Consumer Advocate

Sign up for newsletters and other news
Media > Newsletters > Consumer Advocate > April 2020 > Beware of Phony Work-From-Home Offers and Other Job-Related Scams

Consumer Advocate RSS feeds

Beware of Phony Work-From-Home Offers and Other Job-Related Scams

With the current economic conditions caused by the COVID-19 pandemic, many Ohioans are looking for work and may be tempted with work-from-home employment offers. Watch out because some job offers are actually scams.

Examples of phony job opportunities may include:
  • Mystery shopping: A job seeker finds an offer to make money as a secret shopper. The first assignment is to receive and deposit a check, and then wire-transfer a portion of the funds to “evaluate” the transfer service. In reality, the job seeker will be wiring his or her own money to a con artist who has sent the job seeker a bad check. 
  • Package processing: A job seeker finds an offer to work from home for a logistics company by receiving and shipping packages, but the company is bogus and the job seeker won’t make any money.
  • Vehicle advertising: An offer online claims individuals can make hundreds of dollars a week by wrapping their car in an advertisement for an energy drink or other product. The individuals are told they need to provide payment before the ads can be placed on their vehicles, but in truth it’s all a scam.
  • Babysitting: A babysitter receives an offer to work for a couple who has not yet moved into town. The couple supposedly needs the babysitter to check out their new apartment, so the couple sends the babysitter payment in advance. They ask the babysitter to deposit the payment, withdraw as much as possible, then purchase prepaid money cards and provide the couple with the cards' numbers so they can provide the money to a rental agent. In reality, there is no couple or babysitting job; it’s all a scam.
Regardless of the pitch, many scams follow a similar pattern. First, the scam artist sends a realistic check and asks the victim to deposit it. Once the check is deposited (but before it has cleared), the victim is told to wire or otherwise send a portion of the funds to someone else, possibly out of the country. Later, after the victim has sent his or her own money, the victim finds out from the bank that the deposited check was a counterfeit.

To avoid scams, Attorney General Dave Yost encourages job seekers to research the companies offering the work by contacting the Ohio Attorney General’s Office and the local Better Business Bureau. Job seekers also can use a search engine to look up reviews by searching the company’s name along with terms such as “complaint,” “scam,” or “review.”

Signs of a potential job scam include receiving a check before any work is performed, claims about making hundreds or thousands of dollars doing very little work, vague job descriptions, requests to wire transfer money or purchase prepaid money cards, and interviews conducted strictly through a messaging system.

In terms of job placement services, some are legitimate, but others misrepresent their services, promote outdated or fictitious job offerings, or charge high fees for services that never lead to a job.

When researching job placement firms, the Federal Trade Commission recommends that you:
  • Reject any company that promises to get you a job.
  • Be skeptical of companies that charge first, even if they guarantee refunds.
  • Get a copy of the firm’s contract and read it carefully before you pay any money.
  • Understand the refund or cancellation policy.
  • Get all verbal promises in writing.
  • Avoid high-pressure sales pitches that require you to pay now.
  • Don’t trust a firm that is reluctant to answer your questions.
Also research the company’s reputation with the Ohio Attorney General’s Office and the Better Business Bureau before you sign a contract or make a payment.

Keep in mind that you can find many legitimate job postings for free. For example, state job listings are available at and federal job posts can be found at