You are here

Work-from-home business fraud

What it is

An offer to make easy money by starting your own business by working from your own home. The scheme organiser will make you pay an advance fee, avoid paying you for the work you’ve done, make you buy worthless products or make you sign up others to the scheme before you’re paid.

Protect yourself

  • Any advert that tells you that you can sit back and let a business run itself is a good sign that fraudsters are at work.
  • Be wary of paying money in advance. The majority of legitimate employers shouldn’t require you to pay anything to start working for them.
  • If you’ve got involved with a scheme you suspect is fraudulent, keep any relevant letters, emails or documents as evidence. Don’t get other people involved.

Spot the signs

  • You’ve seen an advert online or via social media that says you can earn a specific or minimum amount of money by running your own business.
  • You’re told to call a mobile number (beginning with 07) or respond to a web-based email such as @yahoo or @gmail. Genuine businesses usually advertise a landline number and/or their own email domain.
  • You’re given a reason to pay up front, such as to register, buy customer leads, set up a website, buy products to sell, or get an instruction manual.

How it happens

A letter, advert or website asks if you’re interested in making easy money by working from home, or setting up your own online business.

The scheme looks very flexible and easy to work with, offering you the opportunity to choose when you work and enabling you to fit your work around your existing life, but may involve paying a fee to get you started.

The work itself could involve filling envelopes, assembling products or selling goods or services through your own website. In some cases, fraudsters may tell you there are faults with what you’ve done to avoid paying you. In other cases, the products you’ve bought or made are worthless.

Many of these business opportunities only allow you to earn money if you introduce more people to it. These are known as pyramid schemes.

Fraudsters may eventually sell your details on to others, so be alert to offers elsewhere.

How to report it

Report it to us online or call 0300 123 2040.