Work-At-Home Scams - Job One: Don't Take the Bait

by Rudolf Faix Friday, July 10, 2015 3:13 PM

Announcement; Earn $$$$ without leaving your homeEveryone’s seen them - seductive work-at-home opportunities hyped in flyers tacked to telephone poles, in newspaper classifieds, in your e-mail, and all over the web, promising you hundreds or thousands of dollars a week for "Ads/E-mail Processing", "Craft Assembly", "Data Entry", "Envelope Stuffing", "List with Clients for Sale", "Make Profit Now", "Marketing Kit", "Medical Billing Service", "Typing at Home", etc. And it’s just a phone call or mouse click away…

Might be tempting during these uncertain economic times, but beware of any offers that promise easy money for minimum effort - many are scams that fill the coffers of criminals.

In a nutshell, you find an ad, which tells you that you could turn your computer into a moneymaking machine (giving you the example of someone who already quit their 9-5 job - More details on this can be found in the "Mom Makes $.../ Day Scam"). They lure victims in by using phrases such as "Make an extra buck", "extra holiday money", "Make money online", or "Make money on the Internet", etc.

Here are a few of the most common work-at-home scams

  • Advance-fee
    Starting a home-based business is easy! Just invest a few hundred dollars in inventory, set-up, and training materials, they say. Of course, if and when the materials do come, they are totally worthless…and you’re stuck with the bill.

  • Making a couple of additional bucks doesn't sound any simpler than this:
    Simply pay an in advance, one-time charge (a couple of thousand dollars, maybe) to have somebody fabricate and host a working site highlighting different family unit products available to be purchased, from toothpaste to tissue; every time somebody purchases a thing, you gather a cut of the exchange. You should do nothing more than urge individuals to shop there - the rest (stocking stock, transporting the item) is taken care of for you. On the other hand, more probable, nothing is taken care of, and the criminal offering you the open door is a distant memory with your sincere cash before you've sold one tube of Crest.

  • Driver needed
    This trick, as of late promoted on Craigslist, has numerous varieties. For one situation, a man asks you to chauffer his wife, who is going to your territory. Sufficiently simple, however the installment terms are slightly convoluted. You are informed that you will get a check (or "cash gram") for, say, $2,500 via the post office. You will store the check, then instantly haul out the money - $700 to cover your charge and any subordinate costs, and the rest to be sent back to the trickster. Your bank most likely won't know for a day or two that you have saved a fake check.

  • Counterfeit check-facilitated "mystery shopper"
    You’re sent a hefty check and asked to deposit it into your bank account, then withdraw funds to shop and check out the service of local stores and wire transfer companies. You keep a small amount of the money for your "work", but then, as instructed, mail or wire the rest to your "employer". Sounds good? One problem: the initial check was phony and by the time your bank notifies you, your money is long gone and you’re on the hook for the counterfeit check.

  • The greater part of these telecommute plans guarantee up to a great many dollars for each week for preparing protection claims for specialists who are excessively occupied with, making it impossible to manage the printed material themselves. You'll get startup showcasing materials, programming, an instructional meeting and a "lead" rundown of neighborhood doctors - all for a charge, obviously. Too awful that product costs a considerable measure less, best case scenario Buy, your instructional meetings are put off uncertainly, your leads are vapor and nobody needs your service.

  • This may be the worst one of all
    Customers pay a charge to enroll with the business to get to a pre-screened rundown of "genuine" work-at-home employment postings. The con artist's promotions appear over the span of a "trick free employments at home" online inquiry, and they guarantee a discount to the individuals who neglect to get a vocation. In the wake of sending in installment, casualties are summarily bolted out of their records and never see a solitary opening for work.

  • Pyramid schemes
    You’re hired as a "distributor" and shell out big bucks for promotional materials and product inventories with little value (like get-rich quick pamphlets). You’re promised money for recruiting more distributors, so you talk friends and family into participating. The scheme grows exponentially but then falls apart - the only ones who make a profit are the criminals who started it.

  • Unknowing involvement in criminal activity
    Criminals - often located overseas - sometimes use unwitting victims to advance their operations, steal and launder money, and maintain anonymity. For example, they may "hire" you as a U.S.-based agent to receive and re-ship checks, merchandise, and solicitations to other potential victims…without you realizing it’s all a ruse that leaves no trail back to the crooks.

