Rarely has there been a riper time for con artists to come out of the woodwork to lure unsuspecting victims into their lairs, with such advertisements as "easy ways to make money", "quick money", and "how to earn money fast." The reason: The U.S. unemployment rate has been hovering around 9.6% and millions of Americans are currently out of work, desperate for any sort of employment.

"In a time of high unemployment rates, con artists exploit the vulnerabilities of unemployed Americans by falsely promising to deliver what these folks need most: a job that will enable them to put food on the table and pay the rent," says Monica Vaca, Staff Attorney with the Federal Trade Commission.

Earlier this year, the Federal Trade Commission announced a new crackdown and that it is redoubling its efforts to shut down con artists who are operating bogus job-placement and work-at-home schemes, many of which are advertised online or in local newspapers. As part of the law enforcement sweep dubbed "Operation Bottom Dollar", the FTC has filed numerous cases against operators of deceptive and illegal job and money-making schemes. In addition, the Department of Justice and state attorneys general have pursued criminal actions.

The top ten job scams include:

The "Envelope Stuffing" Scam
Scammers charge a fee (often between $44 and $64) for the envelope or postcard mailing opportunity. After paying the fee, consumers receive a package of materials, including postcards or envelopes, brochures and pre-printed address labels. It looks very official, but the postcards and brochures advertise work-at-home and other money-making opportunities, which are additional scams run by the same organizers.

The "Promise of Employment with the Federal Government" Scam
Beware of deceptive ads on job web sites promising careers with such Federal agencies as the U.S. Postal Service, Border Patrol and wildlife jobs in addition to clerical and administrative support positions. One such organization told people they could get these jobs if they paid $119 for study materials, which would allow them to pass any required test with a score of 95% or better. But those who paid the fee found that there were no exams for the positions they sought, or that the supposed job vacancies did not exist. The scammers also hawked career counseling services, charging $965 for services like resume editing and employment exam preparation.

The "Apply for Government Grants" Scam
Unsuspecting victims often fall for booklets sold by scammers that explain how to apply for government grants for work at home mailing out postcards and envelopes. These direct mail campaigns often target the elderly.

One such company allegedly conned more than 100,000 people by selling booklets for $9.99 to $99.99. Using a direct mail campaign, the scammers lured consumers with deceptive solicitations such as "Collect up to $9,250 with my simple three minute form" or "All I do is mail 30 postcards everyday and I make an extra $350 a week!"

The "Work from Home Assembling Crafts Scam"
Sounds simple enough: You see an ad explaining how you can make money assembling crafts or other products at home, such as "Enhance your income by hundreds of dollars a month..." These scans often ask for money upfront for equipment or supplies. The company promises to buy the goods that you produce.

But after you've paid money and done the work, the company doesn't pay you, supposedly because your work isn't "up to standard."

The "Rebate Processing" Scam
Scammers place an ad telling you how to earn money by helping to process rebates. There is typically a fee for training, certification or registration. What you receive in exchange for a fee are useless training materials. There will be no rebates to process.

The "Online Search" Scam
Beware of ads promising the ability to earn thousands of dollars each month by running Internet searches on prominent search engines and filling out forms. The truth is, these scammers are not connected with any well-known search engine. According to the Federal Trade Commission, they are just trying to trick you into giving them your credit card or banking information. If you pay them even a small fee online, they will use your financial information to charge you recurring fees.

The "Medical Billing" Scam
Scammers run ads promising full- or part-time work processing medical claims electronically with no experience needed. When you call the toll-free number, a sales rep tells you doctors are eager for help, and in exchange for your investment of hundreds or thousands of dollars, they promise to give you everything you need to launch your own medical billing business, including the software to process the claims, a list of potential clients and technical support. But the reality is that few consumers who pay for medical billing opportunities find clients or make any money. Doctors who contract out their medical billing use established firms---not inexperienced people who work out of their homes.

