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3 Top Work from Home Job Scams to Look Out for in 2024 & How to Avoid Them

Home Business Magazine Online

By Tony Anscombe, Chief Security Evangelist, ESET

We have closed out 2023, and cybercrimes of all types continue to rise at an exponential rate. One type that is no exception and can be extremely devastating to victims is Work From Home (WFH) job scams. Even as more people have returned to the office following the COVID pandemic, the sheer volume of WFH job fraud attempts on the internet is staggering. For example, according the U.S. Better Business Bureau (BBB), the amount of money lost to job scams rose 250% during the first three months of 2023.

Don’t be fooled into thinking that you are too savvy to be duped by fraudsters. The BBB also found that 36% of job scam complaints involved a fake check. Likewise, in just the last two years fake check losses absorbed by banks rose 40% to top $1.3 billion.

As we head further into a new year and many are looking to start new jobs or careers, it is especially important that individuals who are either currently or plan to be working from home on a regular basis are aware of these fraud attempts and can protect themselves from becoming victims.

Here are three top WFH job scams to be on the lookout for in 2024.

Scam #1: Phony professional jobs with well-known companies

WFH and other employment scams targeting laid-off tech professionals are on the rise.

Sophisticated fraudsters are increasingly contacting job-seeking professionals on LinkedIn and other social platforms or job boards. They pose as recruiters looking to fill nonexistent jobs, often claiming to represent, or actually be from legitimate companies. But their real goal is to steal personal data and/or dupe victims into advancing money, supposedly for IT equipment or other goods.

As such, job seekers should never give their personal data or money to hiring organizations without proper investigation. And any potential “employer” seeking to conduct a job interview using a messaging app or text messages should be regarded with suspicion. Criminals favor these tactics to shield their identities and make themselves harder to track.

Fraud of this type often starts with a direct message on a job search site, with a “recruiter” reaching out to tell you that you have an in-demand skill set. The fake recruiter then sends an authentic looking invitation for a virtual interview and may also send details about the job, including benefits.

After the interview comes the offer letter, and then requests for personal information and money. For example, you may get an invoice for a computer that the company will supposedly order. Only you have to pay for it first, often using a cash app. The promised reimbursement or equipment will never come.

Scam #2: Unsolicited fraudulent WFH job offers

Another scam targeting WFH job seekers is the unsolicited offer. If a “too good to be true” WFH job offer comes your way seemingly by chance or because you were “selected,” be extremely wary—especially if the position requires no training or experience.

Many bogus job emails or online ads are basically phishing attacks. The “hiring” process often leads to theft of personal data, fake check scams, and/or payment for worthless goods, useless certifications, etc.

Some of the WFH job types most frequently used as bait for these fraud attempts include virtual assistant, medical billing services, data entry, home assembly work or so-called rebate processing.

A common scamming pattern goes like this:

  1. The victim responds to an unsolicited offer for a virtual assistant or other computer-based job.
  2. After quickly “hiring” them, the fraudulent employer sends the victim a payment, usually in the form of a paper check that eventually bounces. The victim is told to deposit the payment and use it to cover some job-related purchases.
  3. The payment turns out to be significantly larger than is needed for the purchases. The victim is then told to return some of the payment by wire transfer or a cash app.
  4. The payment bounces, there is no job, and the victim is out whatever money they sent back to the scammers plus whatever personal data they divulged.

Scam #3: Fake “start your own WFH business” schemes

“Start your own business” cons often include a fraudulent recruiter or bogus business coach. They may ask you to buy training materials, buy or sell “starter kits,” and/or recruit other would-be business owners.

If you fall for the fraud, you will be left with worthless or nonexistent goods, and any money you are paid will come only from scamming other people like yourself.

Tipoffs for these types of fraud include:

  • Alleged business experts requiring you to pay upfront for a “guaranteed” or “get rich quick” money-making system. There is no such thing. Running a solo business is hard work and offers no guarantees.
  • Illegitimate multi-level marketing (MLM) schemes offering high-paying jobs or guaranteed income. Genuine MLM success takes just as much effort as any other business opportunity. Plus, due to the nature of MLM these companies employ very few people directly.

A common MLM or pyramid business scam is “envelope stuffing.” Victims must make an upfront payment to get started. The “job” is to package and send materials to lure others into the bottom of the pyramid. No payments ever come through.

Another popular “start your own business” ploy is investment fraud. Scammers convince their victims that, after paying for trading guidance and possibly investment services, they can beat the stock market. The offerings are bogus and investment wins to offset the payouts never materialize.

Here’s how to stay safe from WFH scams

This list of best practices for WFH job seekers will help you sidestep scammers:

  • Don’t respond to unsolicited requests for contact or click on links in unsolicited emails or text messages. These could be phishing attacks.
  • Check out companies with the Better Business Bureau and search online using the employer’s official name followed by “scam” or “complaint.” Also look for fraud reports on national information sharing sites like and
  • Use contact information directly from a company’s website to authenticate job postings. Call the company at the phone number listed on their website and ask to speak to the person claiming to be from the company.
  • Inform the company and the BBB of the attempted scam, allowing them to bring attention and warn other potential victims.
  • Conduct thorough background research on any job ads or offers.
  • Remember that online information can easily be faked. Look carefully for subtle inconsistencies in business email addresses or third-party websites. Gmail, iCloud, Yahoo, etc. email addresses are cause for concern.
  • Consider creating a special email address for your job search. If you find opportunities you didn’t solicit in your new inbox, be on high alert for fraud.
  • Be very cautious about sharing personal data like your date of birth, physical address, financial data, Social Security number, or even your resume to unverified individuals.
  • Vague job descriptions are a scam tipoff.
  • Never send money to an unverified source using wire transfer or cash app.

Staying aware is your best defense

Within the chaos of WFH employment deceptions there are patterns you can spot to stay safe. Most employment fraud schemes rely on familiar social engineering practices, like exploiting a sense of urgency or making offers too good to be true.

As always, staying mindful and aware of scamming patterns is your best defense. Unemployment and job hunting are inherently stressful. Don’t let scammers exploit the situation.

The post 3 Top Work from Home Job Scams to Look Out for in 2024 & How to Avoid Them appeared first on Home Business Magazine.

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