Online job scams on the rise: How to protect yourself

Published: Feb. 2, 2012 at 2:56 AM CST|Updated: Feb. 2, 2012 at 1:05 PM CST
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AMARILLO, Texas---Online job scams are becoming an increasing problem across the nation and right here in the Panhandle region.

In 2011, the Amarillo Better Business Bureau fielded more than 100 calls from people allegedly duped from this type of scam.

We first met Kathyrn Joseph one year ago.

"I don't like to say I'm desperate but I guess you could say that," she said.

With two young children to care for, she was looking for work at home jobs like the kind found on Internet sites such as Craigslist.

Instead of finding a job, she found herself locked into a scam.

"A work at home scam is something that asks you for money up front, promises big gains for little or no work, and typically takes your money without giving you anything in return," Janna Kiehl with the BBB said.

That's exactly what happened to Johnson.

She spent money on a "job starter kit" to sell a product that never yielded profits.

The BBB says scams like these are more common than we think.

"The first place anybody looks is online to see what jobs are available either with companies located here or outside our area," Kiehl said. "It's just a way to do some research and people come across these ads and opportunities to assemble products or do medical billing."

Often, these jobs come with a pay scale twice what you would normally be paid in the workforce which Kiehl says is a big red flag.

Christine Durst screens thousands of job offers online and over the past three years, she's noticed bogus ads have skyrocketed.

"For every 62 we look at, 61 of them are scams and only one is legitimate," she said.

The BBB says to always be skeptical of businesses not based in your area or companies charging fees for information about a particular job.

Finally, use your gut instinct.

Kiehl says if it sounds too good to be true, chances are it is!

Because these scanners rest outside the United States, law enforcement agencies have a difficult time tracking down the criminals.

Even if the business is discovered to be a scam, law enforcement agencies say the crooks go on to create the same operation under a different name.

If ever in doubt, Kiehl says you can always check out a businesses accreditation on their web site,