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Work from home scams

What are work from home scams?

Work-from-home scams are often conducted through spam emails, or advertisements on noticeboards. Most of these ads are not real job offers. Many of them are actually fronts for a money-laundering scam, an upfront payment scam or a pyramid scheme.

You might receive an email offering a job where you use your bank account to receive and pass on payments for a foreign company. These ‘job offers’ promise that you will receive a percentage commission for each payment you pass on. Transferring money for someone might be money laundering and you could wind up in trouble yourself for taking part in these ‘jobs’. Sometimes, these scammers are just after your bank account details so they can clear out your account.

You might also be offered a ‘job’ doing something like stuffing envelopes or promotions. You will be required to pay for a starter kit or some other product before you can get started. However, once the money is paid, you may receive nothing at all, or what you do receive could just be instructions for conning other people into joining the same scheme.

Another type of work from home scam involves a job putting together or assembling a product using materials that you have to buy from the ‘employer’. After they pocket the money you pay for materials, they may refuse to pay you for some or all of you work because they claim it is not of a high quality.

Warning signs

  • You receive a job offer claiming that you can make a lot of money with little effort by using your home computer.
  • You receive an offer for a work from home job that requires you to pay a registration fee or to send your home address for more information.
  • You receive information about a job which only requires you to transfer money for someone else.

Protect yourself against work from home scams

  • Remember there are no get-rich-quick schemes: the only people who make money are the scammers.
  • Beware of products or schemes that claim to guarantee income or winnings.
  • Beware of job offers that require you to pay an upfront fee.
  • Money laundering is a criminal offence: do not agree to transfer money for someone else.
  • NEVER send money, or give credit card or online account details to anyone you do not know and trust.
  • Do not open suspicious or unsolicited emails (spam): delete them.

As well as following these specific tips, find out how to protect yourself from all sorts of other scams.

Do your homework

Before you respond to a job advertisement, try to find out if the company is reputable and well-known. If the job offer involves transferring money for someone else, ask yourself if you really want to get involved in something that is likely to be money-laundering and is likely to attract police attention.

You should check with your local fair trading agency for information to help you decide if the offer is legitimate. Always check whether there are any special legal requirements, such as licences, or other constraints on working from home. If the job on offer involves making or selling a certain type of product or service, find out if there really is a market for it. Also ask yourself if the amount of any fees or other upfront costs seems excessive. Always ask for an offer in writing. If it is a legitimate job offer there won’t be a problem with you getting advice before signing a contract.

Another way of figuring out if the company or job is real is to ask for references from other people who have done the work and make the effort to speak to these people. You should also check if the company has a refund or buy back policy if you are required to purchase anything up-front.


Remember that most people find it difficult to make lots of money working from home, despite whatever promises are made. Make sure you have given a lot of thought to the issue before signing up or sending a payment off for a work from home opportunity.

NEVER reply to an unsolicited or spam email as this may encourage further contact from spammers.

Report them

If you have received a work from home offer that you think may be a scam, or if you have responded to a job advertisement that you now realise is a scam, you can report a scam through the SCAMwatch website. You should also spread the word to your friends, family and colleagues to protect them.


What to do if you've been scammed; Scams & the law; Report a scam.

Similar scams:

Scammers ‘guarantee’ you a job or certain level of income, tricking you into paying an up-front fee for a ‘business plan’ or materials.

There are a range of scams marketed as business opportunities. They promise success but usually only the promoter makes any money.

If you agree to transfer money for someone you don’t know, you let scammers use your bank account to ‘launder’ their dirty money. This puts you and your money in the firing line.

Phishing emails are fake emails usually pretending to be from banks or other financial institutions. They make up some reason for you to give your account details and then use these details to steal your money.

You are promised huge rewards if you help someone transfer money out of their country by paying fees or giving them your bank account details.

High-pressure sales in high-risk investment strategies. Scammers profit through attendance fees and by selling property and investments at inflated prices.

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