January 1st, 2018

YouTube Moderator Scam Email

YouTube Moderator Scam Email

I get to start this year off with a lovely new scam email I received. It’s pretty simple. It says I have been made a moderator of a YouTube channel. On mine, the channel is called “Have Win Apple iPhone X Get It From: – (link)” – isn’t that a lovely name??? I wasn’t the least bit surprised to find that it was a YouTube Moderator scam email.

Here’s a screenshot of the email:

YouTube Moderator Scam Email

Yes, it really does seem that it comes from YouTube. These guys are starting a fake YouTube channel just so they can make people moderators of their channel and try to scam them.

The link in the channel name is the key to this scam. It shows up as a link in the email. When I checked things out in the Google Product Forums, some people had followed it and had even filled out the requested information. Don’t do that, folks. You should know better. Never share your information on sites you don’t trust.

There does not seem to be a way to keep people from making you a moderator on YouTube as of this writing. With this scam going around, I expect that Google/YouTube will be looking at things to find a way to control this scam.

One simple thing they could do is disallow domain names as usernames or in channel names. I don’t know that they would want to do that, however, as I’m sure many legitimate websites name their channels for their domain.

Better might be to say that you can only be made a moderator of a channel you already follow. This seems like a very simple thing to require to show that a potential moderator has already interacted with the channel in some way.

What To Do About The YouTube Moderator Scam Email

First of all, make sure you know the email is a legit one from YouTube before clicking any links in the email. I looked at this one very, very carefully before I reported it as spam and checked to see if the channel was still open so that I could report it. You don’t want to be tricked into logging in at a fake site. You also don’t want your name as moderator on a scam channel, even when it’s likely one of many, and utterly meaningless.

If you get this email, don’t overreact. I saw some people on the Google Product Forums who shut down their YouTube channels over this. I think that’s a huge overreaction. There is no indication that your channel has been compromised just because you got this email.

This scam email is really not a big deal. Hit the “report as spam” link in the email if you like, and go on with your life. YouTube wants to know about these channels quickly so that they can shut them down. They don’t like scams either. You can also go to the channel and flag it as spam if it hasn’t already been deactivated. The YouTube channel in mine had been shut down for violating the TOS. Surprise, surprise.

It amazes me that scams like this can work, but as I saw on the Google Product Forums, they apparently do, even on people who know enough to go to the product forums. Some ways that amazes me, but that’s just reality.

Be careful any time you get an email. Don’t trust it just because it comes from a trusted source. This one really did come through YouTube’s system because they found a way to get their fraudulent link in there. But it could just as easily been a phishing email from start to finish. Pay close attention to where a link really goes before you click one in an email… or anywhere.

Disclosure: Some of the links in this post may be 'affiliate links.' This means if you click on the link and purchase the item, I will receive an affiliate commission.

December 4th, 2017

Beware The Secret Sister Gift Exchange

Beware The Secret Sister Gift Exchange

I’m seeing the secret sister gift exchange all over Facebook right now. I have a few friends who are participating, and it just makes me wince. Simply put, the secret sister gift exchange is a pyramid scheme, and illegal.

A lot of people don’t understand that. $10 seems like such a small risk, and it is. But the odds of receiving the promised 6 or 36 gifts is poor, especially since it depends not only on how well you recruit people into it, but how well your recruits bring people into the deal as well.

How Is The Secret Sister Gift Exchange Supposed To Work?

The basic premise is so simple. You send your gift to the person whose name appears at the top of the list you receive. When you send the list to your recruits, you remove the person you sent a gift to, and put the second person’s name at the top. Your name becomes the second name on the list.

There is often a push to do this quickly, so that everyone gets their gifts. Your six people send to the top of the list, and their people, now totalling 36 people, send gifts to you. It sounds wonderful.

Legally, however, this falls under the same laws as chain letters and lotteries. It’s not something you want to mess with. Not many people will get in legal trouble for doing the secret sister gift exchange, but why try your luck? It’s a federal crime, according to the Post Office. It also may be a crime by the laws in your state.

Do The Math

If you do the math on the secret sister gift exchange, you can quickly see why it will quickly run out, even if everyone finds enough people and everyone sends their gifts. Both of those are pretty iffy themselves.

