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I’m glad you’re here at Frugal for Less where we check and review many different ways for you to make money.
We’re glad to help you find ways to make extra cash, or even make a living from home and part of that support is ensuring that you don’t fall for scams.
There are so many “get cash quick” schemes out there – the Better Business Bureau has reported 4,453 employment scams for 2018 – it’s hard to know what’s legitimate and what’s not.
Let’s look at 10 different “Get Cash Quick” schemes:
1. Medical Billing Business
Many medical billing business opportunities are nothing but scams. Their promoters lie about their earnings potential and refuse to give proper information and details.
They claim you can make $20,000 to $40,000 a year working as a medical biller from your home office. Only after you send in your sign-up fees ($325 to $495) first will they send any information on how to do this.
Their ads usually appear in classifieds, craigslist or a vague website that looks like:
“EARN $$$ HELPING DOCTORS process claims from home.
$20 – $40/ hour potential. Computer & internet required. We train.”
The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) already has filed lawsuits against a few medical billing companies over the years. That’s a bad sign right there if they’re being sued by the government.
2. Stuffing Envelopes
These have been around for ages and appear in so many classifieds – make quick and easy money stuffing envelopes for companies.
Advertising is similar to:
“$550 to $3,000 weekly. $2 for each circular you mail…
Free Postage…Free Supplies… No Advertising!
Paychecks mailed to you every week!”
The FTC warns that ads like these don’t tell the whole story — that the promoters aren’t really offering a job.
Here’s the truth – once you send your money, you’re likely to get a letter telling you to get other people to buy the same envelope-stuffing “opportunity” or to buy another product. The only way you can earn money is if people respond to your solicitations the same way you responded. The promoters rarely pay anyone. So, you paid Peter and now you have to rob Paul and Mary to make your money.
3. At-home Assembly Jobs
Again, these opportunities are rampant throughout the classified sections in newspapers and online. Make money assembling products,craft products, or jewelry.
Here’s a few ads:
“Make money with woodworking. You can make a 6-figure income from home with woodworking. Get the complete guide along with over 400 best-selling wood crafts, with plans and blueprints…”
“A craft by a guy for guys! They pay $10.00 for every 40 bookmarks you send them. Their bookmarks are made with only 3 materials andrequire NO SEWING! Materials are FREE!”
“Assemble Jewelry from Home! Get paid $7.00 to $20.00 each and we offer individuals the opportunity to make unlimited production. No experience is necessary!”
The major problem with these rip-offs is that you don’t get paid for what you made due to failing “quality control”. No matter how close or exact you get to the model – it’s not good enough. You pretty much just paid for a bunch of craft supplies.
4. Telemarketing Resale Scams
Selling brand-name merchandise by drop-shipping or on Amazon, for instance, can be a great way to make money. But sometimes hoaxers call to lure you into a resale scheme.
This scam works by someone calling you with a chance to make extra money by re-selling designer clothing, purses, or perfumes from home. All you need to do is buy brand-name luxury products at below retail prices, then re-sell the merchandise to your friends, family, and people in your community.
Once you pay the delivery person and open the package, you discover junk – not the brand-name products you ordered. The stuff you got is worthless and you can’t sell them. If you call the company they’ll claim a shipping error.
They promise to send the right products and a refund check. This is called bait and switch. The scammer requests another COD payment on the new, corrected order.
If you refuse payment and that’s when the company starts harassing you for payment – including threatening to sue you or have you arrested.
Avoid these telemarketing scams at all cost, no matter how low the “offer” is.
5. Invention Promotion Firms
You may have seen the invention promotion commercials with the picture of the caveman carving a wheel from stone and claiming they’ll pay for your invention ideas.
Every year thousands of people come up with great ideas to make and sell, but finding a buyer, or even knowing where to start is pretty difficult. Some people believe that a company will help them promote their invention and pay thousands of dollars for this service.
The truth is that only a very few inventions actually ever make it to the marketplace and getting a patent doesn’t really improve the potential of making it to the marketplace either. A patent is great to protect your idea and copyrights it’s process and name and that’s about it.
It’s best to apply to the U.S.Patent and Trademark Office on your own and get your patent and trademark for your invention. Then do the footwork yourself – contacting retailers, manufacturers, trade bureaus, trade shows, and create an online presence. Go and learn how to sell your idea on your own.
Note: Even though I described a particular advertisement, I don’t claim outright it’s that particular company that is a scam.
6. Internet Business Opportunities
Now, there are many good internet business opportunities out there. The ones you can spot are scams are the ones that require you to pay a large upfront fee to become a “partner” in the company.
The problem with these “businesses” is that their information is usually vague or bogus and once you sign on, you are now liable for any lawsuits or offenses the company incurs because your name is on it.
If you can’t get direct answers to your questions, get any references from them, or find any information on that company online, it’s usually a sure sign of a rip-off.
It’s best to learn how to create your own internet business than “joining” one.
7. Ponzi / Pyramid Schemes
These are the most “popular” scams that we hear about.
These schemes happen where a scammer lures investors into the plan and pays profits to earlier investors by using funds obtained from more recent investors. So, someone who paid into the plan today, that money goes up the chain as “profits” to earlier investors and any new investors who pay in will be “profit” to the current one.
So, the only way there are “profits” is to recruit as many people as you can and move the money up the chain. These schemes are actually illegal in the United States and many other countries, but it doesn’t stop people from trying.
