5 Work From Home Scams To Watch For

Posted: August 16, 2011

As conventional jobs for women sometimes don’t work, working women in India seek work from home options. But here are the work from home scams to avoid!

With many women opting out of the traditional workplace and looking for alternative work options, infinite work from home scams have sprung up over the past few years which have conned working women in India out of time, effort and even money.  According to the cyber crimes cell, at any given point there are around 300 work from home scams making the rounds of the internet, most of them targeting working women in India who want to work from home or retired people.

How do you distinguish between legitimate work from home jobs and work from home scams? Here are five work from home scams you should avoid, and some tips to launch your work from home career.

Filling online surveys 

The most recent example of online survey scams is the Speak Asia scam. A friend with a three month old had enrolled in the Speak Asia scheme despite niggling doubts, simply because she saw others in her family join. She says, “It did seem too good. Pay Rs 11,000 up front and get paid Rs 1000 for two short online surveys per week. And the ads were all over, which convinced me that maybe all was well with the company.”

When the Speak Asia scam burst, she was one of the casualties. At last count, over 19 lakh panellists of Speak Asia had not received the promised income per week since 13th May and the company owes them approximately Rs.2,280 crore.

MLM schemes

Many Multi-Level Marketing (MLM) schemes depend on members roping in other members and getting paid commissions for the sales of those members too. While not all MLM companies are frauds, many have overpriced products that are very difficult to sell, and pressurize members to keep paying for new products, training schemes or promotional material. One such notable MLM fraud was the JapanLife scheme wherein one bought a magnetic mattress for an amount close to Rs 1 lakh and roped in other buyers in a MLM scheme which eventually fizzled out.

While some such jobs for women may be an ‘opportunity’, first evaluate:

– Will people in your circle shell out the amount being asked for such products?

– Do you have the time and energy to do the hard-selling required?

– Will your revenues depend more on adding new members than selling products?

Hint: The answers to the first two questions above should be Yes, and to the third one No!

Data entry jobs for women

While many data entry and transcription companies may be above board, others are dubious. Some companies have impressive websites and hold seminars in five star hotels but demand a down payment/fee for people to register with them and promise a fixed income per month which sounds tempting. Once you register, these firms might even pay you for a month or two before disappearing completely.

According to Reema Jagtiani, Homemaker, “I signed up for a transcription firm online. The work seemed easy and I did get a couple of calls. They asked for my bank account details to remit the payments and I worked for a couple of months, after which the website just shut down. The emails went unanswered. And of course, I never saw my money.”

Telemarketing opportunities for working women in India

Unless the opportunity is from a reputed firm, be wary. Most firms get a database of information and contacts built up through a telemarketing network, conduct investment seminars for time share resorts etc, and then disappear into thin air.

Media freelancing jobs for women

Content writing or freelancing for media, while not strictly a scam, is another work from home job with a dodgy reputation for payments. Sunayana Roy, Freelance Writer, confides, “I wrote a school textbook for a well-known publisher and never got paid. They simply never got back to me after I sent in the first draft. Since then I have learnt never to send in a first draft in its entirety. I had a contract to write a few more in the series which never materialised; nor did I get paid for the weeks of work I put in.”

Sub-contracting can also be a reason for working women in India getting scammed. Sunayana mentions an incident where content writing work was outsourced to her by a relative, on behalf of a publishing firm – she ended up unpaid and not being directly contracted, could not recover her dues from the publishers too.

Keeping yourself safe from work from home scams

Priyanka Chaturvedi, Director, MPower Consultants, says, “Before getting into any of these stay at home and get paid schemes, women should first verify the authenticity of the claim the company is making, which is not very tough if you just check with others, or do a bit of research on the net before being taken in by their claims. Whenever a big amount of returns is spoken of, it should always, always be looked at with scepticism before jumping at the said offer.”

To start with trust your instincts. If it seems too good to be true, it probably is.

– Ask questions before you sign on the dotted line. Research the company you are signing up for thoroughly before starting work. Google the name of the company and the names of the representatives you are dealing with.

– Never pay money to get work. Online schemes offering payment for surfing websites, filling in online questionnaires, writing reviews, rating or reading ads, demand money upfront to join and offer to pay you ‘interest’. It will probably get you a return to start with, but eventually the company is almost certain to go belly up. Also, make sure you get paid for work done before taking on more work.

– Look at the nature of work. If it is too little work, or unspecialized work for what seems like a ridiculous fee, it could be a scam. If the work hours mentioned are minimal, timings to suit yourself and with no skills or no fixed deliverables, you’re walking eyes open into a scam.

– Online, if you spot long rambling text, lengthy testimonials from unknown people, get warned and wary. Talk to others who have signed up and not just ones the company recommends you speak with. Ask around amongst friends and family if they have heard of it. If the people who run it insist you keep it exclusive and secret, you might have cause for concern.

– Some schemes like a business franchise might not be a scam, but do ask all the right questions and do your background research because it does involve large investment to become a franchisee.

– Visit the company’s office, if possible. Find out where their head office is. Ask for names and numbers of senior personnel. Google and find as much detail as you can. A head office with just a PO Box number is not acceptable.

And finally, never, ever respond to unsolicited spam mail offering you a work from home opportunity. Some might add, being a homemaker is in itself a work from home scam, but do take that with a pinch of salt!

Popular mommy blogger and Author of The Reluctant Detective.

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3 Comments


  1. Very informative and a highly useful article. It is scarily easy to fall into the trap of these scams and it helps to be told what to look out for.

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  3. Nikita Sengar
    Nikita Sengar -

    Useful. Thankyou for bringing this topic out

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