Work from Home Scams List – 20+ Scams to Avoid Like the Plague!
If you are looking for work that can be done from home but want to avoid the scams, which I imagine you do, then you are in the right place.
In this work from home scams list I will be going over a handful of scams I have either come across personally over the years as well as some other popular ones worthy of attention.
But first... let's take a look at the definition of a scam, which according to Google is "a dishonest scheme; a fraud"...
This is a pretty vague definition, which is the point of me bringing it up. What one person deems dishonest another may seem as being just a sleight of the tongue.
One person may see the overly-salesy salesman as a scammer while another may just see him as something doing his job.
So with this in mind, these scams in this list are largely based on my opinion... but I believe that any reasonable person would also see them as being such.
Mega-List of 22 Disgusting Work from Home Scams You Need to Avoid
1. "Link Posting" Scams
"Link posting" scams are very common. They lure people in with the hopes of making easy money just posting links for companies.
These scams are basically a spin-off of the legitimate opportunity called affiliate marketing, which is when you promote products for companies online via affiliate links and earn commissions, but they are completely fake. The reason the opportunity sounds so convincing is because they are loosely based on a real opportunity.
A common type of these scams floating around the internet presents itself like this...
There are many variations, and they certainly aren't limited to this exact type, but this is commonly seen... and the way they scam people is by presenting the opportunity to make easy money posting links and then pushing unsuspecting individuals to purchase some sort of training package to get going, which includes outdated and pretty much useless training.
2. Paid Survey Scams
There are legitimate paid survey sites out there like Swagbucks, Inbox Dollars, etc... these sites will pay you small amounts of money to share your opinion. However, there are also scams.
Survey Voices and Survey Sheep are two that come to mind.
Survey opportunities like this are sometimes presented as ways to make large amounts of easy money, such as up to $300, but are entirely different then they first appear.
At first glance they may seem like they are the ones that will be paying you, but in reality they just push people to join other paid survey sites and earn referral bonuses for doing so. Rather than actually being survey opportunities they just push you to join other survey opportunities.
3. Fake Worksheet Processor Jobs
Worksheet processing jobs are another fake opportunity that we have seen pop up quite a bit recently. They are presented as easy ways to earn money by just filling out worksheets, a type of data entry job.
Of course there are plenty of real and legitimate data entry jobs out there, but be careful what you get involved with.
It seems that the opportunity to process worksheets to help people claim "unclaimed money" is pretty popular, such as that presented with UBA Tracers...
This particular scam provides training to new worksheet processors and everything, but requires them to pay for their worksheets, which they are supposed to get paid for completing. But of course this never actually happens.
4. "Push Button" & "Done-For-You" Scams
There is a romantic idea that one can make heaps of cash online with just the push of a button. And while it is true that many of the processes involved with making money online can be automated, a real, fully "push-button" system is far from being realistic.
Yet, these "push button", "done-for-you" scams are some of the most common out there and scam many.
If you ever come across an opportunity where you are told that the creators have already done everything for you, such as they already "set up your money making account" or they already "built your money making website" then it's probably best to run for the hills.
As an example, the DMM System is one of these scams...
Money Sucking Websites is another popular scam of these sorts that continues to evolve... which is presented as a way to "earn $500 per day just by pressing a button"...
5. Fake Sweepstakes Opportunities
While you wouldn't normally think of an opportunity to win sweepstakes as "job", some of these are presented as ways to earn very high amounts of income, which may lead one to believe it could replace a job.
These are extremely common and very easy for scammers to set up. All you usually have to do is enter your email address and maybe a phone number to get a chance to win the prize, such as up to $1,000,000 like that shown on the scammy WinLoot website...
Then of course you either never win or you do win and it's impossible to actually get the money.
One of the scams is that they steal your contact information and then sell it online... so be prepared to be bombarded with spam emails and phone calls if you sign up for one of these fake sweepstakes competitions.
Another type of sweepstakes scam is that of check cashing, which I'll talk more about in a bit. This is when they send out a fake check in the mail.
