Questions to Ask
The Nigerian check cashing scam (also known as
the "419" scam, after the section of the Nigerian penal
code which addresses fraud schemes) involves the receipt
of email correspondence offering a job opportunity,
often transferring funds internationally. The scam
artists usually attempt to reassure the victim of the
legitimacy of the position by offering apparently legal
contracts, forged or false documents bearing company
letterhead, false letters of credit, payment schedules
and bank drafts.
Once the scammer has obtained the trust of their
victim they will begin the actual scam. Checks, money
orders or wire deposits will be sent to the victim for
"processing". The victim will be asked to cash the check
or money order (wire deposits will send the money
directly to the victim's account) and send a percentage
of the funds back to the scammers. The need for the
"middle man" is often explained as being a way around
international fees or taxes, and sometimes the need to
obtain payments from PayPal or another online payment
system. Once the funds are sent back to the scammers
(usually the victim is told to keep a percentage for
themselves, as payment for their services) the victim's
bank or financial institution learns that the
check/money order/wire transfer was fraudulent. The
funds are then subtracted from the victim's account and
they are made liable for the lost money.
Legitimate work-at-home program sponsors should tell you - in writing - what's involved in the program they are selling. Here are some questions you might ask a promoter:
The answers to these questions may help you determine whether a work-at-home program is appropriate for your circumstances, and whether it is legitimate.
- What tasks will I have to perform? (Ask the program sponsor to list every step of the job.)
- Will I be paid a salary or will my pay be based on commission?
- Who will pay me?
- When will I get my first paycheck?
- What is the total cost of the work-at-home program, including supplies, equipment and membership fees? What will I get for my money?
You also might want to check out the company with your local consumer protection agency, state Attorney General and the Better Business Bureau, not only where the company is located, but also where you live. These organizations can tell you whether they have received complaints about the work-at-home program that interests you. But be wary: the absence of complaints doesn't necessarily mean the company is legitimate. Unscrupulous companies may settle complaints, change their names or move to avoid detection
Where to Complain
If you have spent money and time on a work-at-home program and now believe the program may not be legitimate, contact the company and ask for a refund. Let company representatives know that you plan to notify officials about your experience. If you can't resolve the dispute with the company, file a complaint with these organizations:
- The Federal Trade Commission works for the consumer to prevent fraud and deception. Call 1-877-FTC-HELP (1-877-382-4357) or log on to www.ftc.gov.
- The Attorney General's office in your state or the state where the company is located. The office will be able to tell you whether you're protected by any state law that may regulate work-at-home programs.
- Your local consumer protection offices.
- Your local Better Business Bureau.
- Your local postmaster. The U.S. Postal Service investigates fraudulent mail practices.
- The advertising manager of the publication that ran the ad. The manager may be interested to learn about the problems you've had with the company
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