Internet Fraud and Work-at-Home Scams

Internet Fraud and Work-at-Home Scams

Consumer scams are not new.

As an example, in the 1920’s, the Ponzi scheme (bogus investment swindle) was a notorious way to bilk individuals from their savings.  However, the idea of that specific scam goes back earlier, to 1857, when Charles Dickens described it in his novel Little Dorrit. The recent example of Bernie Madoff, operator of the largest Ponzi scheme in history, is testament that old ideas can be given a fresh suit to steal from people anew.

Of course criminal behavior goes back much earlier than Charles Dickens depicts. One of the Ten Commandments (“You shall not steal”) is indicative of how long criminal acts have been problematic to Mankind.

Nowadays, a modern way for criminals to put on a new suit is by cloaking themselves behind the Internet.

Examples of Internet Scams and Fraud

The list of ways that theft is perpetrated via the Internet is seemingly endless.

The FBI maintains a website resource of Internet Fraud and how to avoid such.  The FBI notes that the most common categories of Internet fraud include:

  • Internet auction fraud
  • Non-delivery of merchandise purchased from websites
  • Credit card fraud
  • Investment fraud
  • Business fraud
  • Nigerian Letter Fraud

That last is so well known as an example of Internet fraud that the FBI lists it on the same page as its own singular category. Although it has been bilking individuals of their savings “online” since the 1990’s, the scam goes back decades earlier in the form of direct mail and faxes. (For more info, click here for the Nigerian email scam.)

Work-at-Home Scams

Due to the recession and a demand for new income sources, “work-at-home” scams have seen substantial rises in activity. The following article and video from the ABC NEWS Business Unit, Google Sues to Stop Work-From-Home Scams, highlights a number of such scams, including the widely propagated Google work-at-home scam, which includes “fake news articles, fake news blogs and fake testimonials to promote their services and direct them to credit card processing sites like the one run by Pacific WebWorks, Google said.”

Furthermore, the article states “Google is warning customers to be wary of the following work-from-home promotions: Google Adwork, Google ATM, Google Biz Kit, Google Cash, Earn Google Cash Kit, Google Fortune, Google Marketing Kit, Google Profits, The Home Business Kit for Google, Google StartUp Kit, and Google Works.”

Protect Yourself from Internet Scams

Internet fraud is common. And even though “auction fraud” is one category listed by the FBI, the vast majority of purchases made via auction sites, such as eBay, are fairly transacted.  In other words only a small percentage are fraudulent.  The same is true for business fraud and online credit card transactions in general: the vast majority of purchases made over the Internet are transacted fairly.

On the other hand, work-at-home opportunities are particularly prone to fraud. According to the ABC video (link above) 54 out of 55 such work-at-home opportunities are scams.  That means any time you see an advertisement for some work-at-home “opportunity,” there is a very high likelihood that its sole intent is to scam you out of your money.

The US Justice Department lists a number of ways to avoid becoming defrauded, including:

  • Being Careful About Giving Out Valuable Personal Data Online
  • Being Especially Careful About Online Communications With Someone Who Conceals His True Identity
  • Watching Out for “Advance-Fee” Demands

For more info on protecting yourself from Internet scams click on this link from the United States Department of Justice on Internet Fraud.

4 thoughts on “Internet Fraud and Work-at-Home Scams”

  1. It doesn’t feel good that there are people who are taking advantage of others. I can say that they are smart people because they arrived with great ideas of fooling people but I just hope that instead of using it to gain their own interests, they use it in more upright matters.

  2. Geoffrey Andersen

    Yes, don’t be so trusting to the people you does not know. Never give out personal information and make sure that you’re dealing only with respectable people or firm online. As a precaution, you can check their profiles or reviews through the internet. There might have been other would-be victims and not just you!

  3. I freelance on the weekends or when I’m bored from school, it’s become some kind of hobby and a distraction from going out and getting stoned from all the booze, plus I earn extra. I’m a student and somehow this article makes much sense for me; it’s very relevant too.
    Since I’ve made this whole working at home set up as a hobby, I’ve been looking at all prospects. I haven’t been scammed, I still fear it despite it never happening to me. You’ll never know right?
    But yeah, definitely the rule of the thumb here is ‘If it’s too good to be true, it isn’t.’
    It’s not just Nigerian letters you’ll be getting in your spam/inbox! You can also get letters from citizens ‘supposedly’ from West Asian countries and Egypt! Heck I’ve even got one from the USA claiming stuff about help me through a transaction/your folks died.
    Too bad, it’s gotten so easy to get away with things online. Internet laws should be made stricter to move on a faster beat to catch these crooks.

  4. HallowedCacophony

    I’ve had a friend who had a boss who ran off with her written articles without paying. No matter how hard she tried to contact them, they would not reply to her since she was already asking them to pay her for her services after repeated ‘expect it later on’.
    And that’s not just in freelance writing, it also happens in every other internet/home based job too. Though I’m not so sure about the frequency elsewhere since I’m a writer.
    At any rate, when you’re online, the lack of serious law enforcement is a blur, it makes the net both a safe and very unsafe world to be.
    Giving out personal info and working—avoiding to get scammed and stolen from: it takes some good gut feel and being sensitive to getting ‘signs’ where you just feel something’s off. Though at times it can be pretty hard to do so.
    Do you have plans to expand on the article’s contents into several other articles which can prove to be just as insightful? That would be wonderful.

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