Beware of work-at-home scams

Posted at 6:57 PM, Aug 22, 2013
and last updated 2013-08-22 18:57:25-04

A nationwide scam is robbing tens of thousands of people who think their luck has changed. But this scam can be easily spotted and avoided.

When money orders, sometimes for hundreds of dollars, arrived in the mail, some victims thought it was their lucky day. Wrong.

The money orders are part of what`s called the 'mystery shopper' scam.

“Often times, they viewed it as a way to work without leaving the home and make money. All they have to do is go to the store,” says a U.S. Postal Inspector.

Here`s how the scam works: con artists send the money orders or checks to victims they lure in online.

“Anytime, you`re receiving checks or money orders in the mail, red flags should go up,” says the inspector.

The victims deposit the money order, do some shopping as instructed, complete a survey - and then send back a portion of the money deposited.

Problem is the money orders or checks are fraudulent and victims are responsible for all of the money deposited.

“I haven`t seen one of these things where someone actually makes money,” says the inspector.

Postal inspectors say there are ways to determine if a money order is fake.

“If you look at it, it has a Benjamin Franklin watermark; if you put it up to the light you can see that. If you hold them up to the light, that is how you see it. If you put the money on the ground and Benjamin Franklin is looking back at you it`s fraudulent,” the inspector says.

Postal inspectors say work-at-home schemes have become more prevalent but are rarely legitimate.