Would you like to make money online? Anyone looking for a legitimate work from home job online immediately becomes a target for the creative scammers online. You don’t want to fall victim to this right?
But how do you know how to spot an online scam and the best ways to avoid work from home scams online? In this post, I am going to explain what are the common signs of scams and what to watch out for to avoid losing your time and money.
What Is A Scam?
First of all, let’s understand more about what a scam is. Business Dictionary defines a scam as “A fraudulent scheme performed by a dishonest individual, group, or company in an attempt to obtain money or something else of value.“ (source: Business Dictionary)
So their intention is to take your money and they can be individuals or companies in this global online world.
Do you consider every situation in which you felt you didn’t receive real value for your money a scam?
Not so, right.
If you were provided with the full and honest information, not false promises, and make your own informed choice to purchase a product, it wouldn’t be considered a scam.
Scams Online – They Can Be Anywhere
Sadly scams are everywhere – fake websites, social media and spam emails.
Just join one of the “Work from Home Opportunities” or “Make Money Online” Facebook groups, ask for recommendations and within hours you will be bombarded with hundreds of offers.
Sure, some offers are legitimate opportunities to join a real Internet Marketing company, start a business, or become a distributor for an MLM CBD oil or cosmetics line. Unfortunately, it can be hard to distinguish the legitimate offers from the pure scams, as the con artists have become very sophisticated in hiding their real intentions.
The scammers usually take advantage of people who are vulnerable, who are in desperate need of money, like those who are nearly broke due to job loss etc. Another audience scammers love are the “dreamers”, who want to get a piece of “make money online” pie and get rich quickly without any real effort.
How To Spot An Online Scam?
In this section, you will be armed with how to spot a make money online scam and how to spot a work at home scam. We’ll start with the red flags, when you see these you know to get right away.
Red Flags – Signs of Online Scam
In case, you’ve engaged in communication with someone who offers you an attractive opportunity or job, look for the following red flags:
#1 Video ONLY Sales Page
Look at this one, it asks you to sit through a video before you see any other information. All it offers are some big promises, unknown comments and takes you straight to the checkout page.
I sat through this entire video and all I got was a bunch of testimonials and they kept referring to these “little known 30 minute money methods” that they don’t tell you about.
Any legitimate and respectable program will provide you with the information you WANT and NEED to help you decide right from the start.
Guess what? After enduring a bunch of “success stories”, if you make it to the end, you’ll be asked to pay a lot of money to get access to the “unique system” or “secret training course”. Run away from these.
#2 Immediate Sign-Up
You are asked to provide your email address and sign up BEFORE you have any understanding of what it actually is that you are signing up for. In some cases they use Limited (Time) Offer. This is a common sales tactic to imply some sort of scarcity to get you to sign up.
In this case, if you enter your details you are taken straight to the checkout page.
But we still don’t know what it is yet!
#3 Unknown Company
We have no idea who this actually is. In all the footer information on this sales page, all you get is an email address. Other red flags when you do know who the company is, when you cannot find any mention of it on the Better Business Bureau (BBB) website or in Google search.
#4 Empty Promises, Quick Wealth and ‘Done For You’ Systems
“Take Action Today and Bank Up to $500 Every 30 Minutes”, “Earn $1,000 by the end of this week with this simple trick”, “Pay $29 Today for an Instant $399 a day Online ATM Machine”…
Have you seen outrageous claims and sales pitches like these ones before?
Yes, of course you have. Please don’t fall for them.
In this example, “Shelly” promises you the unrealistic income claims of banking up to $500 every 30 minutes and make up to $600,000 in a single year. She even said that all you need to do is to spend 30 minutes a day and with little effort you can earn a full time income. Really?
Experienced marketers can easily identify these sales pitches. However, beginners can tend to fall for this type of trap when they desperately need to earn money.
That’s why scammy marketers continue to use these kids of empty promises to scam the beginners who are vulnerable.
These marketers typically pitch ‘Done For You’ (DFY) Systems, which have extra appeal to the naive, as they have the double lure of “get rich quick” and “easy money system” rolled into one. These are a trap and do not work. The biggest problem is the masses are all promoting the same funnel/product. Typically they require paid traffic to try to get ahead of all the competition trying to sell the same thing.