6. MLM Opportunities
Mary Kay, Herbalife, Amway, Younique, HempWorx, etc... these are all large MLM companies. But although failure rates with MLMs are extremely high, and pretty much guaranteed to be that way because of their pyramid multi-level marketing structure... these are not scams.
The scam MLM opportunities that I'm talking about in particular here are those that are presented as real, normal, salary jobs. This is usually due to representatives of the MLMs trying to recruit in new reps by posting job opportunities on Craigslist, and other sites.
MLMs aren't my cup of tea by any means, but they can be legitimate companies... but when reps present the opportunities in a misleading way just to recruit in other reps... this is scammy.
7. Pyramid Schemes
A close relative of the MLM opportunity is the pyramid scheme... and this is its illegal cousin.
Pyramid schemes are often disguised as MLMs to keep from being shut down by governments for legal reasons... and the difference is that legitimate MLMs sell real products to consumers while pyramid schemes rely overwhelmingly on new recruits... whom are often forced to purchase products.
Both can sell products... but the pyramid scheme relies almost solely on new recruits rather than sales to real customers.
You have to avoid these. They are guaranteed to fail based on their structure and only a very small percentage of people at the top stand a chance of making good money.
8. Cash Gifting
Cash gifting is a very luring scam due to it's potential of making easy money fast... and the fact that these schemes are thought to be legal.
BUT... while giving and receiving large cash gifts is completely legal... it becomes illegal when built into some sort of money-making recruitment scheme, which often times falls into the category of being a pyramid scheme.
For example, the common cash-gifting scheme requires participants to send cash gifts in order to qualify, with the hope of earning large amounts of money getting others to join and send them cash gifts. This is illegal.
*There is a good article on wikiHow that explains how you can send cash gifts legally. But this doesn't include any of the work from home schemes that exist in this area.
9. Fake Social Media Influencer Jobs
These scams have become increasingly popular, which probably means that they have been very successful with scamming people. They have become so popular that I found it reasonable to write a post warning about these influencer scams.
The lure is that you can make very easy money by being an "influencer" on social media... and the job consists of promoting the opportunity by referring others to make easy money... and lots of it.
Paid 4 Clout, Kids Earn Cash, and many other similar variations are some examples...
These sites trick people into referring friends in the hopes of making money, yet they never pay. And they also provide a bunch of promotional offers, such as the chance to make money taking surveys or the chance to win $100 gift cards... but these are usually fake offers too... just a way for them to make money getting you to sign up for things.
10. Affiliate System Scams
You also have to watch out for the pre-made affiliate systems that are out there. You can make money with these, and they may not be entirely "scams", but they certainly can be misleading.
What I'm talking about are sales funnel systems that lure people in and then push them to go out and promote the same system to other people.
Usually they are promoted as some "secret" system or formula that someone created for making money, such as that shown here with the Secret Income Formula...
These are basically one big cycle of people buying into a system and then getting others to buy in, earning affiliate commissions each time they get someone to buy in.
Scam or not? You decide.
11. Ecommerce Job Scams
And then there are the ecommerce-type job scams.
In particular, what I'm talking about here are the opportunities presented as ways to make big money with your own ecommerce business.
At the top of scammy ecommerce systems I would rank MyEcomClub, which has been promoted in a number of extremely deceptive and misleading ways, such as that shown below of there being some "mobile money" loophole that anyone can tap into to create a "secret income stream"...
There have been many scammy promotions for this and it is by no means the only ecommerce opportunity scam out there.
How these work is like this: They lure in people with the hopes and dreams of making boatloads of money with their own ecommerce businesses. But first what they have to buy into is the training and tools to be able to create such businesses... and of course actually being successful with this is something that is much more difficult than it is promoted as being... and much different in general.
The promotions can be incredibly misleading for some, but know that not all ecommerce training courses are scams by any means.
