Work From Home

Working from home is not all it’s cracked up to be. We know.  Many of us telecommute from time to time.

If you can work from home, you don’t get snow days and you can’t use the excuse of “not infecting the people at the office” to take more sick days.

On the other hand, you can work in your pajamas and you don’t have to worry about missing the cable guy because you’re there all the time.

Like anything else there are pros and cons to working at home. Especially cons — as in ripoffs — and our email fraud post for today is about this second type of con.

Work from home fraud is particularly insidious because it usually takes advantage of an especially vulnerable group of victims. People who are looking for an opportunity to work from home are, by definition, looking for work.

Certainly some candidates looking for such work may just want to change jobs or enjoy the benefits of telecommuting. However, for the most part, this type of fraud tends to snare people who not only NEED jobs, but also may have limitations that make it more difficult for them to obtain traditional employment outside of the home.

A typical example of “work at home” fraud looks like this:

Subject: Home based Work

From: “Susan Wood” <atustraightforward@ctk.cz>

To: [redacted]

Dear Sir/Madam,

A unique offer on the labor market! We offer a vacancy that does
not require any special skills or many years of experience. This
job is designed in such a way that it suits an average person with
regular skills and habits. We invite you to work for us as regional
representatives. Flexible work conditions, high income and career growth is what we offer.

The minimal requirements for candidates:
– Resident of United Kingdom.
– Legal age.
– Clear credit line.
– Ability to work for 10 hours a week.

At first you need to send us your resume to our email susanwood00@live.com We promise to process each resume within three days. In any case you will be informed about the decision made about your candidacy.

Our company holds on to the strict privacy policy, and nondisclosure of private information to the third parties is guaranteed except cases regulated by legislation.

The first clue that this is not the job you’re looking for is the generic greeting:

Dear Sir/Madam,

This is the mark of an unprofessional spammer.  A good one would have a list with names and software to merge the list into the greeting. Therefore, the generic greeting is a good clue but you’re just as likely to see your name (or somebody else’s) so it is only one clue.

Next is the description that includes “does not require any special skills or many years of experience.” They’ll take anybody because all they really need is your identity and your bank account.

If this is a mule fraud they might actually have you do some work picking up packages and reshipping them. Otherwise, they just want access to your money.

In this case, the bit about “regional representatives” is a pretty good indication that they’re looking for a mule.

They also offer “high income.” This example is somewhat unusual in that the compensation part is quite vague. Frauds of this type are much more likely to offer a specific amount. Usually in weekly increments like “$800 a week” or something similar.  It will usually be slightly above the upper edge of believability. The aphorism “if it sounds too good to be true, it is” always comes in handy for deciding if the email is fraud.

And just to show that they won’t take just any body:

The minimal requirements for candidates:
– Resident of United Kingdom.
– Legal age.
– Clear credit line.
– Ability to work for 10 hours a week.

Interestingly they’re looking for a “clear credit line” instead of a “clear credit history“. This is probably a usage error but they would really like it if you have a good credit line.

The need for the ability to work 10 hours a week is either a ploy to make the job look more real or, if this is a mule fraud, they really do need some of your time. The low hourly requirement is also helpful in attracting people who have regular jobs, but would like to make some “extra income from home” as they tend to say.

The final couple of paragraphs are also aimed at creating legitimacy. They really don’t care about your resume. Although, on second thought, the right resume might help them determine how gullible you are.

As stated in the first paragraph they’ll pretty much take anybody as long as you’re breathing and able to handle simple financial and shipping transactions.

These days, there are a lot of legitimate opportunities to work at home but most of them require some kind of skills like typing, writing, graphic design or computer programming; basically any job that requires spending all day at a computer.

Beware of anybody that asks you to pay for information about a job or that offers to pay you a lot of money for practically nothing.

There’s no such thing as a free lunch.

Updated 5/24/2010

Another example:

Subject: Work in USA ID*1434

From: eurofusters@euofusterssl.e.telefonica.net

To: [redacted]

Hello

Our company is looking to fill several part time positions available in your region.

A candidate for the Account Manager position must meet the following requirements:
* Is 23 years of age or older
* Is resident of United States of America
* Is fair and objective
* Is very observant and able to focus on details
* Is fairly intelligent
* Is patient
* Is trustworthy
* Is practical
* Types well
* Loves to learn
* Explains well in writing
* Handles deadlines
* Has bank account
* Has full internet access (at home or at work)

Benefits:
* Monthly salary starting at $2000(after a month evaluation period)
* 5% commission for every task you complete
* Banking and Western Union and Money Gram fees will be covered by the company

Contact email: admin@europecent.net

This one sounds like they’re looking for a Boy Scout with internet access. Well, except for the age requirement. Also they left off one of the prime characteristics of their ideal candidate: Is gullible.

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