In the end, there is ‘market saturation’ and heavy cost burden. So this is why people often fail with these ‘Done For You’ systems.
To achieve a full-time income online is not easy. To get these kinds of full-time income results, these people will have at least one of the following:
- TIME – to spend working on it all day
- MONEY – to buy the upsells and spend buying traffic
- TRAFFIC – or already have a large following.
So do you still believe those empty promises?
This is NOT possible…so they are lying.
This is another way to spot an online scam! Run from these.
#5 Expensive Props – Sports Cars and Mansions
Have you ever been to a website and there is some dude standing in front of an expensive car or a huge house? You know the websites, they show flashy images and lavish lifestyles. They reek of “Look at how much money I’ve made, I now have a Lamborghini and a luxurious mansion or luxurious lifestyle”
I’ve seen this far too often. You can rent any expensive car, rent a big house from AirBnB, or simply pay the owner to stand in front of their big mansion. These are simply tricks to show off their lifestyle in order to lure you and make money from you from the junk they are pitching.
But it works because so many people want to have those material goods or live that lifestyle. Don’t get sucked in by this cheap sales tactic.
Instead, a true quality product will instead focus on the features and benefits, instead of using this kind of scammy and vague promotional tactics.
So the next time you see these promotional tactics, Click the X on your internet browser. This is a key way to spot an online scam.
#6 Full of Hype! Show You Outcomes But You Aren’t Really Told How You Make Money
Here the scammer never really tells you actually HOW you are going to make money.
They are really vague and focus their sales pitch on how you’re going to benefit from their program. Many people like to show screenshots after screenshots of their income reports or paychecks or hype around their lifestyle now.
Also beware if they say how little time and effort you’ll have to put into making all this money and the great lifestyle you’ll be living.
Look if they have a true opportunity for you and a legitimate product they’ll tell you in every detail how you’ll make money. A legitimate product should focus on its features, what people can learn from it, how it can benefit people and things like this.
#7 Using Fake Video Testimonials
They can get a video testimonial for anything they want. There are sites like Fiverr where you can get any actor to offer testimonials for a price.
These scammers can hire a bunch of people and get lots of testimonials. These testimonials are how they show their So-Called “proof” that their service or service is legitimate. Sadly, you can’t rely on these testimonials.
#8 Upsell, Upsell, get your Upsells!
It’s a well-known fact that if you invest some money into something, you are more inclined to spend MORE money on it.
Most online marketing scams have multiple upsells because that is the best way for the course, membership or product creators to make even more money from each customer.
Beware that the mindset of people who create many upsells is mainly to make money for themselves. They are not genuinely focused on helping you with your needs. They just want to make more money for themselves.
How this usually plays out is that once you pay for a basic membership or product, you’ll be offered multiple upgrades for a higher price. The creator will always claim that you absolutely need each of these additional products to make real profits. So as a customer its like you are getting part of the puzzle at a time, not the entire platform.
So when you see the first layer then Silver, Gold, Crown, Diamond, Platinum, etc options start popping up, telling you that actually you can’t make real money without paying for these advanced products. The pressure to upgrade, and fear of missing out once you started, is sucking you and your money in.
Instead of creating one quality product that includes everything, they are selling multiple lower quality products or memberships that make up something complete.
So whenever you are deciding to join any programs, membership or training, do some research to know whether there are any upsells.
#9 Pyramid Schemes or No Products
One of the biggest make money online scams is where there is no product or service sold. If you join one of these, all you will be doing is trying to recruit people into the scheme or program and then have those people recruit people into the program and this sad cycle continues.
A pyramid scheme “is a business model that recruits people via a promise of payments or services for enrolling others into the scheme, rather than for sale of products or services or supplying investments.” (source: Wikipedia)
Basically, this is a type of program where you are taught how to bring in more people into the scheme but there’s no products or services they receive in exchange. Your only income is from inviting more people to join the scheme.
An unfortunate example of this kind of scam is the now shut down Empower Network – one of the worst recent online scams.
#10 Limited Time Offer
“Fear of loss” is a powerful sales strategy to force upon you an “invisible force” – scarcity with availability or limited time offer. If used properly, and I mean for good products, not for scams, it can be a good strategy to increase sales. True fear of loss is used by legitimate marketers to sell all the time.