Add identity theft to the mix. As if these schemes aren’t bad enough, many also lead to identity theft. During the application process, you’re often asked to provide personal information that can be used to steal from your bank account or establish new credit cards in your name.

On the job. A host of law enforcement and regulatory agencies investigate these schemes and track down those responsible. But the most effective weapon against these fraudsters is you not falling for the scams in the first place.

A few tips:

  • Contact the Better Business Bureau to determine the legitimacy of the company.

  • Be suspicious when money is required up front for instructions or products.

  • Don’t provide personal information when first interacting with your prospective employer.

  • Do your own research into legitimate work-at-home opportunities, using the "Work-at-Home Sourcebook" and other resources that may be available at your local library.

  • Ask lots of questions of potential employers - legitimate companies will have answers for you!

  • Keep in mind that every successful business is successful because it has happy customers. Try to find those who worked with the company before, but do not use the "company's" own testimonials. That's where everybody falls, as they believe everything without doing research. There are over 1,000 forums on this topic on the Internet.

And if you think you’ve been the victim of a work-at-home scam, file a complaint at your local authorities.

 

Lottery Scams

by Rudolf Faix Friday, July 10, 2015 2:06 PM

Slot Machines"Congratulations! You’ve won the National Lottery! To claim your prize, just send us cash to pay the taxes in advance."

Sound familiar? It’s a classic Nigerian letter scam - originating in Spain - that bilks thousands of people around the world out of an estimated $24 million a year and opens the door to future identity theft.

How does the scam work? The names and addresses of targets - all outside of the named country - are collected through the Internet. Then you, the target, get a letter from the National Lottery claiming you’ve won about a few hundred thousand dollars in a special promotional lottery. An estimated six million letters are sent a year. The letters look legitimate, complete with official logos and contact information. They also include a form from the bank where the money is supposedly being held. You might even receive follow-up faxes and phone calls.

Then the hook: all you have to do is pay taxes from the country - between 0.5 percent and 2 percent of the winnings - to get the money. Just fax your completed claim forms with personal and banking information and wire the money within a couple of days. If you take the bait, chances are you’ll be asked to cover other expenses, too.

The Spanish National Police (SNP) has relentlessly pursued criminals in their country who has behind such a scheme. In July last year, they launched a massive crackdown that resulted in 300 arrests, 150 searches, and the seizures of nearly 2,000 cell phones, hundreds of computers and fax machines, plenty of fake documents, and $265,000 in cash.

This is truly a 21st century concept of policing: working internationally to protect you in your community.

You cannot win money or a prize in a lottery unless you have entered it yourself, or someone else has entered it on your behalf. You cannot be chosen as a random winner if you don’t have an entry.

Many lottery scams try to trick you into providing your banking and personal details to claim your prize.

You should not have to pay any fee or tax to claim a legitimate prize. Don’t be fooled by claims that the offer is legal or has government approval - many scammers will tell you this. Instead of receiving a grand prize or fortune, you will lose every cent that you send to a scammer. And if you have provided other personal details, your identity could be misused too.

A fake prize scam will tell you that you have won a prize or a contest. You may receive a phone call, an email, a text message or see a pop-up screen on your computer. There are often costs involved with claiming your prize, and even if you do receive a prize, it may not be what was promised to you.

The scammers make their money by making you pay fees or taxes, call their premium rate phone numbers or send premium text messages to claim your prize. These premium rate calls can be very expensive, and the scammers will try to keep you on the line for a long time or ask you to call a different premium rate number.

Avoid from getting scammed by these and similar frauds? Here’s an good advice:

  • NEVER give personal information over the telephone, mail, or Internet unless you initiated the contact.
  • Do NOT wire money to strangers.
  • NEVER send money to collect a prize if a fee is required.
  • If you think you’re being targeted, contact your local authorities.

 

Weight Loss Scams

by Rudolf Faix Friday, July 10, 2015 11:09 AM

bathroom scales crying for helpThis type of scam may involve an unusual or restrictive diet, revolutionary exercise or "fat-busting" devices, or breakthrough products such as pills, patches or creams.

