Online Job Scams Are on the Rise, FBI Warns

The FBI's Internet Crime Complaint Center today warned that anyone looking for a job on-line needs to be particularly vigilant against growing work-at-home scams.

The IC3 said it continues to receive numerous complaints from individuals who have fallen victim to the scammers. Often hired to "process payments", "transfer funds" or "reship products" scammers involve the victims receiving and cashing fraudulent checks, transferring illegally obtained funds for the criminals, or receiving stolen merchandise and shipping it to the criminals, the IC3 stated.

Other victims sign up to be a "mystery shopper", receiving fraudulent checks with instructions to cash the checks and wire the funds to "test" a company's services. Victims are told they will be compensated with a portion of the merchandise or funds.

Work-at-home schemes attract otherwise innocent individuals, causing them to become part of criminal schemes without realizing they are engaging in illegal behavior, the IC3 stated. .

In addition, such scams often give scam artists the opportunity to commit identity theft when victims provide their personal information, sometimes even bank account information to their potential "employer." The criminal/employer can then use the victim's information to open credit cards, post on-line auctions, register Web sites, etc., in the victim's name to commit additional crimes, the IC3 said.

Meanwhile the Better Business Bureau is warning job hunters to beware of opportunities to work from home processing rebates. While the job offer may claim that people can earn up to a thousand dollars a day without leaving the comfort of their home, BBB has received hundreds of complaints from victims nationwide who never earned a dime and were, in fact, ripped off for hundreds of dollars in upfront fees, the group said.

With the nation's unemployment rate expected to hit a 25-year high in early 2009, work-at-home Web sites which promise big money for little or no experience are extremely tempting in the best of times. In 2008 alone, more than one million people checked with their BBB about the legitimacy of companies that offer work-at-home jobs. Unfortunately, BBB warned that most work-at-home opportunities, such as supposed "rebate processing" jobs, are ultimately scams.

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