Have you Googled yourself lately?

Dear WAHFAQ, How can I make sure that my private info isn’t online? Thanks! You would be amazed at the amount of information that is available online. In just a few simple clicks you can find out so much information about a person including their family, where they live, and even their purchase history on Amazon or eBay. It’s creepy, so I recommend a few steps to make sure your personal information STAYS personal! First and foremost: Check all three major search engines: Google, Yahoo, and Bing. Not only the main web results, but also look through their image results. Read More…

Identifying rental scams

Dear WAHFAQ, I thought I did everything right. I’ve been looking for a place to live, and found this listing. I drove by the home and it actually existed and was listed for sale! But it turned out to be a scam and I lost $2100. I’m working with the bank to try and get my money back, but it doesn’t look good. How could I have known? What did I miss? The rental property you are interested in is 1 Standard Bedroom 1 full bathroom apartment, located at (Address redacted) Seattle, WA 98116 of which the fixed monthly rental fee Read More…

The ridiculous Craigslist furniture scam

Dear WAHFAQ, I’ve been selling items online, and keep getting emails like this one. What is the deal with these people? They can’t actually think that I’m going to fall for this? Hello,   I was just drafting this.Thank you for getting in touch with me,i’m fine with your price as listed and looking to buy your furniture but the only way I can is through a Check which I will mail to you through UPS I am willing to wait for the check to clear before the pickup is done. I will be responsible for the pickup and it Read More…

Is this a real job offer or scam? (Mystery Shopping WalMart)

Dear WAHFAQ, I got this email the other day, and I was wondering…is it a real job or a scam?  I know you like Mystery Shopping, and I just wanted to get your professional opinion~ Thanks! One of  America’s largest, discount departmental outlet is re-branding. The Retail Industry is a competitive world, with each retailer vying for the attention of consumers in an increasingly clustered market. We do not want to rely on proprietary data collection processes and technology alone, we need appraisers to collect specific data about their experience and opinions when they visit this any of our outlets, Read More…

How do spammers get my email address?

Dear WAHFAQ, I had to finally close an old email account because I was getting too much Spam. How can I prevent this from happening with my new account? I’ve already gotten a few pieces of Spam and I just don’t want it to override my account like last time! Ah yes, the everlasting quest to stay one step ahead of the spammers! Feels like a game of whack-a-mole, no? I’m not really quite sure how “Spam” got its name. Sure there’s the meat, which we’ve all (ahem) enjoyed over the years…some more than others. But Spam in the online Read More…

I know it’s a scam, now what?

Dear WAHFAQ, I just found your website, and I’m writing because I’m a little bit scared. Through Craigslist, I tried to become a mystery shopper, and after a volley of poorly written emails from a guy named “Paul”, I just received a check on my doorstep for $3501.00 and instructions to email this HOTMAIL account for more information on the next step. Obviously, I don’t want to touch this check with a ten foot pole. But, what do I do now? Can I safely shred it and forget the whole thing? Am I liable for anything? I really want to Read More…

The three most evil work at home scams ever

Image courtesy of FreeDigitalPhotos.net and Stuart Miles


There are so many scams out there. Are there any ones that are more evil than others?

Granted, I consider most scams to be some kind of “evil” but there are a few in particular that have their own special brand of sinister wretchedness. That is because in these scams, you will actually be paid, but unbeknownst to you, you’re scamming someone else! Keep in mind that these are pretty sophisticated scams, so you may only be one part of the larger puzzle:

Version One: The Payment Processing Clerk

As a “payment processing clerk”, you may be asked to set up a bank account at a specific bank to receive direct deposits or to handle expenses. The company who “hired” you will put money in the bank account, and then you’re supposed to wire that money through Western Union to other employees, vendors, or companies.

In reality, you’re just wiring it to the scammers. When a company requires you to have a specific bank for your direct deposit, keep in mind that the scammers may have hacked into that bank and electronically transferred stolen money into your account. In this scam, you will be paid to perform your duties for as long as the scammers can get away with it. After all, they need you to keep the scam going. However, once the bank realizes what has happened, you will be liable to repay those funds.

If you’re required to use a specific bank for any potential job you have been offered, contact that bank before you do anything, and let the bank know that you suspect the account may have been hacked.

Version Two: The Payroll Clerk

As a “payroll clerk” you may be asked to process checks at home. You’ll be required to purchase checks and a software system, (easily obtained through any office supply store) and the company will mail you the names, addresses, and the amount of money to send to these “employees.”