The "Pre-Screened" Lists of Jobs scam
Scammers are selling lists of supposedly pre-screened lists of work-at-home opportunities.These lists don't come cheap. They go for a fee ranging from $29.98 to $89.99. Scammers, in return, promise unlimited access to thousands of job lists and say that buyers of these lists will get their money back if they do not get a job. Often, the scammers will promote on search engines such search terms as "jobs for moms" or "work at home scam free" to attract unsuspecting victims.

The Mystery Shopper Scam
Scammers make false earnings claims by selling the opportunity to be a mystery shopper. Stay-at-home mothers and single mothers are often the targets. The scammers claim to represent thousands of retail establishments. Scammers charge a fee, typically around $34, and then send a package of materials with a pre-printed list of companies and addresses. Consumers are told to contact the companies directly to ask for job applications.

The "Money Laundering" Scam

A scammer wins the trust of a job seeker, then asks for his or her bank account numbers, perhaps under the ruse that it is need for the direct deposit of paychecks.

According to the Privacy Rights Clearinghouse, the "job" typically involves forwarding or wiring money from a personal bank account, a PayPal account, or from Western Union to another account, which is often overseas. As part of their pay, the job seeker is instructed to keep a small percentage of the money as their payment. Almost always, the money the victims are transferring is stolen, and therefore, the victims are committing theft and wire fraud. Usually, this kind of scam involves at least two or three victims.

Be wary of any ad, even if it is published in a reputable publication or website, if it promises a substantial income for work from home, especially if it requires an up-front fee or your credit card information. If you suspect you may be the victim of a scam, there are several places to turn for help. Be sure to contact the FTC's complaint division, the attorney general in the state where you live, your local better business bureau, and the U.S. Postal Service, which investigates fraudulent mail practices. To learn more about how to avoid being conned by employment scams, visit the FTC's website to view an educational video (also available on YouTube).

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You forgot one. There's a company that has offices in Alabama, Georgia and Florida. They're called "Pro Resources". They're supposed to provide a "staffing service", only you pay them a fee for allowing you access to the "contacts" in their computer's database. Classic bait-n-switch at it's finest, and they have this scam down to a science. This is how it works: You see an ad in the newspaper that you apparently qualify for. The ad lists the job's minimum requirements, so naturally, you assume you qualify for it, right? More on that later. Anyway, you call them to get more information about the job, and they convince you that this is your job. You make an appointment to speak with a recruiter. Again, another sales pitch. You get excited, so you sign up with them (after handing over your $200 - that you can't afford to lose, given this shaky economy, and your tight financial status). Ater you pay, you are then lead to their computers that contain their job databases. After you log in, you look up your job number, read it's more detailed description and requirements, and low and behold, you find that "your" job contains more qualifications that you DO NOT qualify for! Remember, they listed the MINIMUM requirements!! After the initial shock wears off because you know you've been suckered (and you compose yourself - which is hard to do at this point), you are then instructed to browse through their entire database (over 300 entries), which contains more jobs that you most likely do not qualify for, or are meager employment opportunities at best. Their main objective is to get you into their office! Their charismatic, well-rehearsed sales pitch takes over from there. Don't be fooled by their awards, plaques, and alleged testimonies. Save you $200. If only there was someone standing outside giving warnings to other potential suckers. You still need convincing? Google them! It's right there. Also, for more unmitigated proof, e-mail me at thedapperdad@yahoo.com.

September 12 2010 at 7:50 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

I can't contact the U.S. post office for anything, b/c they closed the post office in my town....makes me mad! :-< . They said they lost 200 million dollars! What a lie! There's never been that much money around here since the town got started in the 1800s. Anyway, how can they lose money, when the object of the post office is to provide a gov service. The gov is supposed to give the post office enuff money to cover it's overhead and pay it's employees. The gov gets that money thru taxes---yours and mine.

September 12 2010 at 2:12 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
1 reply to juliana's comment

The post office does not use tax money.

