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Business opportunity fraud

Business opportunity fraud involves an offer to become financially independent, or to generate extra income, by setting up your own business.

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

The scheme allows you to choose when you work and enables you to fit your work around your other responsibilities. The work itself could involve filling envelopes, assembling products or selling goods or services through your own website.

However, any products or services you are asked to sell are worthless and you won’t be able to sell them.
You have to pay money up front to register with the scheme, buy customer leads, set up your web site, buy products to sell on, or receive an instruction manual on how to run your business.

If you’re asked to assemble goods or fill envelopes, the fraudsters will find fault with your work and use it as a reason for not paying you.

Many of these schemes are straightforward pyramid schemes, where you will only earn money by introducing other people to it. For example: by selling them copies of the instruction manual.

Are you a victim of business opportunity fraud?

  • You’ve received an email or letter, seen an advert, or landed on a website explaining how you can make easy money by working at home, or by setting up your own online business.
  • You’ve paid money up front to register with the scheme, bought customer details, set up a new website, bought products to sell. However, the products are worthless.

What should you do if you've been a victim of business opportunity fraud?

  • Report it to Action Fraud.
  • Report any adverts for fraudulent business opportunities to the magazines, newspapers or web site operators that published them.
  • If you are asked to involve other people in the scheme, don’t.
  • Keep any letters, emails or documents relating to the fraud as possible evidence.

Protect yourself against business opportunity fraud

  • Beware of adverts for business opportunities that state you can earn a specific or minimum amount of money.
  • Any advert that tells you that you can sit back and let a business run itself is a good indication of fraudsters at work.
  • Look out if the scheme operators give contact details that include mobile phone numbers beginning with 07 or web mail email addresses such as @yahoo or @hotmail. Genuine businesses do not use them.
  • Don’t be tempted by seemingly easy offers for work. You might find your personal details sold on to other scammers and you’ll become seen as an easy target.

If fraud has been committed, report it to Action Fraud.

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