The amount of money on these checks is fairly significant, usually around $1,000 and up. That is because, unbeknownst to you, the scammers are running a whole different con to the person on the receiving end of the check.

That person, (who receives the check that you send,) may have been hired as a mystery shopper to evaluate a Western Union. They receive your check, cash it, keep $500 for themselves, and wire back $500 to a company overseas, thinking it’s all part of the assignment. What neither of you realize is that the checks are fake, drawn off of a non-existent account (or a hacked account as mentioned in the first scam) and that the money is just going back to the scammers overseas.

The “Mystery Shopper” isn’t aware of this until the check bounces, and you aren’t aware of this until the police come knocking at your door…because, since you’re getting paid, so you think it’s legitimate!

Version Three: The Money Transfer Agent

Scammers post job ads for “Money Transfer Agents,” stating that they need someone in the US to help them receive payments for their company. This scam is actually pretty straightforward: You pick up money at one Western Union (perhaps wired there from a Mystery Shopper) and wire it someone else (either to a hacked bank account, or to the scammers overseas.) In this case, you’re just a mule–and again, you still get paid, because they need you to do their dirty work!

Hopefully, you can see a theme here: companies who are overseas and require the use of Western Union or other wire transfer services. The scammers would never send you a bank-drawn check or use credit card information, because it’s too easy to track. If ever you come across a situation where an overseas company is trying to get a state-side agent: RUN. When the scam is exposed, (and it will be) you could be liable and responsible for the money you have transferred and mailed. After all, technically, you’re the one committing the fraud…the folks overseas just asked you to do it but you’re the one who completed the task.


Is Next Job at Home a Scam?

Dear WAHFAQ, I came across this website for work at home job listings.  Have you heard of it?  Is it real or is it a scam:  www.NextJobatHome.com   NextJobatHome is a site that will send you way too many emails.  Once upon a time I signed up for them because I was curious too.  They stated that they would send legitimate job offers and I was really curious.  Well, it didn’t take too long for me to realize what they were doing! In each email they highlight a different work at home oppourtunity.  Notice, I said “opportunity” not “job“.  When you Read More…

Is CashCrate a Scam?

Dear WAHFAQ, Have you heard of Cashcrate.com?  Do you think it’s a scam?  I’ve been thinking about joining, but I’m not sure if it’s real or not.  Can you help me out? Ah, yes…Cashcrate.  They’re one of the more popular “get paid to try” companies out there. In short answer: No, they’re not a scam.  However, the method in which you earn income is a bit tricky, and frankly, for what you’re getting paid, I wouldn’t recommend them. Basically, you’re playing the rebate game.  You sign up to try out an offer for free for 30 days. As an incentive Read More…

Why does someone from Belgium want to buy my TV?

Dear WAHFAQ, I have started cleaning out my attic and basement and garage and selling things online through Craigslist, eBay local, and OfferUp. Recently, I’ve gotten a ton of contacts from people overseas who want to buy my things. This seems a bit odd. I’m tempted to reply, just because I want to sell my stuff, but it just seems fishy to me. Do you have any thoughts on this? Ohhh, boy. Do I have thoughts! Congrats…you are being targeted for what is commonly called an “over-payment scam.” Several years ago, I was in a similar situation to you. My Read More…

Is onlinestudentjob.com a scam?

Update: This is a post from 2012 and the website onlinestudentjob.com has since been taken down. However, I do feel that this article is a good exercise in learning how to research job offers and postings you find in the real world. So, this article will remain on the site for educational purposes.  Dear WAHFAQ, I saw this ad posted on my school campus. Is it real job or a scam? Well, at first glance, this doesn’t look like a job offer, it looks more like an income opportunity that you’re going to have to pay for to get information. You’ll Read More…

Can I make money assembling products at home?

Dear WAHFAQ, The other day, I was at the doctor’s office and reading one of their magazines, when I saw an ad for assembling products from home. Is this something I could really do? How does that work?   Oh dear. This one is still around, eh? I know you’ve seen the ads. Somewhere in the depths of the “Classified” section, there it is, calling out to you,”Assemble Products at home. No experience necessary. Make $200-$2000 a week! You get giddy. Perhaps you’re a stay at home mom, or maybe you have a disability or something else that prevents you from Read More…