Work from home. Once-in-a-life-time opportunity. Earn easy money now. Sound good to you? Before you respond to a work from home job advert like this one, here’s what you need to know about common work from home scams

1.)  Data Entry Jobs

“Make money doing data entry from home”

Here’s how the data entry scam works: When you respond to the advert, you will be asked to purchase an instruction manual which will, supposedly, show you how to make money from data entry work. Then, you will set about placing ‘make money doing data entry from home’ adverts on free job boards, in an attempt to sell someone else the manual you just bought.

“Work from home. Typing work using your own computer”

This is a variation on the data entry theme. You will be asked to pay a registration fee, before you get your first typing assignment. Once you’ve paid the fee, the work either never materialises or you are given a token assignment. You will never see the money for this work, nor hear from your ‘employer’, again.

2.)  Envelope Stuffing Jobs

“Earn big money stuffing envelopes from home”

Here’s how the envelope stuffing scam works: You apply for the job, and are asked to purchase a ‘starter kit’, which may or may not arrive. If it does actually materialise, you’ll discover that you’re required, not to insert marketing leaflets or brochures into an envelope, as you were led to believe, but to re-advertise the position you just landed to snare other poor suckers like you.

3.)  Referral Programmes

“Get paid for referring customers. It’s easy. Start earning right now.”

How the referral scam works: You reply to the advertiser. You’re asked by the advertiser to buy a training manual which will unlock the secrets to wealth. You replicate the scheme by advertising the referral programme, hoping to entrap other people.

4.)  The Dream Job

“Dream job. Golden opportunity to work from home and earn +R35k a month”

Here’s how the dream job scam works: After being seduced by the promise of landing your dream job, you will be asked to cough up for a training manual. What will the training manual tell you? You guessed it – to bait other unsuspecting job seekers by advertising your ‘dream job’.

Don’t go through the revolving door!

By now, you should have got the hang of how work from home scams work. You are asked to hand over money to the advertiser, yet get nothing tangible in return…except instructions on how to scam someone else in precisely the same manner as you were scammed. This is known as the revolving door – the advertisement turns out to be the product.

Why do people get scammed by work from home opportunities?

It’s all in the advertising. Scammers make use of advertisements which feature:

  • Persuasive sales copy
  • Convincing testimonials
  • Promises of a better life.

Always ask the following questions before applying to a work from home job:

  • How will you be paid – is it a salary or commission-only remuneration structure?
  • If commission only, are the sales targets unrealistically high (out-of-reach)
  • Does the advertiser promise you unusually high earnings from working only part-time?
  • Does the advertiser boast about implausibly easy, get-rich quick schemes?
  • Does the advertiser ask you to invest money upfront

Some other work from home scams to avoid:

If you come across work from home job adverts with wording similar to those listed below, run!

  • “Work from home. No experience necessary” – Reality check: every employer worth their salt would rather hire good people with experience.
  • “Tax free income from home. We show you how” – Reality check: we’re sure the taxman would love to get hold of this advertiser!
  • “Work from home. No risk business” – Reality check: every business carries some risk; the point is to mitigate the risk and arrive at a place where the return justifies the investment.
  • “Earn a passive income. High earnings with no effort” – Reality check: it takes a great deal of effort to start a business and to get that business to turn a profit.
  •  “Forex trading from home. Make a profit in just five minutes” – Reality check: this time frame is completely implausible.

 Remember, work from home scams are illegal

In Notice 427 of 2007, the Government Gazette of South Africa labelled advertising certain work from home opportunities as “an unfair business practice…which is not in the public interest”. The Government Gazette cited the following work from home opportunities as scams:

  • Typing work
  • Addressing and filling envelopes
  • Addressing labels
  • Administrative work
  • Gathering and compiling data
  • Direct sales of consumer goods, where the product and company is not truthfully identified.

These so-called work from home opportunities were declared by the then Minister of Trade and Industry, Mandisi Mpahlwa, to be unfair and, therefore, unlawful. Perpetrating work from how scams are, then, a criminal offence, and conviction of such an offence can result in a fine of up to R200 000 or a five-year prison term.

Exposing work from home scams

If you spot a work from home scam advertised online, in a newspaper or flyer, report the advertiser to the Advertising Standards Authority of South Africa.