Online scammers know this and also use fear of loss to pressure you into buying their low quality or scam products.
They tell you that the offer is only good for X number of hours with the countdown clock, and that it will never be offered again. Or this offer is coming down after “the first 100 customers only” or any sales number spin they use for whatever junk they are selling.
This is a complete lie, come back in a day, a week or even months later, if they haven’t been shut down already. You’ll see the same fear of loss message trying to lure others in. Please be warned that they aren’t going anywhere until their fancy scam takes as much money from as many people as they can.
Bonus Tips – Other Things to Watch Out For
A stranger reaches out to your on social media and offers you a money-making opportunity or job
Crypto, Bitcoin, Binary Options and Forex
Particularly this year and increasing, seem to be crypto, binary option and forex scams.
The offer promises high profits, but don’t mention any of the risks. Most of the offers are NOT from legitimate trading platforms. Any professional trader must explain the risks and disclaimers of being involved in these types of instruments. No explanation means it’s a scam.
Beware especially wary of Binary Options. Binary options are financial derivative products which by definition are zero-sum games: any money one makes, somebody else loses. The owners of trading the platform/outlets are the only ones sure to make money from naïve traders. Fraud is rife here as warned by the US Securities and Exchange Commission.
Take this example which tricks people into trading binary options.
This shows, “I will make you $100,000 in the next thirty days. Guaranteed.” Then this guy says “all you have to do is start the software.” Okay? You simply need to start the software or whatever spin they use.
Click a button and it’ll just spit out $100,000. These clickbait headlines work, these get some people. The way it works is you go through this sales letter with all their claims, scarcity tactics etc. As soon as you enter your details to try it out for free, next you are told to “invest” a minimum of $250 to their “expert” binary trading broker.
Then the scam typically morphs into crypto. That’s the premise of all these things is that you put down $250. Then you see Bitcoin Rush, Bitcoin Fresh etc. They change the names often because the ‘businesses’ need new merchant accounts. They get shut down by the banks, by the merchant account providers, you know like PayPal and Stripe. It’s trading app “that will trade money for you.”
Watch out too because how these crypto or binary companies are advertised, they’re actually advertised oftentimes by affiliates. That’s why you get tons of them in the “Work from Home Opportunities” or “Make Money Online” Facebook groups.
By the way, the Orion Code is an exact copy of the Quantum Code, both are shut down.
Not all crypto currencies are actually scams, but this is like the “Wild West” and there are tons of scams.
Eight Ways To Avoid Work From Home Scams Online
#1 Check Contact Details
Always look for this. You want to know who is the person or party that you are dealing with. What is their facebook profile (does it look like a real or a fake profile) and most importantly, can you contact them?
If you cannot contact someone or get support prior to buying a product or service, do you think they have nothing to hide?
Better that you don’t buy it. You see, if something goes wrong with the product or you are not happy about something there won’t be any way to fix this unless you can easily contact them.
Also beware of scammers that tell you once you buy their product you’ll have access to a private forum or some other type of contact.
You really must be able to talk to someone before you decide to buy, not after.
#2 Look for Reviews Online
One of the first things you should do when you come across an online marketing program is to do a Google search for relevant reviews.
You will probably come across a couple of thorough reviews on the product or program you are looking for.
Bear in mind that different people have different perspectives, so spend some time going through a few of them to ensure you get a balanced perspective.
You cannot trust the product sales page or company website completely, because that only shows the benefits. So the reviews done by current or past customers helps you make a better informed decision for yourself.
#3 Do More Research About the Company
Ok so you’ve read some reviews. Taking 30 Minute Money Method as an example, look for “30 Minute Money Method complaints”, “is 30 Minute Money Method a scam” etc. You type the product name into Google and see what comes up on Google Suggest.
Look at sites like:
- Better Business Bureau
- Scam Alerts: Federal Trade Commission
- Online Threat Alerts (anti-cybercrime community)
Take time to do your research, look at others’ reviews, and read the comments.
Also, what support do they offer? In the case of 30 Minute Money Methods, being a scam product with a fake owner, this seems just like a sales funnel to take money from innocent people. I wouldn’t be surprised if there is ZERO support.
