Internet Frauds and Scams - Part II Work at Home Schemes

Internet frauds and scams, in many cases, are not really novel and ingenuous ways of defrauding people. Mostly it is the same kinds of fraudulent schemes that have defrauded consumers and investors for many years before the inception of Internet.

These age old schemes, after adapting its colour and look necessary for this new medium, are now appearing online. With the explosive growth of Internet and e-commerce in particular, online criminals try to present their fraudulent schemes in ways that look like any legitimate offer for goods and services that vast majority of genuine e-commerce merchants offer. In the process, they not only loot consumers and investors but also undermine consumer confidence in legitimate e-commerce and the Internet.

In next few issues, we shall discuss some of the 34 types of Internet frauds and scams we have identified so far.

Work At Home Scheme

This scheme (like many other Internet scams) offers easy way of earning money by doing very little.

Typically aimed at housewives, unemployed, handicapped persons, the elderly, and low income earners - these fraudulent schemes promise a high-income position requiring little experience and no investment. The catch in most of these schemes is that - you must purchase something before you begin work. The upfront money to be paid in advance may range from USD 35 to few thousands !

Big disappointments await those who are gullible enough to have paid for the schemes. Some work-at-home schemes promote ideas for setting up home businesses, such as selling specialty products for which little or no market exists. Participants are not informed at the outset that they will be required to sell these items themselves without any outside help. Sometimes these schemes require you to produce the items yourself with the promoter's promise to buy back the items providing the workmanship meets their 'high standards.' These promoters invariably reject the finished products and return them to you to sell on your own.

Other variants of the scheme are stuffing envelope, responding to e-mails and even surfing Internet !

Are all 'Work-At-Home' Schemes Fraudulent ?

A Big No ! There are certainly many good and legitimate schemes to work from home.

As I said before - the Internet fraudsters try their best to imitate genuine e-businesses. Just as market for fake diamonds can not exist unless there are real diamond sellers in market - there are many legitimate earning opportunities in the Internet besides the fakes.

For example, companies are outsourcing jobs like data entry, medical transcription, editing etc., which can be done from home.

However, none of these legitimate schemes offer easy money or promises thousands of dollars for doing very little. On the contrary, many of these outsourced-works require special skill.

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Source: FAIDA - Newsletter on Business Opportunties from India and Abroad Vol: 3, Issue 39 January 23' 2003

Author : Dr. Amit K. Chatterjee
(Amit worked in blue-chip Indian and MNCs for 15 years in various capacities like Research and Information Analysis, Market Development, MIS, R&D Information Systems etc. before starting his e-commerce venture in 1997. The views expressed in this columns are of his own. He may be reached at )

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