Six people each finding six people means they need 36 people. Those 36 people need a total of 216 people, who need 1296 people. Keep this going for five more levels, and you need 10,077,696 people. That’s a difficult number, but not completely impossible. Highly unlikely, of course.

It only takes 13 levels to get beyond the entire population of the planet. Even assuming some people participate more than once, it’s not going to happen.

This means it won’t take long at all for people to have trouble finding someone to send gifts. Many people who try to join in won’t get anything in return. Most will simply fail to get a full six people sending gifts, and their people in return will have trouble finding enough people.

You might get a few gifts, but usually that’s it. Between the number of people needed for everyone to get their gifts and the difficulty in recruiting people, it’s just not going to go that well.

There are also gift exchanges where the focus is on wine. It has the same problem as this one. Just don’t join in. The wine version also presents challenges in shipping it legally.

Talking Friends Out Of The Secret Sister Gift Exchange

It can be hard to call this out as a scam. I’ve seen people call friends names for trying to explain why the secret sister gift exchange doesn’t work or is illegal.

I would imagine that most people have trouble admitting the problems with the gift exchange because they’re already invested in it. They’ve promised to send a gift to someone else, or have even sent it already.

It’s worth a try, even if the friend who posts the gift exchange won’t listen. Someone else might.

Be polite when you try to discourage friends from this. No one will respond well if they feel foolish. You should also remember that the people participating don’t mean to scam or cheat anyone. They’re trying to do something fun. No one in this means any harm by it.

That doesn’t change the legal issues. Or the fact that eventually there are people who won’t get anything in return.

Then there’s the risk in putting your personal information out there for random people. You may know all the people you recruit into the gift exchange, but it’s the people they recruit who will be sending you gifts, and they’ll get your name and address too. Are you comfortable with that?

Alternatives To The Secret Sister Gift Exchange

It may be better to suggest setting up a basic secret Santa gift exchange, where everyone in a group draws a name and buys for one other person. No grand promises of dozens of gifts. Just a simple gift exchange among friends. It’s much simpler and legal when you avoid the chain letter aspects of the secret sister gift exchange. Best of all, you know that everyone gets a gift.

If you want something to feel good about, donate to a local cause. There are lots of wonderful causes out there, and even a $10 donation will be welcome. You won’t get a gift back, but you will have done something good.

As illegal actions go, this is a minor one, and I doubt many people ever get prosecuted for it. But why take the chance when a simpler gift exchange works just fine?

Disclosure: Some of the links in this post may be 'affiliate links.' This means if you click on the link and purchase the item, I will receive an affiliate commission.

May 12th, 2017

Spam And Scams From My Inbox

Spam And Scams From My Inbox

Once in a while I like to check out the spam box of my email account. Not only does this allow me to catch the false positives in there, some of the scams are educational to see. Most are pretty obvious when you look at them carefully, but they fool enough people that the scammers keep trying.

Not all of these are work at home scams. They’re just the ones I found interesting enough to share here. I’m going to ignore all the sex and dating ones. There are just too many. Be ready for lots of screen shots.

Amazon Order Scam

fake Amazon order

Where, oh where to start with this one?

We have the misspelled “Responde.” I can hardly even type it that way.

Next is the pathetic lack of trying on the “Amazon.com” that looks nothing like the logo. They weren’t even trying there. All in all, I’d call that a good thing. Makes them easier to spot.

Then there’s request to confirm the order. By email. Yes, hovering over that link indicates that it will start an email.

Less obvious, perhaps, is that the email is sent to an address starting with “ctedh2i.” I assume the sender used bcc and had to have something in the to: section, because I don’t have any email addresses like that.

Fake ATM Card

fake atm card

I have to admit to some curiosity on this. Just how does an ATM card “in cure demurrage” anyhow? What does that even mean??

It amazes me every time that I see it that this scam is still going around. Sure, they’ve change it some – it’s not a mysterious inheritance or some rich guy just deciding to give you money to avoid the government getting it. This time it’s a CORPORATE ATM CARD ALL IN BOLD from some African bank.

And then there’s poor DHL waiting to get a confirmation on your address. And you can see the pending scam so easily with the need for a Tax/Stamp Duty to be procured before shipment.

Alas, it will be a long wait for them because I’m not replying. I hope no one else does.

As a side note, I still get the standard mysterious person wanting to send me tons of money scam too. Often. Some even claim to be passed through the FBI.

