Who are the scammers?
These are people with no heart or soul. Their only motive is profit. In my opinion, they are likely sociopaths. That is, they are unable to feel the pain of another person and thus focus only on what they can materially obtain. These are the people who bring you work from home internet scams.
Scammers were around long before the days of the internet. I’m sure you’ve heard the term “Snake Oil Salesman.” The Chinese used snake oil in traditional medicine for centuries to relieve minor physical pain. They made the oil from the fat of the Chinese Water Snake. This oil contains 20% eicosapentaenoic acid and has strong anti-inflammatory properties.
As it made its way into western culture, it became associated with deceptive marketing (read here about Clark Stanley).
18th Century European and 19th century American entrepreneurs advertised and sold mineral oil mixed with herbs as snake oil liniment. They claimed it was a panacea; i.e., a solution or remedy for all variety of afflictions. This was particular among sellers who masked addictive drugs such as cocaine and opium based concoctions.
Thus, the term is full of negative connotations. Current online scams are products of the modern “Snake Oil Salesmen.”
You might be horrified to know that there were no federal regulations for the safety and effectiveness of drugs in the United States until the 1906 Food and Drugs Act.
Psychology of the scam
If you’re reading this, you’re likely an older person like a boomer or senior. And, you’ve probably encountered any number of scams. But, because of your experience, you’ve become wise and perhaps can spot a scammer a mile away! However, not everyone can.
So, what’s the psychology of the scam? In my opinion a combination of desperation, ambition and hope are the main ingredients.
For example, if you’ve been laid off your job and money is tight, you may be looking for a quick way out of your dilemma. You’re desperate and willing to try anything.
Or, let’s say you’re a young person full of ambition and drive and you’ve heard about people getting rich quick through internet marketing. You might be setting some unrealistic goals for yourself and the idea of being rich by age 21 is intriguing.
Furthermore, we all hope for a better life, don’t we? And there’s no doubt that having plenty of money allows us to live that life.
Who are the people most likely to be affected by online scams:
- Sick, disabled or elderly people. Since it’s hard for them to land a traditional job, they are primary targets for scammers.
- Stay at home mothers. Since there isn’t a double income in the family, working from home to make extra income can be attractive.
- Low income or no income. Obviously, desperation is the key factor here.
- Lack of education. Again, it may be hard to find a high paying job so working from home seems attractive.
Let’s get a little deeper into the psychology
Here is some information that explores the psychology of the scam a little deeper. It is from the Department of Psychology at the University of Exeter in the UK. Here are some of the main points from their report.
- Scammers use appeals of trust and authority. People tend to trust authorities and fall victim to those who appear legitimate and reputable.
- They exploit the human desires of greed, fear, avoidance of physical pain and the desire to be liked. This reduces the possibility that people will analyze the message. Then they will act without thinking.
- Scammers often personalize their offer to make it seem like it is unique for that particular person.
- They ask victims to take small steps of compliance to draw them in and make them feel committed.
- Scammers present a disproportionate relation between the size of the reward and the cost of obtaining it. In other words, you get a big prize for a small amount of money.
- If a person has a lack of emotional control and is open to persuasion, they will be more apt to fall victim to a scam.
- Interestingly enough, people who tend to analyze the scam are victims more than a person who immediately dismisses it without thought.
Work from home Internet scams to avoid
Here’s a partial list:
A company contacts you that you didn’t contact first for a work from home position. They contact you through a social platform like LinkedIn. They can easily fool you with this one since LinkedIn is a legitimate way to get job leads.
They ask you to give your personal banking information in order to start a work from home job. In 2012 the Federal Trade Commission helped refund $2.3 million to victims who were scammed by a fake company that used famous trade names. The company promised the victims they could earn $100,000 in 6 months when they ordered a work-from-home kit for a $4 shipping fee. The fake company didn’t tell them that they would also charge an extra $72 per month.
Craft Assembly: I bet you’ve seen this one. These scammers promise to pay you for assembling toys, dolls and other crafts at home. You just pay up-front for the starter kit which includes instructions and parts. Sounds pretty good, doesn’t it? However, once you finish the job and send it back they tell you the work doesn’t meet their specifications and you’re out the money you have already sent. So, in this case, the scammer makes their money from selling the starter kits and not from the assembled products.
- Medical Billing: Here’s another I bet you’ve seen many times. With this scam you pay $300 – $900 up-front to start your own medical billing company. How exciting! They promise you state-of-the-art medical billing software and a list of potential clients. What they conveniently forget to tell you is that most medical clinics do their own billing or outsource to third-party firms that specialize in this. Try to get a refund from these guys? Good luck!
- At Home Typing: Again, you send a fee to the scam artist and you receive a disk and printed information. Then, they tell you to place home typist ads and sell copies of the disk. Thus, they rip you off and turn you into a scammer too!
- Letter from Nigeria: This is my all-time favorite and I used to be contacted by this scheme quite frequently (It’s been a while though and oh, how I miss them! LOL).
Anyway, this one contacts you by email and has many variations. For example, you receive a message from a man claiming to be a Nigerian Civil Servant (it could be another African country but Nigeria, being the largest in population, seems to show up frequently). He tells you that he is looking for a reputable foreigner with whom he can deposit up to $60 million while he deals with political situations in his country.
In return, he promises you 30% of the money once “documentations are concluded.” He will ask you for a deposit to include in his “business venture.” He will likely contact you again after “things don’t go according to plan” for additional funds. Needless to say, you might as well light a match to a wad of $100 bills.
- Mystery Shopper: They send you a hefty check and ask you to deposit it in your bank account. Then you withdrawal it to check out the quality of services at local merchants. Problem is, the check they sent was phony.
These are just a few of the most famous internet scams to avoid. Of course there are thousands of others.
What to do when you encounter a scam
- Contact the Better Business Bureau.
- Never send money up-front.
- Don’t give personal information.
- Do your research using the Work-at-Home Sourcebook and other resources available at your library.
- Ask lots of questions. If it is a legitimate company, they will have lots of answers.
Work from home internet scams will be here as long as we have hopes and desires for more money. But as they say, “If you think it’s too good to be true then you are probably right.”
Still, not all offers are scams. Read here for an offer that’s legitimate.
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