12. Automated Trading Software Scams
Automated trading scams are fairly common to come across as well. These opportunities are presented as ways to invest a small amount of money and make huge returns using some sort of automated trading system for free. The minimum investment is almost always $250 and you will likely never see that money again.
These scams always exploit popular new trends, such as that shown here that was called Banking on Blockchain and was supposedly a trading system that would make investors tons of money by trading Bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies...
There have been similar scams claiming to trade at extremely high win percentages in the area of marijuana stocks, and many other areas, even trading Netflix stocks of all things...
The scammers behind these will try to exploit any opportunity and nothing is off-limits.
They direct investors to unregulated brokers and receive commission kickbacks for luring them in.
Any automated trading system that has a 90%+ win rate and is promoted as being free to use is definitely a scam.
13. The Fake "Ad Flipping" Opportunity
There is another category of scams going around called "ad flipping". The idea is that you can make a ton of easy money by buying banner ads at low prices and then selling them if they do well and increase in price. So for example, you could buy a banner ad for a new pair of Nike shoes early on, and then the ad may do very well and the shoes may become very popular, allowing you to "flip" it for high earnings.
Of course they tell prospects that they can use their super awesome "ad flipping" system for free, which has a 98% win rate of course, but the problem is that you first have to invest money ($250 min) to get started... because the system needs to buy ads first, then flip them. This is similar to the trading system scams.
It's all an elaborate made-up scam and there are plenty to go around. FreeAdCashSystem is just one of many...
And Daily Banner Profits was another that was heavily promoted for quite some time...
14. Misleading Online Gaming Job Opportunities
Would you like to make money playing games online? And possibly enough to even live off of?
Wouldn't we all?
There are real ways to make money playing games online, such as testing out new games, but these opportunities are often promoted in incredibly deceptive ways.
There have been some promotions for scammy programs like Gaming Jobs Online that claims "YOU TOO can easily make an average of $39,063 a year" as a video game tester...
BUT... of course here they wanted people to buy their training program to learn how to do it.
15. Fake Job Agencies
Fake job agencies also exist to lure people into scam opportunities, often in the "work-from-home" area.
If you are contacted by a job agency and something seems a bit strange, such as maybe they talk about how much money you will be able to make, always look into things.
Look for their credentials and maybe do a quick Google search.
Fake job agencies often contact people with emails saying that "Hey, we've received your application" when really an application was never submitted in the first place.
16. Job Board Scams
There are tons of job-boards out there that help job seekers search for open positions in various fields... but sometimes even these sites are fake.
For example, there is the "Get Customer Service Jobs" job board (and other variations) that seem to promote misleading or fake job opportunities. This particular one I came across having misleading promotions for the Harvard Risk Management Corporation work-from-home opportunity.
*Note: But also be careful with the legitimate job boards. They do a good job at keeping scam job postings off their sites, but sometimes they slip through the cracks.
17. Check Cashing Job Scams
Check cashing scams are a sneaky type of scam that fortunately are being avoided more and more these days, due to increased attention from governments and other organizations.
In a check cashing scam the victim is asked to cash a check, which looks real and is supposed to be real, but is fake. In a well run scam of this kind the check will be such a good fake that the victim's bank will take it and it won't be until later that they realize it is fake. However, at this time the scam is already complete... the victims will have been asked to wire transfer money immediately after cashing the check.
Check cashing scams come in many forms, which just a couple examples including...
- Mystery shopping jobs - Some scam mystery shopping opportunities will send you a hefty check in the mail to cover the costs of the shopping gig you completed. What you are supposed to do is cash the check, take enough to cover your expenses, and then send the extra money back via wire transfer. But... of course it is fake.
- Lottery/sweepstakes scams - They claim "You've Won!". Then you get sent a check and the scammer claims the amount, for tax reasons, needs to be sent in. The check however is a fake.
18. Package Processing/Reshipping/Forwarding Scams
Package processing/shipping scams can turn out pretty bad... because you can get in trouble legally. And, these are fairly popular, enough so that law firms like BUKH Law Firm in New York are advertising their reshipping scam defense lawyer services.