Amazon Secret Shopper Employment

Here’s a long one. They’re trying hard to look real.

Amazon secret shopper scam

I love that Gmail not only put this in the spam file, but warns that this email fails Amazon.com’s required tests for authenticity. Good job all around. The email is painful to read, with the random new paragraphs, usually in mid sentence. I think I can tell how long a line their text editor had, because it’s pretty consistent.

This is an example of the standard secret shopper scam, which is still going strong. This one is quite blatant about saying you will get a money order for more than you need. For those who haven’t heard of it, the money order is fake, but they’ll have you cash the whole thing and send all but your “pay” back to them. Banks and stores are getting better at spotting the fake money orders, but some still get through, and it’s the person who cashed it who is liable. The $800-4500 this email quotes would be painful to pay back, wouldn’t it?

They’re trying hard to push the legitimacy button by claiming membership in the Mystery Shopping Providers Association (MSPA) and naming their supposed business. There really is a company called “Secret Shopper” and they are listed on the MSPA website, but this is not from them.

Nor is it from Amazon or Western Union. I’m quite certain cares very little about lapses in Western Union services. It’s not their problem. I’m somewhat amused that they want shoppers to find their nearest Amazon and Western Union outlet – I’ve been to the Amazon store in San Diego, and I don’t think they do that. I suppose it’s possible that an Amazon Locker location might also have Western Union services, but I don’t think it’s that common. But, the scammers promise you can spend $100 in the Amazon section, so I somehow think they’re trying for the stores.

Company Rep Scam

Finally something short and, well, not sweet, but at least it’s short.

company rep scam

Trust the red section from Gmail on the top. It’s a scam. They’ll steal your information, and if they get you to do anything else, it will be fake check or money orders, or forwarding packages bought with stolen credit cards. Either way, it’s bad news.

Disclosure: Some of the links in this post may be 'affiliate links.' This means if you click on the link and purchase the item, I will receive an affiliate commission.

January 24th, 2017

What If The Work At Home Job Is Legitimate But Illegal Or Unethical?

Most of the time when you look at a work at home job opportunity, you only have to worry about whether the job is legitimate. If the company is real, and they pay you, most of the time you’re in good shape. But there are a few cases where you may need to consider whether the work you’re doing is legal or ethical.

College Essay Writing Services

College essay writing services are one of those special cases where you should really think about what you’re doing. Writing for pay as such is legal, but in some states writing college essays for pay for someone is illegal. Consider California Education Code Section 66400:

“66400. No person shall prepare, offer to prepare, cause to be prepared, sell, or otherwise distribute any term paper, thesis, dissertation, or other written material for another person, for a fee or other compensation, with the knowledge, or under circumstances in which he should reasonably have known, that such term paper, thesis, dissertation, or other written material is to be submitted by any other person for academic credit at any public or private college, university, or other institution of higher learning in this state.”

Or Florida Statutes Section 877.17:

“It shall be unlawful for any person or business entity to sell, offer to sell, or advertise for sale any term paper, thesis, dissertation, essay, or report or any written, recorded, pictorial, artistic, or other assignment which the seller or advertiser knew or reasonably should have known was intended for submission by a student, unaltered to any substantial degree, in fulfillment of the requirements for a degree, diploma, certificate, or course of study at a university, college, academy, school, or other educational institution in the state.”

It’s a second degree misdemeanor in Florida.

Essay writing services try to get around these by saying that the papers are for use as guidelines, or for use in citations. You should decide how much you’re willing to trust these disclaimers before accepting such work.

Illegal or not, you should also consider the ethics of the matter. Are you comfortable with what your work would be used for? How would you feel about someone who had used essay writing services to make it through college, rather than graduating entirely on their own merits? Then there’s the risk to the student if the college catches them using a service. No college allows students to buy papers – all work must be your own.

Multi-Level Marketing

Multi-level marketing opportunities can be legal or illegal, depending on how they’re done. There are plenty of legitimate companies which focus on making sales rather than recruiting. But there are too many companies which are pyramid schemes, and are illegal.

The difference is in the focus. Is the company more interested in how many people you recruit or how much you sell? Some recruiting is necessary in any multi level marketing program, but it shouldn’t be the main thing. Too much focus on recruiting is one of the signs of a pyramid scheme.

Also look at the claims made about the products you’re selling. Companies as well as individual recruiters can make inappropriate claims about the products they sell, and if you make those claims, you may be liable for it.

