This series will be broken up into five different parts and will span the course of two weeks. After the final part is published, I’ll compile everything into either a downloadable guide or just a page here at I’ve Tried That. I want you guys to have a quick reference handy on how to spot the scams, determine if a program is legitimate, and find real ways of making money online.

For the first two parts, I’m going to cover the basics scams online. Part 1 will focus on work at home scams. Part 2 will cover Internet Marketing scams. Next week, I’ll have lists on different ways you can actually MAKE money online. More on that next week though, for now, let’s cover…

Work at Home Scams

The absolute EASIEST way to protect yourself online is to ask yourself the following question…

Is this opportunity “too good to be true?”

If you find yourself being promised a lot of money for little to no work, run. Run far away. Trust your gut instincts. They’re almost always right. Making a lot of money online takes a LOT of work, time, and effort. The medium by which you do work is different, but that doesn’t make it any more lucrative.

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Check Cashing Scams

Check cashing scams are the most prolific scams to date. They are very elaborate, convincing scams run by networks of criminals. Partaking in one of these scams could cost you thousands of dollars and your identity. Fortunately, these scams are very easy to identify.

With a check cashing scam, you’re asked to receive a check, deposit it into your bank account, and forward most of the amount overseas while keeping a portion of it for yourself as a “payment.” The checks you receive are either fake or stolen and it’s only a matter of time before they bounce. Unfortunately, most banks don’t spot the fake checks and will allow you to deposit them. Federal law requires banks to immediately grant you access to the funds even though they haven’t cleared. This allows you to complete your “job” and send the portion required overseas.

The fake check you deposited WILL eventually bounce. It can take weeks, or even months but that check will bounce. Unfortunately for you, you’ve already wired the money overseas and there is no hope of recovering that money. This leaves YOU responsible for repaying the cost of the check.

Follow this one simple rule: NEVER accept a job that requires you to handle someone else’s money. If an “employer” want you to receive a check and forward the money elsewhere, it is 100% guaranteed to be a scam. Every. Single. Time.

Online Survey Scams

I need to preface this real quick by saying: there ARE real survey companies that DO pay you for taking surveys. The scam here lies with people claiming you can make hundreds of dollars by answering surveys. Most surveys will pay you just a few dollars (I’ve rarely seen a survey company offer more than $5) for 20-30 minutes work. If someone is telling you that you can become rich and make hundreds of dollars per day answering surveys, you’re about to get scammed. There ARE focus groups that do pay well but these are very rare, and you have to meet strict eligibility requirements.

One last thing, NEVER pay to join a survey company. Survey companies pay YOU.

Data Entry/Home Typing Jobs

Like online surveys, there actually are real data entry jobs. However, it’s near impossible to land a real position. Companies outsource data entry work where they can pay workers cents per hour to handle mass amounts of work. It’s very hard to find an actual online data entry position. The scam here are data entry or home typing “jobs” that offer to pay you thousands of dollars for filling in forms.

You’ve probably seen something like this: “How would you like to make $500 per day working 20-30 minutes by filling in forms for companies? All it takes is $50 for training materials to get started!”

This is the data entry and home typing scam you need to avoid. It takes no skill to fill in a form. No company is going to pay you a CEO’s salary just for typing a few lines in a box. Scammers aren’t hiring you for a job. They’re selling you outdated information on pay-per-click (PPC) marketing. Basically, the form you will be filling out is an advertisement order form. The information you’ll be typing is your credit card information. PPC ads can easily cost you hundreds or even thousands of dollars per day if you aren’t careful.

It’s best to avoid anyone telling you that you can make a lot of money by filling in simple forms.

Package Reshipping

Package reshipping scams are just a variation of check cashing scams. These are also 100% guaranteed to be a scam every single time.

These scams looks very legitimate. The scammers will often ask you for tons of personal information, copies of your drivers license, and will force you to sign a contract. Some scammers may even interview you over the phone. It’s all for show of course and now some criminal has full access to all of your private information.

You’ll eventually start to receive packages from different companies and you’ll be asked to forward or reship these packages somewhere overseas. There’s one problem here though: the products you receive are purchased with stolen credit card information and identities. You’re receiving stolen property and sending it off to criminals overseas.

Aside from not getting paid for the “work” you do, you’ll also likely get a visit from the police or even an FBI agent depending on who you’re working for. You’re aiding criminals and receiving stolen property. This is HIGHLY illegal. I’ve read stories online where houses are raided by police, computers have been seized and the person jailed until the scam is sorted out. Never agree to receive someone else’s packages. It’s never going to turn out well.

Additional Scam Indicators

Western Union/Money Gram

Any time you see the name Western Union or Money Gram, you can be 100% guaranteed the “job” you are applying to work for is a scam.

I can think of only one exception to this rule and that is that you’re applying to work for a cashier in a Western Union store. Other than that, stay far away from any company that wants you to send or receive money from Western Union. It will seriously be a scam every single time.

Income Calculators

If you ever see something like this…

Income Calculator

You can be fairly sure you’re about to waste money. These are designed to deceive you into think you can do a few minutes of easy work and make thousands of dollars. That’s never the case.

Unsolicited Job Offers

I’m generalizing here, but if you receive a job offer from someone who found your resume on Career Builder or Monster, they’re most likely trying to trick you into one of the fake job scams above. This is especially true if the job offer is in an unrelated field of work or if it seems particularly lucrative.

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There are enough job seekers out there that employers don’t need to send out unsolicited jobs offers via mass emails. It’s best to just delete it and move on.

Wrapping up Work at Home Scams

Finally, here are just some general keywords you’ll always want to avoid: cash gifting, envelope stuffing, email processing, rebate processing, form processing, grant processing, government grants, payroll manager, payment manager, payment coordinator, or accounts receivable manager.

Keep an eye out for Part 2 on Friday and the “How to Make Money Online” series starting next week. Stay safe out there and please feel free to leave a comment or question below.

READ THIS NEXT: How to build a full-time income online with no experience

Join the Discussion

  • Audrey Kroll
    Audrey Kroll

    Steve, Thank you for all the helpful information you send! I always look forwrd to your
    E- Mails, and have received a great many
    helpful hints. Thank goodness for people like you to restore our faith in this business. Audrey Kroll

  • Cleta Brookstein
    Cleta Brookstein

    If any of you have been scammed – you need to do a chargeback with your credit card. Also – file complaints with the BBB, Federal Trade Commission, Attorney General’s Office and Rip-off Report. The more who complain – the more you get attention. I’m fighting to get money back as well. Best of luck to all of you!

  • Lisa

    Hi Steve,

    You nailed it again. I had a freind who was trying to get into modeling. Eventually an “Agency” contacted him saying they would set up a photo shoot but he had to cash the check and pay the photographer on site and keep his fee from the $2500 check he would reveive.

    Upon depositing the check all of his bank accounts were frozen and he was contacted by the fraud department and informed of the legal ramifications. The check he deposited, of course, was stolen and he almost faced criminal charges.

    Luckily the bank managers were understanding and simpathetic and let him off with a warning.


  • Dianne Thorpe
    Dianne Thorpe

    Thank you so much Steve for your invaluable information – I find it hard to believe that there are so many dishonest individuals out there who are prepared to play on the vunerability of people who just want to make an honest living. The hardest hit I had was with Mary Gerstein – I thought after seeing her on international TV shows and with what I thought were great checks on her creditability that I was on to a ‘sure’ thing – ripped off – and nothing I have tried will get my money back……..
    Keep up the good work – and we are all looking forward to hearing if there really are good work opportunities out there……….
    Thanks, Di from downunder

  • Nkem Dew
    Nkem Dew

    Thank you so much Steve for these valuable info!
    You are such a great person!

  • Keith

    I got suckered into a package reshipping deal, but I was lucky. I only reshipped 3 packages before I figured out what was going on. After the second package, I asked for payment. I got a nice GPS for geocaching. When I got the 3rd package, I had already figured out the game. You could say I stole too, but I was hard up for money. I took the third item, which was a nice camera, and sold it on ebay. Then, I took an old cordless phone and stuffed it in the box. Me and my “boss” had a good back and forth about that. I told her I was moving and I would contact her again soon. I eventually emailed her with a different email address and told her exactly what I had done along with the line, “If you choose to respond, your IP address will be sent to the FBI”. Never heard from her again.

  • sylva irabor
    sylva irabor

    i really thank God that there is one like you out there . i have just been scammed by .since i sent them my $30 by liberty reserve , i have not heard from them . i have contacted them using their contact ticket, but they will not reply.thanks for all that you are doing.

  • John Brainerd
    John Brainerd

    Steve, it seems like all your stuff so far is just prep. I want to have some leads on good, legitimate businesses so that I can evaluated whether I can or want to do them. Can you provide that? Please advise.

  • Carol


    Once again you have written a great and well defined article. You always hold my attention. I was scamed last month by
    I paid my fee and registered. After trying to understand the hundreds of different things they sent (that seemed very out of date). I requested my 60 day money back no questions asked money back. I have sent 3 e-mails with the last one informing them about I am searching for a lawyer.
    Thank you for your warnings about scams.

    Maybe some day you could add MyDataTeam to your list of scammers.

    Wait to hear from you soon.

  • Dirk

    Steve- You continue to impress me with your integrity

  • Cleta Brookstein
    Cleta Brookstein

    I received a call from Network Media Solutions. Has anyone heard of this company and are they legitimate?

  • Jeff

    Steve, This article should be required reading for any individual seeking to make money working from home. I was a victim about 8 years ago of a survey company that promised I could earn a lot of money by investing $29.99 as a membership fee and they would provide me with names of “legit” (joke, joke) survey companies. After I foolishly gave this company their fee they provided me with a list of hundreds of “legit” (there’s that word again) survey opportunities. All I had to do was scroll through and enroll in as many as I could. I was such a sucker because a majority of these survey sites were already out of business. With a little due diligence and research you can find out legit survey sites on your own. It costs nothing to apply to any site and then fill out your info in order to qualify for specific surveys.
    It’s sad that a certain percentage of human beings inhabit this planet only looking to steal from and deceive honest, law-biding individuals. I echo your philosophy completely, Steve. Honest, decent individuals looking to earn an income working from home MUST be careful to not be suckered into scams. What looks too good to be true – “earn $100’s day with your computer doing all of the work”, often is something that could bite you BIG TIME down the road. In your bank account and quite possibly with law enforcement personnel who come ringing your doorbell because you participated in a money making opportunity which was 100% ILLEGAL!!

    We need more honest people like you Steve who aren’t afraid to “Tell it like it is”!!

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