Who did not read about the magical weight loss products? They get offered with the famous words like:

  • Lose 10 kilos in 10 days
  • Eat your favorite foods and lose weight
  • Shrinks your stomach, waist and hips
  • Scientists announced icredible discovery
  • Revolutionary Method
  • Turn on your body's fat-burning process
  • Absorbs fat
  • New scientific/medical breakthrough
  • Testimonials from famous doctors and "happy" customers with dramatic before and after pictures

You can be sure that there are no magic pills, miracle cures or some safe options for serious medical conditions for rapid weight loss. The only weight you lose is the weight of the money you spent from your purse. There is no other way to lose weight than to eat less and to move more. Some of the offered methods are even very dangerous for your health.

The products are promoted with the use of false claims such as "lose 10 kilos in 10 days" or "lose weight while you sleep", and often require large advance payments or that you enter into a long-term contract to participate in the program.

The top diet scams are:

  • Metabolism-boosting pills based on herbal ingredients
    At the highest priority on the rundown of eating regimen tricks are pills taking into account natural fixings that guarantee to support your digestion system and help you blaze calories or fat speedier.

    New herbs dependably appear to permeate to the top as potential eating routine guides, as one leaves another shows up in light of the fact that the FDA doesn't screen herbs. The vast majority of time they are simply incapable; on occasion they are perilous.

    Two late illustrations of home grown eating regimen pills that got the consideration of the FDA as risky are ephedra and kava (Piper methysticum, otherwise called kava kava).

    Up to this point, ephedra was found in numerous home grown dietary supplements for weight reduction, however in February 2004, the FDA banned the offer of ephedra in any dietary supplement in the U.S. because of the danger of disease or damage. The herb is a nearby compound cousin of methamphetamine or speed and can bring about hypertension, sporadic pulse, a sleeping disorder, apprehension, tremors, seizures, heart assaults, strokes, and even passing.

    Kava is a plant found in the islands of the South Pacific. Supplements containing the natural fixing are frequently advanced for unwinding and weight reduction. In any case, the FDA issued a notice in 2002 that utilization of supplements containing kava has been connected to serious liver damage.

  • Fat- and carb-blocking pills
    Pills that claim to obstruct your body's ingestion of fat and all the more as of late sugars are likewise usually sold eating regimen tricks. 

    Regardless of the possibility that these fat and carb blockers filled in as its been said they do, scientists say the impacts can be risky if not outright unsavory. 

    It's similar to making somebody lactose narrow minded. By making the body not able to breakdown supplements in the body, which prompts gastrointestinal issues like loose bowels, bloating, and gas, these pills additionally hinder the retention of the vitamins that go with these supplements.

    Why might somebody deliberately submit themselves to that? Some fat blockers may have something in them that can meddle with how individuals assimilate fat, yet they've never been indicated to help with considerable weight reduction.

  • Herbal weight loss teas
    Teas in view of home grown fixings are likewise touted as eating routine guides, however specialists say the primary fixing in large portions of these teas is caffeine, which is a diuretic and prompts water misfortune.

    Losing water isn't getting more fit. Caffeine can likewise build metabolic rate by a little sum however insufficient that you would have the capacity to say that it added to weight reduction.

    It is the program which is coming along with the teas which results into a weight loss. You have to drink the tea after dinner and you are not allowed to eat anything else until the morning. That way it could curb late-night eating, but it's not necessarily a result of drinking the tea itself.

  • Diet patches, jewelry, or other products worn on the body
    Patches that convey sedates however the skin have get to be famous for helping smokers quit and conveying estrogen to calm menopausal side effects. 

    Be that as it may, specialists say no viable weight reduction medications have been intended to be conveyed through the skin by means of patches. More often than not, these patches contain the same inadequate herbs found in dietary supplements or teas.

    Additionally included in this eating regimen trick class is adornments, for example, studs or wrist trinkets, intended to be worn on the body with the guarantee to help individuals shed pounds. Any case that individuals can lose even a pound or more a week utilizing these gadgets is false.

  • Body wraps or "slim suits"
    On the off chance that there were an "oldie yet goodie" eating regimen trick prize champ, specialists say it would likely go to body wraps. 

    The thick, layered sweat suits once prominent decades back have transformed into silver "thin suits" and fat-softening body wraps intended to secure body warmth and dissolve away the pounds.

    Be that as it may, specialists say the main sort of weight reduction brought on by wearing these outfits is water misfortune created by over the top sweating. As soon as you drink, you'll put on all that water weight back.