These opportunities are presented as jobs where you will receive packages and reship them elsewhere.
Sounds a bit strange... I mean... why can't they just ship them to the destination to begin with, right? But it sounds easy, so a lot of people go for them.
BUT... what often happens in these scams is the transport of illegal or stolen goods. The people running the reshipping schemes don't want to get caught so they hire other unsuspecting and innocent individuals to do it for them... and you can get in trouble with the law.
Often times the scammers will place orders online with stolen credit cards and have them shipped to the innocent reshipper, who will be asked to forward them to some PO box oversees or something like this... often untraceable back to the scammer orchestrating the whole thing.
19. Envelope Stuffing
There are legitimate envelope stuffing jobs that exist... but also a lot of fake opportunities, so much so that the FTC even warns about them.
Here people are lured in with the hopes of making very easy money by simply preparing mailings, which may also involve sealing the envelopes and paying postage.
Sounds easy, and it is easy, but the catch is that you have to pay a small fee for materials and whatnot. However, it is still luring because this fee is nothing compared to the income they claim you will be able to make.
So, in a nutshell, you pay for supplies to stuff envelopes and the whole operation is completely unnecessary and fake... so you never get paid for your work.
20. Fake Assembly Jobs
These go hand-in-hand with the envelope stuffing jobs. Here people are told that they can get paid to assemble products to sell, but first they will be required to purchase a start-up kit of some kind.
In the end, no money will be made.
21. The Popular "You Will Need These Training Materials" Scam
It makes sense that with a work at home job opportunity you might need training materials. After all, you will be staying at home so there will be no one to train you in-person.
What makes these opportunities even more convincing is the fact that legitimate MLM opportunities often require the purchase of some sort of starter kit, which includes training materials.
With the fake jobs you will likely receive nothing after making the purchase, and, even if you do receive something it will be a waste of time.
Sometimes these scams, even more confusingly, are like an added layer over top of a legitimate work-at-home job opportunity. For example, the Postal Job Source scam that I exposed was presented as a way to get a job with the USPS, and seemed like it was actually a staffing agency of the USPS. However, it was really just some dumb program trying to sell people "registration packages" that would provide some training that could hopefully increase their chances of landing a job with the USPS but was not affiliated with them in any way... very misleading.
They come in many different forms.
22. Mystery Shopping Frauds
Besides the mystery shopping scams that sucker people out of their money by getting them to cash fake checks, they also come in other forms.
Similar to the scams mentioned above, some fake mystery shopping gigs will require that you pay a fee to get access to their database of shopping companies and other (supposedly) important information.
However, legitimate mystery shopping jobs are listed for free as well as companies that hire mystery shoppers. There is no need to pay for such information.
Tips to Avoid The Scams & Stay Safe
Avoiding scams can be difficult. They continue to evolve and scammers will try to scam people in just about any way possible.
The best scams are build around some sort of real, legitimate business opportunity... which makes them all the more convincing.
If something sounds too good to be true then...
If there was only one piece of advice I could give it would be to follow the old saying: "if something sounds too good to be true then it probably is".
The promise of good pay and easy work can be very tempting, but in the real-world opportunities like this are rare. So don't jump in on something without doing your homework.
As a rule of thumb..
As a rule of thumb, a very general rule of thumb, you shouldn't need to pay to get started with a job opportunity.
This is especially true when you will be working for a company. However, it is less true with freelance work where you have to train yourself, buy your own materials, and things like this. In freelance you are on your own.
The work-from-home opportunity I've been with for over 3 years..
If a freelance type of work at home opportunity interests you then I highly suggest taking a look at the guide I put together that details exactly what I do and how complete newbies can get started.
Just know that, because this is freelance, it takes time to get going and you aren't guaranteed a certain amount of pay. It is commission based, which I like because of the potential and freedom, but it has some downsides.
If interested, you can find out more here.
Anyways... I hope you've found this article helpful. Be sure to leave any comments or questions below. I like to hear back from my readers 🙂