#4 Avoid No Free Trials
It is always better for a course or program if they offer you a “try before you buy” free trial. For an inexpensive product it should be a ONE-TIME payment, again be very wary of upsell after upsell.
It is great when courses or programs allow you to take a closer look to see if it is for you.
So ask for a free trial to assess the product or a service. Most serious organizations offer such an option, as they have nothing to hide. On the other hand, scammers won’t offer a free trial because they are afraid that people will leave.
At a very minimum, ensure that you have a Money Back Guarantee. Just be aware that by having a money back guarantee does not ensure that it is a legitimate program.
Remember that this is a psychology game to encourage you to purchase first as they know that only a small fraction of customers will ever take them up on a money back guarantee.
This should be a no questions asked and ideally a 100% Satisfaction Guarantee. You should be able to contact support freely about this.
#5 Don’t Fully Trust Testimonials or Social Proof on Sales Pages
Sure all the legitimate programs and products out there are backed by testimonials and social proof. This is to show both authority and build trust with potential buyers
Just be aware that these can be made up or fake.
Fake Income Proof
Take a look at the screenshot above, there’s a scrolling headline showing who just made how much money.
This same scam website also flashes up account balances showing how much money this “Shelley” made with the secret methods.
This particular scam doesn’t end there. Even the comments section on this sales page are fabricated!
Do you know how I know this? Let me show you now…
I tried leaving a comment myself and look what happens…
Guess what?! It is not even possible to leave comments, this is what you get redirected to:
So there’s something very suspicious here, right?
#6 Don’t Touch What You Don’t Understand
Don’t get involved in anything you don’t fully understand. The business model they are offering should make sense and be legal. Can you explain this offer to your family and be able to answer questions?
For example, what will you be doing with the 30 Minute Money Method?
Do you understand what’s involved in the forex and crypto pratforms?
#7 Ask For a Second Opinion
Before you sign up or send any information, talk to a trusted friend or family member. Try to explain why you want to take up this offer. Let the trusted friend do a role-play as the most skeptical person that you need to convince.
Let them ask you what work is required from your side? Do you think it’s legal? Is it for real? Does it seem too good to be true? Be realistic and apply critical thinking yourself first and allow it from others.
#8 Follow Your Gut Instinct
The final tip I want to give you is just to follow your own intuition and gut instinct. If you feel something is too good to be true or not right, take a breather and do the thorough research from the above steps or stay away from it.
When you find a truly legitimate and quality program/product you shouldn’t have any doubts or reservations.
Create Your Own Real Business – Scam Free Way To Begin
If you are tired of scams and ready to put your time and effort into creating a real online business and asset for yourself, try Wealthy Affiliate.
It is an online training and mentoring platform to help you build your online business in any niche you choose. Focusing on affiliate marketing as a base and then being able to monetize your website in multiple ways. You can read my full review here. My website, that you are currently reading, is built on this platform.
Let’s apply the steps of how to spot an online scam that I’ve mentioned above and see why Wealthy Affiliate is a legitimate training and mentoring community and NOT a scam:
1. You can join for free, no credit card is required, only an email address
2. This is an established and trusted company founded in 2005 in Canada that evolves and innovates faster than the industry. You can check Google for the reviews, there are plenty of them.
3. You can stay a Free member as long as you wish and try Premium services for your first 7 days.
4. Free “Getting Started” training explains in detail how to make money online through the business model of affiliate marketing.
5. You can promote any affiliate offers you choose to help your target audience. You are not required to promote Wealthy Affiliate.
6. There’s no hype or empty promises of quick wealth. Rather you’ll learn a solid foundation of how to build a sustainable online business.
7. There is only one type of Premium membership at a fixed price. No upsells at all.
Also, if you have any thoughts or questions on any of the things covered in this post, leave a comment below and we’ll discuss. Please share any online scams you have come across, they are constantly evolving, and it’s all too common to encounter scams.
About John Stanley
John is a Father, Husband, Entrepreneur and Internet Marketing Support Coach. Ever since he started his Online Business he loves working from anywhere and the laptop lifestyle. This means being closer to our child as she grows up. When he’s not building websites, he’s spending precious time with our little girl and family, exercising and enjoys travelling.