You especially see this in any products related to health. Any claim about curing, treating, mitigating or preventing actual diseases has to be proven. Don’t make health claims that aren’t backed up by studies. There’s a fine line between stating your own experience with a product and making a health claim that might get you in trouble. If you’re looking at joining a company that makes any such claims about their products, find out how they back it up. Not only are such claims illegal, they’re as unethical as can be when they’re wrong.

Beware of making income claims too. Overstated income claims are all too common, and can get people and companies into trouble. There’s a huge difference between what top earners make in an opportunity and what the average person makes. The FTC expects income claims to be what someone can actually expect to make. Appropriate disclosures must be made before a new distributor can join.

What About Other Illegal Work At Home Jobs?

Most other illegal work at home jobs I already list in the scams section. Often enough, the illegal part hits victims fast enough that they won’t make money – they’ll be out money.

Take the reshipping scam, for example. You receive goods at your home and send them off to someone else. It turns out that the goods were paid for with a stolen credit card or counterfeit check, and you have now helped them in that crime and can be in legal trouble yourself. They might even pay you with a counterfeit check or money order. It’s just a nasty business all around.

Then there are the classic envelope stuffing or email processing scams. They’re pretty much the same thing – when you respond to the ad, you get instructions on how to place the same ad and have people pay you for the instructions. You might make some money, but the method you’re using is illegal. There are several variations on this theme, but they all amount to the same thing.  Just don’t.

I haven’t names every illegal job you could do at home. If you have your doubts about a work at home job or home business opportunity, investigate it and make sure it’s neither a scam nor illegal, and that you’re comfortable ethically with what you’re doing.

Of course, none of what I’m saying here is legal advice. If you’re concerned about any of these issues, take a careful look at what concerns you and decide if advice from an attorney is necessary. You’ll save yourself a lot of trouble if you keep aware of the law.

Disclosure: Some of the links in this post may be 'affiliate links.' This means if you click on the link and purchase the item, I will receive an affiliate commission.

January 23rd, 2017

The Check Cashing Scam Is Still Around

One of the scams I’ve seen here and there for years is the check cashing scam. It’s still around, but now the FBI says it’s targeting college students. That makes now a good time to review that scam so that you won’t fall for it and you might be able to help others avoid it as well.

The scam is pretty simple. You answer a job ad, and your supposed employer sends you counterfeit checks. You deposit it in your account, keep part and send the balance back to someone as a wire transfer. In this particular version, they may claim you’re sending the money to a vendor to buy equipment or other supplies for the job. You won’t know that the check is bad until it’s too late.

When you look at it, the scam ought to be easy to spot. This doesn’t keep people from falling for it, of course. Legitimate employers do not send you payment before you’ve even started to work, for starters. They also don’t generally send you a check and tell you to go through their vendor to buy the supplies you need for the job. You certainly don’t normally wire money to a vendor to pay them.

A legitimate employer will either expect you to buy what you need on your own or send the equipment and supplies to you themselves. I occasionally see job listings that say you will be allowed a certain amount of money to buy equipment, but that’s not likely to be mixed in with your regular pay… especially when you haven’t actually started yet.

This kind of scam can make your life very difficult for a time. Your bank account could be closed due to the fraudulent activity. You will have to pay bank back for all the money. You may have shared personal information that will make it easier for your identity to be stolen.

Scams like this are why you should always be careful when applying for work. That means here on this website, on your college job board, or any other job board. If something sounds wrong, check into it more carefully before sending in your personal information. You’ll save yourself a lot of heartbreak and financial trouble by avoiding work at home scams.

As a general rule, if you see a job opportunity of any sort, but something seems off about it, be careful. Scammers are often not native English speakers, and this may show in the job ad. Misspellings, strange capitalizations and poor grammar are clues that something might be wrong. Too much money for too little work is another clue.

If you are scammed online, you can report it to the FBI at https://www.ic3.gov/. You can also report it to the police. Local police may be limited in what they can do about an online crime, but it can be helpful for them to know what’s going around.

Disclosure: Some of the links in this post may be 'affiliate links.' This means if you click on the link and purchase the item, I will receive an affiliate commission.

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Disclosure: Home with the Kids is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to amazon.com. I also review or mention products for which I may receive compensation from other sources. All opinions are my own.