People lost more than $150 million to income scams in 2020. Fourteen states want to nix that in 2021 and are partnering with federal authorities to make it happen.
Maryland, Arizona, Arkansas, California, Colorado, Florida, Indiana, Nevada, New Hampshire, Oregon, Pennsylvania, South Carolina, Utah and Wisconsin have joined forces with the Federal Trade Commission (FTC), U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) and Commodity Futures Trading Commission for what’s being called Operation Income Illusion.
These states and bureaucracies hope to stop scammers from preying on people desperate to make ends meet during the pandemic-induced economic crisis with various fraudulent employment opportunities.
Many of these ripoffs promise that people can earn big money while working from home, which is particularly enticing for people hoping to limit exposure to COVID-19. There are various scams, but these are some common Work-from-Home ones, according to the FTC:
- Internet business: A predator will tell you that you can make thousands of dollars per month by starting an Internet business. You don’t need any experience — they promise you’ll have a mentor. Other scams in this realm include fraudulent opportunities to resell luxury items. The catch: You have to pay some start-up costs.
- Multi-level marketing: Also known as pyramid schemes, these opportunities promise big money, luxurious lifestyles and a team-like culture. You’ll earn commissions on what you sell (such as supplements or beauty products) and make money if you recruit more people. Most people lose money.
- Envelope stuffing: These positions promise you’ll make money by stuffing envelopes, but you have to pay to gain access to the job.
- Investment scams: These schemes claim you can make money at home without lifting a finger. Con artists reach out via phone or email, promising you’ll increase your earnings in a matter of months if you buy shares in a fraudulent company.
While federal and state authorities are working to snuff out these schemes, you can take basic steps to protect yourself and you loved ones.
- Don’t pay any upfront fees to work.
- Ask when and how you will be paid (i.e. commissions vs. salary).
- Research the company. Try Googling the company’s name and “scam” or “complaint” to double-check it is legitimate.