Working from home can be a crime

Crime in America.Net

Dear readers: When you teach college students you work with people looking for flexible jobs that fit their schedule. The Internet has created hundreds of thousands of jobs that simply require a computer and some time. From time-to-time, a student may ask if a job offer is legitimate.

Some students write for blogs (the reimbursement is minimal) and the vast majority of writing assignments are legitimate. But with the explosion of Internet positions come the usual frauds.

We’ve spent a lot of time on this site addressing internet based dangers. It’s our contention that offenders interested in opportunities for burglary, sex offenses (particularly those directed towards children and teens) and frauds are gravitating towards the internet in record numbers.

Some headlines from the site:

8 million households experience identity theft-31 percent increase in credit card theft-prevention resources available

Computer crime reports increase 22 percent in 2009: Crime News-Crime Prevention

Is Technology Leading to 3.4 Million People Being Stalked?

Sex Offenders:74 percent of contacted minors met internet sex offenders

For additional articles, see

So the bottom line is that offenders are using every possibility to make a living off someone’s misfortune and one of the biggest sources of fraud is work at home schemes. The material from the FBI (see below) provides a wonderful overview of the topic and includes links for additional information.

The FBI and additional federal agencies are doing a remarkable job of getting the word out about internet related scams. Please do your job and pass the information along.

FBI Report:

Involvement in Criminal Activity through Work from Home Scams

This product was created as part of a joint effort between the United States Secret Service, the Federal Bureau of Investigation, the Internet Crime Complaint Center (IC3) and the Financial Services Information Sharing and Analysis Center (FS‐ISAC).

Consumers continue to lose money from work-from-home scams that assist cyber criminals move stolen funds. Worse yet, due to their deliberate or unknowing participation in the scams, these individuals may face criminal charges.

Work-from-home scam victims are often recruited by organized cyber criminals through newspaper ads, online employment services, unsolicited emails or “spam”, and social networking sites advertising work-from-home opportunities.

Once recruited, however, rather than becoming an employee of a legitimate business, the consumer is actually a “mule” for cyber criminals who use the consumer’s or other victim’s accounts to steal and launder money. In addition, the consumer’s own identity or account may be compromised by the cyber criminals.

Example of a Work-From-Home Scheme:

  • An individual applies for a position as a rebate or payments processor through an online job site or through an unsolicited email.
  • As a new employee, the individual is asked to provide his/her bank account information to his/her employer or to establish a new account using information provided by the employer.
  • Funds are deposited into the account that the employee is instructed to wire to a third (often international) account. The employee is instructed to deduct a percentage of the wired amount as their commission.
  • However, rather than processing rebates or processing payments, the individual is actually participating in a criminal activity by laundering stolen funds through his/her own account or a newly established account.

In February 2010, the U.S. Federal Trade Commission (FTC) coordinated with state law enforcement officials and other federal agencies to announce a sweeping crack down on job and work-from-home fraud schemes fueled by the economic downturn. Individuals who are knowing or unknowing participants in this type of scheme could be prosecuted.

Protect Yourself:

Be wary of work-from-home opportunities. Research the legitimacy of the company through the Better Business Bureau ( for US-based companies) or WHOIS/Domain Tools4 ( for international companies) before providing personal or account information and/or agreeing to work for them.

In addition, Trusted Source ( can help you identify companies that may be maliciously sending spam based on the volume of email sent from their Internet. See also the FTC’s recommendations ).

Be cautious about any opportunities offering the chance to work from home with very little work or prior experience. Remember: if it looks too good to be true, it usually is.

Never pay for the privilege of working for an employer. Be suspicious of opportunities that require you to pay for things up front, such as supplies and other materials.

Never give your bank account details to anyone unless you know and trust them.

If you think you may be a victim of one of these scams, contact your financial institution immediately. Report any suspicious work-from-home offers or activities to the Internet Crime Complaint Center (IC3)7 at  

For more information, visit:  a nonprofit organization dedicated to protecting job seekers from fraudulent job offers. Sponsored by the FTC, this site provides practical tips from the federal government and the technology industry to help you be on guard against Internet fraud, secure your computer, and protect your personal information.

Better Business Bureau,

 This advisory was created through a collaborative cross-industry effort to protect consumers and businesses against account takeovers. Led by the Financial Services Information Sharing and Analysis Center (FS-ISAC), contributors include more than 30 of the largest financial institutions in the U.S., industry associations including the American Bankers Association (ABA), NACHA – The Electronic Payments Association, BITS/The Financial Services Roundtable; and federal regulatory and law enforcement agencies.

%d bloggers like this: