Overall, 2009 didn’t seem like a great year. That is, unless you’re an online scammer then you could have made out like a bandit. A number of new scams popped up rather quickly this year and only recently has the government stepped in to help curb this madness.

The site Consumer Affairs has compiled a list of the top scams to hit in 2009. Among those listed are work at home scams.

6. Work-At-Home Schemes

Rising unemployment this year prompted many people to grasp at work-at-home schemes in hopes of producing an income or getting rid of a stressful commute. While the brochures and Web sites made the prospect sound very easy and appealing, it seldom turned out that way.

Bogus work-at-home job offers almost always require the “employee” to deposit checks, money orders, or accept funds wired into his or her own personal bank account or credit card account, then keep a commission and wire the balance somewhere else, often to places outside of the United States.

Some victims of these scams have also been asked to process packages or perform certain tasks, such as stuffing envelopes.

“Whether the task is stuffing envelopes or forwarding checks, the net result is the same for the consumer, who almost always ends up losing a lot of money and getting a lot of trouble for their effort,” said Arkansas Attorney General Dustin McDaniel.

In addition to work-at-home jobs, hucksters also pushed work-at-home “business opportunities,” which often required victims to put up thousands of dollars to participate. In August, a Florida convicted the president of one of the nation’s largest home-based business opportunity schemes, Global Resources. Federal prosecutors say the company fleeced investors to the tune of more than $4 million.

Global promoted business opportunities to consumers across the country through television commercials and other media, touting the profits that could be earned by purchasing a Global distributorship, and urging consumers to call a telephone number that appeared in the ads. Potential purchasers were told that for a purchase price of approximately $15,000, Global would provide three terminals, numerous prepaid cell phones, and advertising material, and that potential purchasers would earn their investment back in approximately six months to a year. None did.

Work at home schemes landed at number six on the list of the top 10 scams for 2009. The rest of the list consists of…

1. “Free” trials
2. Mortgage motification/foreclosure “rescue”
3. Debt settlement
4. Government stimulus
5. Acai berry
6. Work at home
7. Kevin Trudeau
8. Online car sales
9. Auto warranties
10. Bank failure email

I highly suggest you click through to Consumer Affairs and familiarize yourself with the list to better protect you in the future. We’ll keep fighting the good fight on our end and together we can put an end to these scams.

Read more: Top 10 Scams of 2009 [Consumer Affairs]

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