September 21 2010 at 9:06 PM Report abuse +1 rate up rate down Reply
Sweet Pooh

I"am afraid we havn"t seen anything yet!!

September 12 2010 at 12:37 AM Report abuse +1 rate up rate down Reply
Mary Pollard

Don't fall for scams where you pay a company to assembling crafts for them. Make your own crafts and sell them at flea markets. I see many people who sell jewelry, hand made clothes etc. at flea markets and make $100 or more on the week ends. Maybe not enough money to pay a rent but enough to buy food for the week.

September 12 2010 at 12:04 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

the writer only mentions 10 crooked companys, there is many more out there. you can bet these places all combined take in hundreads of millions of bucks a year, and take peoples money over the Federal wire system, i would rater see the goverment spend a couple billion on shutting down all these crooks than than what they spend it on, at least this way these crooks will be taken out of the system and the bucks people don,t get ripped off will go into the system in areas where it might help. The FBI has hundreads of field offices around the usa and 10,s thousands of workers they can sweep up this mess in no time, and put people to work and keep this country safer for the people, money is what makes a country like the USA (BOTTOM LINE) if it is crapped away buy all these crooks then this country will NEVER RECOVER.

September 11 2010 at 11:58 PM Report abuse +2 rate up rate down Reply
Mary Pollard

Being a mystery shopper is a way to earn some small change. I have been a mystery shopper and earned $12 for about an hours work. I had to look at movie trailers and fill out a form or call the office with my results. I have also evaluated shoe stores for their customer service. You do not need to pay to become a mystery shopper, just register at their website. There are some companies that will pay $60 for mystery shopping at apartment complexes. Search the web for their names.

September 11 2010 at 11:55 PM Report abuse +1 rate up rate down Reply

I have just added a comment and noticed I said sell phone instead of cell phone also it should have said --find local jobs in -your- area Change their item to there item -----Change os to so.... Sorry about all the spelling errors but I get upset when people take advantage of people in need.

September 11 2010 at 11:51 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

This is where washigton and all the high priced fbi and other agencys are waisting our tax bucks. These people are targiting the weak, hurt unemployed, these people are getting goverment money extensions to stay alive and not wreck the USA bucks. These places should be considered as a threat to this countrys people in times like this the FBI and all the chair riders getting good paychecks can close ALL these crooks down under many federal laws in a heat beat, prosacute them and take there money and put it back into the system, like they do with big drug dealers. These people are doing bussiness over the federal wire system ..the key word is FEDERAL they controll it and police it ... do your dammmmmm jobs washington instead of sitting on your butts collecting our POOR peoples tax bucks.

September 11 2010 at 11:41 PM Report abuse +4 rate up rate down Reply

I have read your artical and noticed one scam of many that was not listed. The one I am talking about are the ones that say--find local jobs in area through our free listings. All you have to do is to register with your name and sell phone number. I did as they asked and respectively got a form to fill out as to the particular job I was looking for. I did that also and hit send. The response was -- at this time there are no jobs available as per your job description. Fine -- hower the very next day I received 71 e mail "advertisement" from all over the place wanting to sell their item or sevice. To me this is a scam because people are looking for work to put food on the table and all they are getting is their information sold to other advertiser os the can send you more junk mail!!!!

September 11 2010 at 11:34 PM Report abuse +1 rate up rate down Reply

They didn't mention the "resume" scam, so I will. A company contacts you, telling you they have all kinds of high-paying, executive level jobs. You can have access to the information if you register with the scamming company and provide a copy of your resume. After you fill out the contact information page, you are directed to another page which gives you their rates for this "service." It's usually hundreds of dollars. I'm certain these cheats maintain accounts on the major job boards (DICE, Monster and CareerBuilder). That's how they get your email address or phone number. Bottom line: you should NEVER have to pay someone to find you a job. The moment they ask for money, run!

September 11 2010 at 10:00 PM Report abuse +1 rate up rate down Reply