’ll get paid later.”

Is the client trying to be cautious, or take advantage of the situation? Perhaps you believe they’re your only choice, but it won’t be worth it.

#3 Don’t get overconfident

When talking about money, people underestimate expenses and overestimate their income. That leads to constant pain due to having the wrong expectations.

Those who want to sell your services will show exceptional case studies to impress you. However, you’ll learn much more if you hedge your bets rather than look for the exceptions to the rule.

Forget about the salesman’s promises. In a sales pitch, ask yourself: 

  • What is the most conservative best-case scenario? Is it achievable?
  • What’s the most extreme worst-case scenario? Can I deal with it?

#4 Avoid Desperation

If you never made work from home, it can look challenging to make your first dollar. Although the first time always takes more effort, you shouldn’t look at each opportunity as if it were the last.

It’s a common mistake to stick to a single source only because it’s the only thing you know. Scammers make you think they’re your only chance to make it.

Meanwhile, there’re far better opportunities somewhere else. If you find the scam red flags, don’t lie to yourself by saying: “this time is different.” The opportunity you protect may not exist.

#5 If it doesn’t feel right, don’t do it.

Your intuition examines the tiny details before making conclusions: 

  • What’s the tone of the marketer?
  • What are their intentions?
  • What words do they use?
  • Is it easier to say “Yes than No to the offer?
  • Who else can verify it?

When you haven’t had time to research, these little questions can put you on the right path. If the answers make you feel “weird,” decline the offer.

Wrapping Up: Work From Home The Right Way

Work-from-home shouldn’t be as hard as they picture it. Depending on your money and time, you’d choose one method or another:

A. An online business. Ideally, you have enough money to invest in a business that makes money while you sleep. Follow the productocracy and with preparation, you can succeed within a few years.

B. Freelancing. Independent contractors work to get results. If you have no money, use your time to develop and sell a high-demand skill. Think of copywriting, coding, designing, public speaking, consulting.

C. Arbitrage. If you have no resources, you can become a middleman. In this job, you’d browse for deal pages to find underpriced goods and services, then sell them at standard prices. For example, you could find products on Walmart and sell them on Amazon. Or publish audiobooks on ACX by hiring Fiverr voice actors.

In the worst case, you can still sell the things you don’t use and pocket several hundred.

What matters is building skills, whether it’s product research, SEO, coding, or sales funnels. If you invest in yourself, you can work as much as you want, anywhere, anytime.

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Steve T.
Steve T.

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Tuhin Ray
Tuhin Ray

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DEEPAK

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lim

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onyema

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