Spotting work at home scams isn’t all that easy at times. The more devious ones try to hide their nature by inserting legitimate appears features. A popular way that’s happening right now is with scammers using the names of legitimate mystery shopping companies to get people to cash their fraudulent cashier’s checks and send them the money.

It’s a pretty simple scam. They send you the cashier’s check, saying that it’s for you do do a mystery shop of the check cashing company. You are to cash the check, keep part of the money for yourself and send the rest to them by Western Union. The part you’re supposed to keep is enough to get many people interested because it sounds like such easy money.

The problem is that the check is fraudulent, and you will be responsible for the entire amount. The money you’ve sent to the scammers will be long gone by the time you find out that the check didn’t go through. If you’re already struggling financially, that’s a hard hit to take. It’s not a pleasant financial hit to take even if you aren’t struggling, as the amount is usually over $1000.

The trick is that they claim to be one of the legitimate mystery shopping companies. When you research the company name online, being an intelligent and responsible person, you see good things written about them from reputable sources. It’s one more step past the scam radar many people interested in working at home have developed.

However, it fails in one important area. The pay is too much for the type of work involved, often hundreds of dollars. No simple mystery shopping job is going to pay that much.

If you get something like this, and you aren’t sure what is happening, take some time and do some extra research.

First of all, did you ever contact the company that sent you the check, looking for work. If it’s out of the blue, it’s certainly not legitimate.

Second, contact the company using information on their website and ask them. They’ll tell you. Just be sure that you look up the legitimate website online so you aren’t contacting a fraudulent company looking for information. It’s good for them to be aware that their name is being used by someone else, even if there is often little they can do about it.

Third, don’t fall for a check cashing scam or mystery shopping scams. Mystery shopping opportunities do not come out of the blue. You sign up with the company and they show you opportunities available in your area, with strict instructions for when and how the shop must be completed. You must then accept the opportunity, and most expenses are reimbursed after the shop, not prepaid.

Be smarter than the people running the scams. Never let the dollar signs blind you to the research you should do before doing any work at home opportunity.