The Top 10 Work At Home Scams Of 2009

Unsurprisingly, considering the theme of this site, I tend to receive a large number of emails from people who feel like they have been scammed or who are in a position where they think that they might be.

The global recession has left many people in financial ruin and others are simply looking to better their financial positions.

For that reason large numbers of people are either actively looking for additional work, or are being solicited for the same via email.

Based on the topics of the emails I have been forwarded I have put together a list of the most common work at home scams.

Funnily enough, the scams that appear below are virtually the same ones that I could have listed in any previous year – I guess that means that each of these methods continues to earn big bucks for the scam artists who continue to trick the unwary into falling for them.


Here then is my top 10 work at home jobs list –


In some respects stuffing envelopes could be considered to be THE work at home scam.

This one first surfaced back in the 1920s and 30s when the Great Depression hit America and so its ironic that it would appear to be the most prevalent work at home scam during this recession too.

The details may have changed but the basic premise always stays the same – a company will offer you good money to stuff envelopes.

Of course you have to pay in order to get the details of how to get such a good paycheck for such little work.

The catch?

Well, to earn your money your instructions are simple – repeat the scam – you will need to entice others into the same worthless job and then fleece them in much the same way that you have just been conned.


The second most ‘popular’ work at home scam has also been around for many years.

You will find this one advertised in local papers, pinned up in shop windows, stuck to lamp posts or in your email inbox.

After being directed to a website you can sign up and pay a fee in order to receive an information pack about how you can earn money typing at home.

The information pack, funnily enough, will say nothing about typing as such.

Instead, it will offer instructions on how you can direct others to the same website so that they too can sign up.

You will be promised a cut of the takings for being a shady affiliate but whether or not you will ever receive them is debatable in the extreme.


The medical billing scam ramps the stakes up somewhat as the entry costs are much, much higher than those required to ‘stuff envelopes’ or ‘type at home’.

For a fee of maybe $500, or perhaps significantly more, you will (so you are told) receive everything you need in order to begin your own successful medical billing business that you can run from the comfort of your own home.

Typically, you will receive something after you have paid, namely a flash looking piece of medical billing software and a list of potential clients in your area.

The reason why this is a scam though is because those lists tend to be extremely out of date or just totally bogus.

When you then approach medical clinics under your own steam to try to recuperate some of your money you will then find that they either process their bills in-house or outsource them to large and dedicated processing firms.

Either way, you’re out of pocket.


The email processing scam is a variation of the envelope stuffing ruse I mentioned earlier.

For a modest fee ($50 seems to be the going rate right now) you will receive instruction on how to become a highly paid work at home email processor.

Of course you don’t any experience or skills to get such well paid work, just a computer and an internet connection.

The twist?

The instructions don’t so much tell you how to become an email processor but rather a spammer as you are directed to circulate the same job offer to others via email, forums and newsgroups.


In this scam you will be offered a huge list of companies that are looking for people just like you.

When you hand your money over you will receive what you think will be the Holy Grail of homeworking opportunities.

The downside is that these lists are often years out of date.

The companies listed on them may have stopped taking homeworkers on years ago, they may never have done so, or they may have even gone out of business.


This is a quick and simple scam.

You will see the adverts in shop windows, in the local papers or in that spam email you received.

All you have to do is call a 1-900 number for more information on how you could earn a fortune working at home.

If you dial the number you will hear a worthless recorded message.

The scammer doesn’t care though, they’ve earned good money from your call.


The craft assembly scam is another one that has been around for many, many years.

The opportunity here is for piece work, meaning that you will be paid (supposedly) high wages in return for making certain craft items, such as toys or dolls.

In order to begin you will need to buy the company’s starter kit for say $50 or so but they say you will be able to earn that back in no time at all.

The catch?

Well, your work will never meet with their approval.

Whatever you send to them will be picked apart so that they don’t have to pay you a dime.

That, of course, assumes that you even hear from them at all.


This is very similar to #4, the email processing scam.

After handing over your money you’ll be instructed on how you can place ads on the internet to persuade others to join the same con.

The slight variation here is that the company may well encourage you to pay for advertisements via the search engine, thereby costing you even more money.

There is no easy way to turn your computer into a ‘money-making machine’.

It requires time, dedication and research and a spam email or flyer is not the place to start.


Whether a pyramid scheme is the same thing as a multi level marketing opportunity is a question I’ve posed before.

Some MLM companies, such as Monavie and Mary Kay appear to be quite genuine but others, such as YTB, have run into trouble.

If you are thinking of joining an MLM company then you need to research them thoroughly before hand to ensure that they are the right opportunity for you.

Pyramid schemes, on the other hand, are downright illegal and should be avoided at all costs.

A pyramid scheme is purely about paying a fee to someone and then recruiting others below you who will then pay you a fee.

There are no products or other sales involved and the pyramid will eventually run out of potential new recruits.

Funnily enough, this will probably be right after you’ve handed your joining fee over!


Chain mails / chain emails are are variation of the pyramid scheme I mentioned a few moments ago.

In this scam all you have to do is send money to the person who’s name appears at the top of the letter or email.

You then remove their name, add yours to the bottom of the list, and then forward it on to X number of people in the hope that one day your name will rise to the top and you will get paid.

Dream on.

Not only are chain mails illegal in most of the civilised world but they are also doomed to failure.

Those who start them make good money but everyone else soon discovers that the chain breaks long before they get their name to the top of the list.

About Lee Munson

Lee's non-technical background allows him to write about internet security in a clear way that is understandable to both IT professionals and people just like you who need simple answers to your security questions.


  1. The usual excellent article. And very handy for net noobs.

    It’s funny, though, I’ve always found these to be obvious scams whenever I’ve looked into them. I wonder why others find them so convincing?



    • Do you know what?

      I fell for one of these many years ago myself and that was a big factor in me going on to create this site.

      Everybody can be naive / stupid sometimes.

      Even me!

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