Thursday, August 09, 2007

Here's an example of the kind of "work at home" scam I've run across in my online job search. I've never bought into any of these things, but that's largely because I've done a lot of research on anti-scam sites BEFORE actually applying for anything.

On (from whose classified ads I've gotten a few legit interviews, so it's certainly not all hogwash over there), I responded to an ad entitled "Clerical/Data Entry Position".

In the ad itself, information regarding the job was limited. The job details involved processing orders received via email, for pay, and it was an entirely work-at-home position. The ad instructed interested parties to send an email requesting additional information.

This is always the first sign that there's likely to be a scam afoot. Craigslist has banned scammers from placing their false advertising, and will remove any ads inviting people to join what are essentially pyramid schemes or outright swindles. HOWEVER, if the ad contains minimal information and tells the responder to REQUEST the details, then no one can prove that it's a scam and the ad is allowed to stand. So caveat emptor: if the advertisor seems to be downright secretive about this job opportunity, there's a reason for it.

But, for kicks, I responded to the ad anyway. I have two email addresses that I use for job searching. One is for the opportunities that I'm positive are legit openings; the other one is what I use when I'm suspicious that the "job" will be a disappointment at best, and flat-out shady at worst, once I've received more complete details. I used the latter address to answer this ad.

And here, for your entertainment, is the response I got, interspersed with my commentary.

Thank you for your interest in the Processor/Typist position. Here is some more information about the job…

Job Description
>Work at home part-time or full-time
>Earn $250 - $1000 per week
>Full online training
>Completely Legit
>Work your own hours and days

The monetary promise above is exactly the kind of thing that would have gotten this post flagged and removed from Craigslist, had the ad contained the above information. It's false advertising to claim that the person will receive this kind of income when they're essentially dependent on the number of orders they receive, and there's no way to control that.

Oh, and of course, stating "Completely Legit" automatically absolves the poster from any suspicion. Just like the ads out there that say "This is not a pyramid scheme" automatically make the thing they're advertising not be a pyramid scheme. All you have to do is declare something in print, and it's instantly true. Yeah, right.

>Computer with Internet and E-mail access
>Good typing skills
>Basic Internet knowledge

This home based position is a great opportunity for stay at home moms/dads, students, or anyone who wants to work in the comfort of their own home. There is no cold calling (calling strangers) required. You respond to orders sent to your e-mail and process them at your convenience.

And you do have to be self-motivated, because as it turns out, you'll be completely responsible for getting your own name out there so people will send their orders to YOU.

This home based position gives you the opportunity to earn $250 - $1000 per week. We are seeking only self-motivated people with the desire to work in this field. No experience needed.You must have a computer with Internet access, a dedicated e-mail account, and basic typing skills. You can choose to work full-time or part-time and can choose to work the hours of your choice.You do not have to contact anyone. You will be processing responses from the ads, which will be explained to you in your training materials. Everything is sent to your e-mail account. There is no contract to sign—the amount that you choose to process is entirely up to you. As with any job, you must be willing to work hard and try to respond to the orders in a timely manner.

PLEASE BE ADVISED, this job is not for you if you do not wish to be your own boss, work from home and at your own convenience, and make money for tasks that you accomplish. This position is very much self-driven and task oriented.

Bingo... "you will be processing responses from the ads, which will be explained to you in your training materials". The so-called training materials are going to tell you to place ads on as many free classified sites as possible, in order to maximize the number of responses you receive.

You will be paid from $10.00 - $20.00 for each order that you process. For example, if you process 35 in a week, you make $350 - $700 weekly. The average person makes $600 per week. The amount of money you earn is entirely up to you. You will be responsible for keeping track of your earnings for tax time, as we do not take out any taxes or provide you with a 1099 form.

As a matter of fact, if you follow the formula detailed later in this very email, you will receive approximately $15 for each order that you process. And the reason that "we" don't take out any taxes or provide a 1099 form is that once you've received the training package, "we" never need to interact with you again. You're on your own.

The training materials you receive will give you step-by-step instructions on how to get started. When you receive your training materials you may begin working on that same day. There is no special software required for this position. If there are any questions on the training materials, please contact me.

The training materials, such as they are, will give you a template for the ad you're going to be placing on all these free sites. They'll also most likely provide a list of online sites where you can post free classified ads, though it's anybody's guess if the information is current or outdated.

Method of Payment
You will receive your payment through PayPal. You are not going to be paid weekly; you will be paid for each application that you process.

And THIS is why "we" don't take out taxes for you. The money isn't coming from "us", but from the people who send in responses to the ads.

There is a ONE-TIME non-refundable fee of $15.00. This cost will cover the training materials sent to you. Once you process your very first application, you will have made back this fee!! I processed 7 orders on my first day. One of my partners had 11 on her first day and by the end of the week, she could have processed 46 orders. Some start-up fees are as high as $30.00 or more. We have tried to keep our fee low. Please understand that as much as I would like not to charge this small processing fee, we must protect ourselves from those who are not serious about this work. Be assured that you will recover this fee after processing your first order. The Training Materials will automatically be sent to your e-mail after your payment is received. You can then get started right away.

If you do not have a PayPal account, you may go to to open a free account, so you can get paid for your work and purchase your materials. You may use me as a reference.

I repeat, BINGO. This is where the money comes from. The people who respond to your ad are going to get a form letter like the one I'm quoting. The letter will ask for this "one-time fee" to be sent to your paypal account. Therefore, you will earn "between $10-$20" for every order you process. The actual amount will be $15, minus the paypal fees.

I mean, THINK about it. The fee is allegedly to "cover the cost of the training materials"? Hello? They're sending the materials via email! WHAT "cost"? There's no expense for paper, printing, or postage!

Please e-mail me as soon as you make your payment via PayPal so I can expedite materials to you. The payment at PayPal for $15 goes to [removed].

Thank you and I truly hope you join our team! Again, if you have any questions at all, please e-mail me.

[signature removed]

"Our team"? What team? You send money, you get training info mailed to you, you start placing ads. You're flying solo once the money leaves your paypal account. But I suppose that last paragraph sounds better than, "I truly hope you send me money to cover the cost of the training materials that I purchased from someone else who placed an ad just like this one. If at least one person answers my ad, I'll break even. Will YOU be that person?"

**The legal part of this is:
This concept is 100% legal. Refer to US Postal and Lottery Laws, Title 18,
Section 1302 and 1341; or Title 18, Section 3005 in the US code, also in the
code of Federal Regulations, Volume 16, Sections 255 and 436, which states
that a product or service must be exchanged for money received.

What's interesting is that those laws are actually available online, for anyone who actually DOES care to review them (instead of just relying on this person's word regarding what they say). And, as per the anti-scam site, Title 18, section 1302 &1341 of the US Postal and Lottery Laws actually states that chain letters (e-mail or otherwise) are illegal "if they request money or other items of value and promise a substantial return to the participants." Selling a report (which, coincidentally, is just more propaganda about the scheme) or adding respondents to a mythical mailing list do not make this thing legal. In other words, the laws that allegedly say this "order training materials, then sell them to other people" scheme is legal actually say no such thing.

Like I said, caveat freaking emptor. And don't get scammed out of your $15.

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