Work-from-home scams

Far from dying out, work-from-home scams are more dangerous than ever.
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Work-from-home offers that show up on telephone poles, in your inbox or as Google or Facebook ads can be tempting, especially if money and time are tight. 

In this article we explain:

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An operation calling itself Mercury Industries, for instance, promises: “No cold calling, no selling to family and friends, no door-to-door sales! Just sales support for our growing company.” And while it’s true there is no cold calling, the offer is to take part in a money-laundering scheme that could see you do jail time.

Money laundering schemes are just one type of employment scam that has recently become popular with fraudsters in Australia. 

Western Australia’s consumer protection service, WA ScamNet, receives about 150 reports and enquiries regarding employment-related scams every month.

And scammers have plenty of incentive to keep on scamming. According to an Australian Institute of Criminology online survey, in 2009 work-from-home scams duped more Australians than any other type. More than 30% of people who fell for a scam, it found, fell for this type of scam.

Risks and consequences

According to the survey, 14% of work-from-home scam victims lost personal information, such as their bank account details, as well as money, making themselves vulnerable to identity theft.

Money laundering scams are the most dangerous. As Justice Minister Brendan O’Connor has warned, “Members of the public are being turned into money mules and are exposed to criminal charges themselves”.

In 2007, Adam (not his real name) was prosecuted for transferring about $3 million to China and Hong Kong in more than 300 transactions, each of them less than $10,000 to avoid detection. 

He thought the funds were heading overseas to evade Australian tax. In fact, they were proceeds of a crime his “employer” had committed. He was sentenced to five-and-a-half years prison.



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