8. Investing Online
Investment schemes are ones that promise a big financial return, but first requires you to invest some money first.
There are many different types, but a few are:
- A stockbroker or investment advisor calls and offers investment advice. They offer a low-risk opportunity that will give you high returns.
- Someone calls with Shares information or hot stock market tips. You need to “act quickly” to benefit from this. When in reality the share will go down and you lose big.
- Investment seminars offered by investment experts, motivational speakers and “self-made” millionaires and they convince you to invest in high-risk investments. These people make money off the entry fees, the book sales, and investments – but won’t let you get independent advice.
- Early access to your retirement funds – a financial “advisor” will offer you early access to your retirement funds for afee. The scam is that this person will gain access to your information, request on your “behalf”, gain the money and either charge large fees, or only give a portion of the actual funds.
It’s best to do your investing with a reliable company instead of from the internet, an email, or a phone call.
9. Online Writing Jobs
As a freelance writer, I scour the internet for new clients and opportunities to make money. I have come across a few writing job scams, I did not fall for them, I wanted to warn you about them.
They’re usually posted on Craigslist or on a vague internet “landing page”.
They usually look like:
“Earn up to $2000 a week writing blog posts!”
“Get Paid to WRITE. We’re seeking writers of any skill level.”
“Bloggers & Website Owners wanted! We pay for Sponsored Posts”
The way these sites scam you are in several ways – pay a membership fee and gain access to “many companies needing writers”, request free writing samples first then claim you’re not qualified (then use your material for themselves), or request payment for “sponsored posts” on your website which will claim to gain a large following.
Instead, look for writing jobs on these legitimate online job boards.
10. Get Paid to Write Online Reviews
There are great sites out there where you can get products to review for a little money (like Tomoson), then there are companies that will contact brand ambassadors and pay them for reviews, and lastly, there are online website review jobs that are good to work for.
But sadly, there are also many who claim they will pay you for online reviews of their product or service – some are even popping up as jobs on online gig sites such as Upwork. The biggest red flag is that they won’t even provide you with an actual product or service to review. You are given a link of a forum or site to write your “review” (such as on Amazon, Epinions, and Facebook), you send back the URL or a screenshot of your review and you get paid, but not very much.
The sites that the reviews are being placed on are catching on and will delete or block your account. Sometimes the scammers will claim you never posted (only because it was deleted by the site administrators) and refuse to pay you.
So, to avoid losing your shopping or social media accounts, don’t partake in these scams.
5 Questions to Ask
Suppose you come across an interesting work from home opportunity and you can’t find any research online on it, how would you know it’s genuine or a scam?
By asking these 5 questions:
1. Are you being asked to send money right away?
This would be the easiest way to spot a scam.
Legitimate companies have other ways to collect expenses from employees or independent contractors – such as the cost of a uniform. A scammer would request the money upfront while a legitimate one would deduct the cost from your first paycheck.
The same goes for any other requests for money – background checks, so-called starter kits, and other expenses. Never submit your information to the company itself for a background check! Legitimate sites have strict paperwork and contracts to sign regarding personal information.
2. Is the job listing pretty generic?
Another sign of a scam is the website you’re sent to – is it a “subpage” of a website? Is it just a plain sign up page without any other information or very vague information? Go to the main page and check it out, if the main page is just as vague – it’s very likely a scam.
Is there a company name, address, phone number or even a contact person listed anywhere? Enter the company name into an internet search and see what comes up. Do your homework and find out as much as you can before answering an email or website advertisement.
3. Did you check the job listing URL (or actual e-mail address)?
Just because there’s a logo from a well-known company doesn’t mean it came from them. Logos are easily copied and pasted onto emails and websites to look legit.
Check the actual URL or email address and see if it’s from the actual company. For example, did the URL or email address come from Amazon.com, or some website like amazon.jobs.com (which doesn’t exist).? Does the email actually come from PayPal.com or <email@example.com>?
4. Who am I “talking” to?
Even if you talked directly to the “employer” for an interview or to ask questions at length, if you don’t have their full name, company position, phone number and other details that you can do research on it’s probably not real. Also does the name sound legit? How many John Smiths (with a foreign accent) offering you a job can there be?
Go with your gut feeling, the more you feel it’s a scam – the more likely it is.
5. Do I know anyone actually doing this?
Think about your family, friends, and acquaintances – do you know anyone that has that work from home business? Are they successful?
One thing to know is that if a “get rich quick” business actually was true – everyone would be doing it. If you could actually make money by stuffing envelopes every day – everyone would stay home and do it right?
The reality of it all really is that there is no such thing as “get rich quick”, unless you inherit it or won the lottery and already the chance of those happening are very slim too.
The real way to “wealth” and financial independence is hard work, persistence, and sticking to a financial plan.
If you suspect a company or opportunity is fraudulent contact the FTC. The FTC works for the consumer to prevent fraudulent, deceptive and unfair business practices in the marketplace and to provide information to help consumers spot, stop and avoid them. To file a complaint, or to get free information on any of 150 consumer topics, call toll-free, 1-877-FTC-HELP (1-877-382-4357).
Lastly, here’s a great list the top internet scams from A to Z to check out.
Now that you know which ones to avoid, here’s a great list of some legitimate side hustles to try: