Unemployed Targeted By Work From Home Scams

Jobseekers are latest victims of cons according to new research from OFT


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Those looking for work are the latest targets of scammers according to new research from the OFT which identifies work from home scams as among the most common cons in Britain.

The findings, as part of the OFT’s Scams Awareness Month campaign, show that one in four adults have at some point in their lives been contacted by work from home scammers.

These scams are attempts to swindle money by offering so-called profitable business opportunities or start-up advice. The survey shows that 17 per cent of the adult population have been targeted in the last twelve months, and the incidence of such scams is rising.

The scam typically operates by advertising paid work from home in a local newspaper, shop windows or on a lamppost offering, with the promise of fast cash for minimal effort. The catch is that you have to pay an upfront fee to the organiser, for example, for materials or for them to reveal their 'secrets'. They take your money, but are unlikely to pay you for any work you do, or you may find that there is no work and instead only commission for getting other people to sign up.

Heather Clayton, Senior Director of the Office of Fair Trading’s Consumer group, said, " ’We are seeing an increasing volume of work from home and business opportunities scams. People who are struggling financially may be particularly vulnerable to these types of scams. Genuine work from home schemes should tell you in writing exactly what you will be expected to do, how much you will be paid, and how and when you will be paid."

The OFT-managed advice service Consumer Direct offers the following advice about how to protect yourself from home or business opportunity scams:
• If you reply to a job ad and are asked for money in advance, walk away.
• Before signing up to a work from home scheme, find out as much information as you can.
• Do a web search on the company and ask to speak to current workers.

As part of Scams Awareness Month, Scamnesty is a campaign run by the Office of Fair Trading and Local authority Trading Standards Services. Scamnesty bins are currently across the UK for people to deposit their suspected scams letters or adverts. For anyone receiving a potential scam email it can be sent to the Scamnesty e-bin at www.consumerdirect.gov.uk/scamnesty.

February 17, 2010