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Scammers often target job seekers and prospective entrepreneurs with bogus employment and money-making offers. We know that because the FTC has investigated and stopped many of them. But scammers are a relentless breed and continue to make deceptive pitches in online ads, on job websites, and on social media platforms. Knowing some of the red flags can help you spot these scams.

Job scams come in a variety of guises. Some fraudsters falsely claim to offer the inside track on executive positions, mystery shopper assignments, careers with the government, or jobs selling products. Others sell job listings or placement services that turn out to be worthless.

Their equally toxic cousins – con artists pitching bogus business opportunities – are a creative lot, too. For people looking to supplement their income, they may pitch an “opportunity” as a lucrative side hustle suitable for a stay-at-home parent or a retiree. In other instances, they encourage prospective entrepreneurs to ditch the 9-to-5 grind altogether with false “be your own boss” promises that they can work less while earning big money. All you need are the “secrets” they’ll teach you. But after people sink thousands of dollars into the “opportunity,” the only one raking in the big bucks is the scammer.

Some scammers cast a wide net, while others use publicly available information to tailor their pitches to particular people. Others disproportionately target prospective entrepreneurs in the Black and Latino communities.

Perhaps you or someone you know is considering a post-pandemic career change or is looking into a business opportunity. Scammers are looking for you. They want your money and your personal information. So don’t just accept the word of the person pitching the opportunity, their agents, or someone they suggest you talk to. Instead, before you buy into a business opportunity, run it past a trustworthy person who has no affiliation with the company – for example, a mentor in your community affiliated with the SBA’s SCORE program. Also, consider this:

  • Do an online search for the name of the company along with words like “scam,” “review,” or “complaint.” It might lead to eye-opening reading about others who have lost money.
  • Legit employers, including federal and state governments, will never ask you to pay to get a job. Anyone who does is a scammer.
  • An honest potential employer will never send you a check and then tell you to send them part of the money. That’s a fake check scam.
  • Success stories and testimonials might not be true or typical. Glowing stories of success could be fake or misleading, and positive online reviews may have come from made-up profiles.

Report scams, fraud, or questionable business practices to the FTC at ReportFraud.ftc.gov.

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