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A recent report in AARP’s Bulletin Today by Sid Kirchheimer, author of “Scam-Proof Your Life” (AARP 2006), says that with a tough economy more Americans are looking for new ways to bring home the bacon — often by working from home. But far too many fall victim to scams. According to Kirchheimer, the Internet has proved to be a great recruiting tool for work-at-home prospects, allowing scammers to hide their identities and post phony “testimonials.”

An October 2007 report by the Federal Trade Commission says that about 2.5 million Americans — nearly 1 percent of the entire population — fall for work-at-home scams each year, and many are repeat victims.

Here are two of the most common work-at-home scams:

    * “Bait-and-switch” schemes require up-front payment for materials. Victims may pay an initial cost and then not receive the promised supplies, instructions, or “client” leads; or they may receive some goods but then must shell out more for the “complete package.”
    * “Check-forwarding” scams occur when victims receive a check for promised or completed work only to be asked to wire a portion of it back to the scammer. The received check inevitably proves to be counterfeit, and banks hold victims responsible; victims may also face check-fraud charges.

For more information on preventing these scams, go to

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