 

Market Manipulation or “Pump and Dump” Fraud

by Rudolf Faix Friday, July 10, 2015 9:10 AM

Market ScoreboardThis scheme - commonly referred to as a “pump and dump” - creates artificial buying pressure for a targeted security, generally a low-trading volume issuer in the over-the-counter securities market largely controlled by the fraud perpetrators. This artificially increased trading volume has the effect of artificially increasing the price of the targeted security (i.e., the “pump”), which is rapidly sold off into the inflated market for the security by the fraud perpetrators (i.e., the “dump”); resulting in illicit gains to the perpetrators and losses to innocent third party investors. Typically, the increased trading volume is generated by inducing unwitting investors to purchase shares of the targeted security through false or deceptive sales practices and/or public information releases.

How do these scams work? In this case, the ringleaders created shell companies whose penny stock (worth less than $5 a share) was traded on the OTC Bulletin Board (not on the more widely known New York Stock Exchange or NASDAQ). They secretly issued most of the shares for themselves in fictitious names, then touted their companies’ stock through false statements in press releases, electronic bulletin board postings, online newsletters, and the like.

Often using their retirement funds, unsuspecting investors purchased the highly-touted stock - or their unscrupulous financial advisors did so without their knowledge - driving or "pumping" up the price. Then, the fraudsters "dumped," or sold, their stock for thousands or millions of dollars, causing the stock to plummet and innocent investors to lose their shirts.

In many cases, the losses were significant. And while running an undercover operation and gathering enough evidence to put the criminals behind bars, the focus has been on helping victims get some of their hard-earned money back. The FBI spent years interviewing more than 600 mainly elderly victims, painstakingly documenting their sometimes heartbreaking losses.

A modern variation on this scheme involves largely foreign-based computer criminals gaining unauthorized access to the online brokerage accounts of unsuspecting victims in the United States. These victim accounts are then utilized to engage in coordinated online purchases of the targeted security to affect the pump portion of a manipulation, while the fraud perpetrators sell their pre-existing holdings in the targeted security into the inflated market to complete the dump.

Tips for Avoiding Market Manipulation Fraud:

  • Don’t believe the hype.
  • Find out where the stock trades.
  • Independently verify claims.
  • Research the opportunity.
  • Beware of high-pressure pitches.
  • Always be skeptical.

 

Redemption / Strawman / Bond Fraud

by Rudolf Faix Friday, July 10, 2015 8:53 AM

Strawmen at the fieldProponents of this scheme claim that the U.S. government or the Treasury Department control bank accounts - often referred to as “U.S. Treasury Direct Accounts” - for all U.S. citizens that can be accessed by submitting paperwork with state and federal authorities. Individuals promoting this scam frequently cite various discredited legal theories and may refer to the scheme as "Redemption", "Strawman" or "Acceptance for Value". Trainers and websites will often charge large fees for "kits" that teach individuals how to perpetrate this scheme. They will often imply that others have had great success in discharging debt and purchasing merchandise such as cars and homes. Failures to implement the scheme successfully are attributed to individuals not following instructions in a specific order or not filing paperwork at correct times.

This scheme predominately uses fraudulent financial documents that appear to be legitimate. These documents are frequently referred to as "bills of exchange", "promissory bonds", "indemnity bonds", "offset bonds", "sight drafts" or "comptrollers warrants". In addition, other official documents are used outside of their intended purpose, like IRS forms 1099, 1099-OID, and 8300. This scheme frequently intermingles legal and pseudo legal terminology in order to appear lawful. Notaries may be used in an attempt to make the fraud appear legitimate. Often, victims of the scheme are instructed to address their paperwork to the U.S. Secretary of the Treasury.

Tips for Avoiding Redemption/Strawman/Bond Fraud:

  • Be wary of individuals or groups selling kits that they claim will inform you on to access secret bank accounts.

  • Be wary of individuals or groups proclaiming that paying federal and/or state income tax is not necessary.

  • Do not believe that the U.S. Treasury controls bank accounts for all citizens.

  • Be skeptical of individuals advocating that speeding tickets, summons, bills, tax notifications, or similar documents can be resolved by writing “acceptance for value” on them.

  • If you know of anyone advocating the use of property liens to coerce acceptance of this scheme, contact your local authorities.

 

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I'm since more then 35 years in the computer business (programming and technical support) and using the Internet since it has started. Since 2002 I'm programming solutions for Asterisk and since 2004 I'm in the call center industry.

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