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Fraud advisory: Beware of work-from-home scams



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October 27, 2010 - Brandon Twp.- In the current economy, help wanted ads aren't what they used to be. But despite the scarcity of traditional employment, work-at-home opportunities seem to abound.

Beware.

Police are warning job-seekers, as well as persons who may already be employed, to not get caught up in work-from-home scams.

The Oakland County Sheriff's Office has issued a fraud advisory regarding work-from-home scams, in which victims are often recruited by cyber criminals through newspaper or online ads, e-mails or social networking sites, told that they can process rebates or payments, for example.

Once hired, the new employee is asked to provide his or her bank account information to the "employer" to establish a new account. Funds are then deposited into the account that the employee is instructed to wire to a third, often international, account. The employee is also told to deduct a percentage of the wired amount as commission. Instead of processing the rebates or payments, the individual is actually participating in a criminal activity by laundering stolen funds through his or her own account or a newly established account.

In February 2010, the U.S. Federal Trade Commission coordinated with state law enforcement officials and other federal agencies to announce a crack down on job and work-from-home fraud schemes that have increased due to the economic downturn. Knowing and unknowing participants in these schemes can be prosecuted.

According to police, to protect yourself from such schemes, research legitimacy of companies through the Better Business Bureau (for U.S. companies) at www.bbb.org or WHOIS/Domain Tools (for international companies) before agreeing to work for them and/or providing personal or account information.

TrustedSource.org can help consumers identify companies that may be maliciously sending spam based on the volume of e-mail sent from their Internet protocol addresses.

Never pay for the privilege of working for an employer and be suspicious of oportunities that require you to pay for things up front, such as supplies.

Never give bank account details to anyone unless you know and trust them.

If you think you may be a victim of a work-from-home scam, contact your financial institution immediately and report suspicious work-from-home offers to the Internet Crime Complaint Center at http://www.ic3.gov/default.aspx.

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