Internet scams are targeting job seekers

February 18, 2010 4:00:59 PM PST
It's no secret that millions of Americans are out of work and many of them have been searching for a job for several months. Now those struggling job seekers are having to dodge bogus websites that promise opportunities to work from home with serious strings attached.

The work at home scams have become such a problem that now the Federal Trade Commission is stepping in to warn job seekers. One site is accused of bilking money out of more than 100,000 people.

April Lynn has been looking for work for the last eight months. Desperate for income, four months ago she tried a work at home offer.

"I paid $29.99 for a kit one time and I never got my kit," said Lynn.

Instead of income placing internet ads, Lynn was out her $30.

"I lost 30 bucks, $29.95, yes," said Lynn.

Her experience is not isolated. The federal government says some work at home opportunities are just fronts to take cash from unsuspecting consumers looking for work. The FTC has filed cases against seven operators of what the government calls deceptive and illegal job and money making scams. It's nothing new to the Houston Better Business Bureau.

"They have been around forever and really the only reason they are still around is that they are always changing with the times. There is a new generation of scammers out there that are coming up with new versions of the same old scheme," said Monica Russo of the Houston BBB.

What is new is the number of people who need work.

"They take advantage of the elderly, younger people that have just entered the job market and people who are just generally unemployed and can't find a job because at that point they start getting desperate," said Russo.

While there are real work at home opportunities, they do not charge upfront fees. One site targeted by the FTC promised job in the entertainment industry, but job seekers have to pay to see the jobs.

"What happens is that the credit card is charged on a recurring basis and that is listed in the small print in a lot of cases and you don't see it," said Russo.

The FTC crackdown included companies that promised you could get government jobs that did not exist, another that sold material on how to get a government grant and, of course, stuffing envelopes.