We’ve all gotten those silly e-mails about someone wanting to send us millions of dollars out of the blue from Nigeria, and hopefully you’re savvy enough to know that that isn’t real. But scammers are getting more and more sophisticated, with one scam making the rounds right now aimed at writers and editors, unfortunately.
I admit, I almost got suckered into a “dream come true” work-at-home job where someone wanted me to edit their book for a juicy four-figure salary. It seemed too easy; but they were going to overnight me a check and I wasn’t going to start on until it cleared, so it seemed like there was no scam potential there. Then they said they were sending me a check for $2000 more than the original amount, and asked me to forward the overage to a third-party.
This is when I knew there had to be a catch; and there was. The scam is that the check or money order they send you is counterfeit, and even though it will initially clear your bank, once it’s examined more thoroughly and determined to be fake you will end up being responsible for all of that money that you’ve extracted and forwarded on to that third-party, plus the so-called payment that you received.
You may think you’ll never fall for one of these scams, but when you’re broke and desperate, you want to believe. If something feels amiss, listen to your instincts, but also look for a few telltale signs that might tell you this job really is too good to be true.
“No Experience Required”
Sure, some jobs are entry-level, but that’s usually how the company will phrase it: entry-level position. When they say “no experience required,” they seem to be trying to lure in as many applicants as possible. If you’re an employer looking for workers, do you really want to have as many applicants as possible, or the best applicants possible? It’s a very good chance something might not be kosher with this job.
“Make $2000 a Week Working at Home One Hour a Day!”
Really? Anything this easy that pays that well, people are going to keep it a secret for themselves. They aren’t gonna be out there spreading the word, and if they’re trying to convince you about all the money you’ll make with whatever it is they’re offering, you can bet they’re going to want to be paid for it. Just ask notorious infomercial king Don Lapre. Oh wait, you can’t ask him because he committed suicide in prison after all the scam charges were filed against him. Don’t be that much of a sucker.
“For a Small Fee…”
Any kind of job where you have to pay money up front for a training manual or job materials is most likely not on the up and up, with the exception being buying product kits for direct sales of merchandise. Now, there are some jobs where criminal background checks are required and they require you to pay for the cost of those, which is legitimate, but anything else should not require a fee and should raise a red flag to look closer at what you’re getting into.
“I Seeking Asistant for Me”
When the job listing or e-mail is highly illiterate and jumbled English, it’s probably a good guess you’re not dealing with a native speaker. That isn’t a problem in itself if the potential employer or client is up front about that, but if they are presenting themselves as an American citizen seeking help and they can’t put together a sentence in anything resembling proper English, they probably aren’t being honest with you.
I recently had a query on a freelancing platform where a supposed US citizen near me was looking for a virtual assistant to help with his comic book business. As we got more into the details about exactly what he was looking for, he started talking — very incoherently I might add — about shipping electronics to me to ship to other people, and it was clear he was not a native English speaker or who he was trying to pretend to be.
That alone was a big red flag, even before he wanted my bank account info to send me the money to pay for shipping those electronics. Yeah, right. No, thank you.
“I Have a Great WAH Job for You, and if You Contact Me, I’ll Tell You What it Is”
If an ad promises a certain amount of money you can make each week, but is really vague about what you have to do for it or gives you no details at all about what the job entails, it’s a scam. They want you to contact them so they can get your info and try to sell something to you. Whether it’s a product, or service that’s going to supposedly help make you money, you can bet they’re counting on PT Barnum’s philosophy, that there is a sucker born every minute, and they’re counting on it being you. Don’t oblige them.