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Monday, August 16, 2010

Don't get burned by the latest job scam

The recession and high unemployment rates have many people desperate for work -- and it's a situation made for scam artists who are always ready to take advantage of people strapped for cash.

(Tweets too good to be true? Read the fine print to avoid the latest online employment scams)

The latest scheme? Through Tweets, email messages and websites, job hunters are being told that they can make lots of money from the comfort of home using the popular micro-blogging site Twitter, the Better Business Bureau (BBB) warned in a recent release.

"Twitter is the newest bright shiny object online and a perfect hook for yet another work-at-home scheme," said Steve Cox, BBB spokesperson. "The pitch used to be about making money by sending e-mails or by placing ads on Google but now cash-strapped job hunters need to be wary of shelling out money for a dubious scheme that revolves around Twitter."

How does it work?

"Make Money With Twitter" schemes promise big returns, but the fine print can cost you dearly.

For example, an email picked up by BBB stated: "Twitter Workers Needed ASAP, You're Hired! Make Extra Cash with Twitter; As seen on USA Today, CNN, and ABC... Apply Now!"

The email links to a company out of Surrey, England called EasyTweetProfits.com, which claims you can make $250- $873 a day working at home with Twitter. All you need to do is pay $1.95 to cover shipping for a seven-day free trial of their instructional CD-ROM.

However, buried in the lengthy terms and conditions are the details that the trial begins on the day the CD is ordered -- not when it is received -- and if the consumer doesn't cancel within seven days of signing up, they'll be charged $47 every month.

Phony testimonials

Similar to other work-from-home schemes, phony blogs by made-up individuals have been created as testimonials to the success of Twitter-money-making programs.

According to the BBB, one such phony blog is called make-money-on-twitter.com -- supposedly by a Derrick Clark of Virginia -- where the author says he earned up to $5,000 a month posting links to Twitter. The blog also includes an image of the supposed check Derrick received for this work – but the exact same photo of the check is being used on other phony blogs for various suspect work-at-home jobs.

The blog links to TwitterProfitHouse.com which, similar to EasyTweetProfits.com, claims you can make $250-$873 a day working at home and offers a seven-day free trial of their instructional CD-ROM, for $1.99 shipping. But, again, if you read the fine print you'll discover that the trial period starts once the CD has been ordered --and the consumer will be billed $99.99 every month if they don't call the company to cancel.

"These websites have not been up for very long so, if experience has taught us anything, we know that it's only a matter of time before the complaints start coming in," Cox said. "Work-at-home schemes are like a game of whack-a-mole and new websites crop up practically every day."

Know the warning signs

If an offer to make-money-from-the-comfort-of-home sounds too good to be true, it probably is. Protect yourself from scams by recognizing these red flags:

--The "job" doesn't provide actual employment, but is actually a scheme to make money.
--The work-at-home "opportunity" claims that you can make lots of money with little effort and no
experience.
--You have to pay money upfront in order to be considered for the job or to receive more information.
--In the case of so-called Twitter opportunities, the exact same tweet touting the program is being posted by a number of different Twitterers. The links in such tweets could lead you to scam sites or install malware onto your computer.





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