Tamara here, from the AllClear ID Investigation Team. As an investigator, I work our customers’ cases involving identity theft, and try to find ways to help them, as well as other people nationwide who may be experiencing similar problems.

As the stock market drops and the unemployment rate soars, more fraudsters are plying “work at home” Internet scams. They’re posting “jobs” online, requesting payment to either get the materials to pass an exam, for “certification,” to guarantee an interview, or to purchase a starter kit for assembly. The scammers’ targets: the sick, disabled or elderly; the stay-at-home mother, the low-income or no-income family; the person without higher education; and someone looking to leave their current job.

Here are three of the most common scams:

  • The “craft assembly” scam requires that you pays for a starter kit, which includes instructions and parts. Once assembly is finished, you’re told the assembly doesn’t meet the specifications, so you’re not paid for the labor.
  • The “envelope stuffing” ruse promises payment per envelope stuffed. The catch: you need to send payment for the kit. Victims either receive nothing or instructions to hang fliers further promoting the scam.
  • In the “medical billing” scam, you pay a fee to obtain medical billing equipment, only to find out that medical facilities either do their own billing or contract a firm. The facility will tell you that your equipment and/or your database is outdated. You are not refunded for the equipment, and no one hires you.

Work-at-home scam ads are posted in a number of venues from online on job websites (even well-known ones like Monster.com and CareerBuilder.com), newspapers and posted on street lights near busy intersections.

Not only are victims sidetracked from finding a legitimate job, they lose a considerable amount of job-hunting time and, of course, money. It may even lead to legal trouble, as some victims are charged with abetting the scamsters who tricked them.

Monster.com and the Internet Fraud Watch offer advice for how to avoid getting roped into these scams and working for the wrong person.