How to Identify Work-at-Home Scams

Work-at-home scams are disguised as legitimate home employment opportunities. They entice innocent victims into fraudulent schemes.

How Work-at-Home Scams Operate

Scammers recruit unsuspecting job seekers with fake employment ads.

After responding to the ad, the victims are often instructed to accept payments from clients, keep a portion as their salary, and transfer the remainder to an account established by the company.

The scammers are often organized crime groups, and the money involved has actually been stolen by phishing and identity theft.

The victims are called "mules" because they unwittingly transfer illegal funds.

Involvement in work-at-home scams like these could leave you in serious legal trouble.

A Step-by-Step Example of a Work-at-Home Scam

Work-at-Home. Process payments and make money in your spare time!

John is looking for part-time employment to make extra money for the holiday gift-giving season:

  1. John sees a work-at-home ad on an employment website, online chat or spam email. He submits his resume.
  2. Scammer contacts John through email or online chat. Offers him a job at Fake-International-Company.com processing payments from US clients.
  3. John accepts the job. He signs "employment contracts" and provides account information where the company's clients can send payments.
  4. "Payments," which are actually funds acquired through phishing and other fraud activity, are transferred to John's account.
  5. As instructed, John keeps a percentage of the payments as his compensation. He wires the remaining balance to Fake-International-Company's overseas account.
  6. Scammer receives stolen cash and the paper trail leads back to John, who has unwittingly acted as a money mule in this fraud scheme.
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It is illegal to act as a money mule.

When caught, mules often have their accounts suspended and may face criminal charges. Protect yourself by carefully researching work-at-home offers.

Another variation of this scam is for the victim to set up online banking and provide log-in credentials to the scammer to conduct payments and transfers. The scammer uses credentials to empty the bank accounts instead.

Protect Yourself

Learn how to recognize work-at-home scams. Their employment ads offer bold statements like:

  • "Earn thousands of dollars a month from your home!"
  • "Receive a payment from one of our clients and deduct 10%, which is yours to keep."
  • "Make a few hundred dollars a week by completing sales transactions."

Research the company. A legitimate work-at-home employer should describe—in writing—what's involved in their work.

Ask your prospective work-at-home employer the following questions:

  • What tasks will I have to perform?
  • What is every step of the job, from start to finish?
  • Will I be paid a salary, or will my pay be based on commission?
  • Who will pay me?
  • When will I get my first paycheck?
  • What is the total cost of the work-at-home program, including supplies, equipment and membership fees?
  • What will I get for my money?

Their answers may help you determine whether a work-at-home program is legitimate. If so, then you may choose whether it is appropriate for your circumstances.

If You Have Already Responded to a Suspicious Work-at-Home Ad

If you have responded to a work-at-home ad that you believe has compromised your personal information, contact your local law enforcement and the Federal Trade Commission.

How does BB&T Protect You from Work-at-Home Scams?

BB&T employs a number of methods to protect your identity. Learn how we place the highest priority on the security of your information.

Contact Us

Call 800-BANK-BBT

(800-226-5228).

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