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Offers of work are easy to find on the internet, but many are likely to be scams designed to attract you with sales pitches that promise what they can't deliver. Folks who respond to these ads often find themselves the victim of internet fraud, or worse: part of a criminal conspiracy that leaves them holding the bag for an overseas con artist who disappears without a trace. Before looking into internet opportunities of this sort, it's a good idea to know how to check out a hoax. Hoaxes that separate you from your money If an offer of employment requires you to pay a fee up front, odds are that it's either a scam or not worth your time. Often, supposed employers will tell you that before you start working, you need to purchase supplies or instruction manuals detailing the intricacies of their business. Usually, this is a scheme designed to get you to pay for material that's virtually worthless. These con artists use technical jargon or outright misinformation to confuse unwary people who would otherwise smell a scam a mile away. They'll require you to purchase a web site or domain name -- often at a cost substantially above market prices -- and try to lock you into regular payments that are deducted from your bank account or charged regularly to your credit card. It's a good bet that any employment opportunity is a hoax if you're required to shell out your hardearned cash before you begin earning. The rule of thumb is: employers pay you, you don't pay them. Hoaxes that defraud you Many internet hoaxes involve fake cashier's checks, fake money orders, or other counterfeit financial instruments. If a putative "employer" sends you one of these supposedly-legitimate checks as an advance on your earnings, then asks you to refund an overpayment back to them, it's almost certain that the check will fail to clear your bank. It's an urban legend that the bank is responsible for the money because it failed to detect the counterfeit check. Unfortunately, if you deposit a piece of counterfeit paper, you're obligated to cover the entire amount. Again: don't send money to people claiming to be employers. Learn how to check out a hoax and remember that employers don't pay up front for work that you haven't completed. Hoaxes that set you up for a fall Some hoaxes don't just mislead or defraud, they actually involve you in an international criminal conspiracy that can result in criminal charges and jail time. Internet scambusters have long

warned of overseas schemers who pay you to launder money through your own personal bank accounts. These schemes pay you a healthy percentage of the profits, but eventually, law enforcement comes knocking. Tip: if it smells fishy, it probably is. Nobody will pay you 25% for simply wiring money overseas unless there is a criminal element involved. Hoaxes that have you working for peanuts Finally, some work-at home opportunities are legitimate and risk-free, but you end up working for such meager wages that it's not worth the hassle. After all, internet employers can pay people from poverty-stricken parts of the globe pennies on the dollar for work that is labor-intensive but unskilled. Think about it: unless you have skills that are in demand, you will probably be paid commensurate with your abilities. Question everything If you learn how to check out a hoax before committing yourself to an offer that sounds too good to be true, you won't regret it. Above all, don't give out your personal information or email address unless you've convinced yourself that the work opportunity doesn't fall into one of the above categories.

Ian Pennington is an accomplished niche website developer and author. To learn more about How to Check out a Hoax, please visit Home Business Scam Blog for current articles and discussions.

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