5 Common Virtual Staffing Scams (and how to spot them)

Posted on Aug 23, 2017 by admin

If you’ve ever come across a job description online that appears too good to be true, it probably is.
Unfortunately, it seems that for every ‘perfect’ virtual assistant job, there are five scam jobs that don’t exist. For the average internet user, they may be hard to spot. However, for the seasoned virtual staff member in need of extra work, job scams stick out like a sore thumb.

For those new to virtual jobs, below are five common virtual staffing scams, and how to avoid them.

Data entry scams

Data entry scams are becoming more and more common, especially with such an increase in people looking for the flexibility to work from home. The problem with these scams is that they are particularly difficult to spot, at least initially. You can be targeted either randomly via unsolicited email, especially if you put your contact information on a job seeker’s platform. The first sign of a data entry position scam is often the first email. Is it sent from a reputable business email address or from a Yahoo or Hotmail address? Although there are still many businesses using generic email providers, it can be the first of many points to note.  

The second alarm bell is if they offer you a ‘training’ day. Generally, scam artists will send you a check in order to buy supplies/services from a particular ‘person’ to complete data entry. This could include software or computer server access. Many people affected by this scam say they banked the check, wired the money to the person who would be completing the job, only for the check to bounce. This left them out of pocket, as well as footing the bill for bank fees.

You can avoid this kind of data entry scam by questioning every part of the job process. Never foot the bill for any kind of training or equipment needed to complete the job, and never give out personal banking information.

Personal assistant scams

When you’re looking for the ideal virtual assistant position, you will most likely come across with many fake ones as you would with real ones. The reality is, the internet is rife with fraudsters looking to make money from naïve or fooled people who simply want to work for their living. Personal assistant scams are on the rise, but there are a few things you can do to avoid falling as a victim.

When you first see a personal assistant vacancy, it pays to be aware of how much information they give you.

This can include:

  • Their business name – is it legitimate? Do they even provide it?
  • The supposed salary – is it realistic? If it seems too good to be true, remember it probably is.
  • If you contact them about the position – do they respond instantly with a job offer? If so, that’s most certainly a scam.

Put yourself in the position of a real employer looking to hire a virtual assistant. Will they hire the first applicant who responds to the ad? Would they hire you without asking a single question? There is so much more to the process, and these points alone are reason enough to move along to the next possible opportunity.

Unfortunately, personal assistant scams can often be very dangerous. You could be in charge of moving money around which may seem legitimate, but is usually not. Your ‘employer’ could very well be involved in money laundering. This puts you right in the middle, and does not bode well should you be caught.

Working-from-home job scams

Everyone, at some stage, would wish they could work from home. After all, think of all the spare time you could have with not having to commute, and the money saved through not needing childcare. Unfortunately, there are so many working-from-home job scams online that offer pure disappointment and not much else. If you receive an email out of the blue about a home position that will enable you to ‘get rich quick’ or ‘earn thousands in days’, delete the email and use a legit online virtual staff finder service instead. Many of these ‘job offers’ will ask for money in exchange of the materials needed to work from home. Have you ever known a job that makes you pay so you can work? Unless you’re buying a business, it simply doesn’t happen.

The best thing you can do is to be aware of those proposals that just can’t be real. Do not respond if you spot any.

Writer job scams

Unlike many other virtual staffing scams, writer scams can happen to any writer in any town and any country. You don’t need to be naïve or easily fooled. Writing is a service that’s risky, regardless of whether you’re being scammed or not. Unless you use a safe platform that will hold the payment in escrow, you run the risk of never being paid for the writing services you provide.

A very common scam is people requesting the services of a writer through a job listing website. The writer then completes the work and the client disappears without a trace. They now have your content, and you have no money. They can complete this several times with several different people until they build up the content they need for their own project. They didn’t even need to spend a cent.

There are things you can do to protect yourself:

  • Use a reputable freelancing platform which holds money in escrow.
  • Ask for half of the payment upfront, or a down-payment. A genuine client would not mind fronting up a small amount of money.
  • Research about the client and ask plenty of questions. Google becomes your friend in this instance.
  • If they ask for sample work, provide them with a pre-written sample to show your capabilities – not sample text on the topic of their choosing.

Email forwarding job scams

Many years ago, paying for envelope stuffing was later discovered as a scam. All you had to do was pay for the materials and you could make big bucks on each envelope. It was, of course, a scam. As we’re now in the digital age, a new scam is doing the rounds in the form of email forwarding for cash. All you need to do is forward emails on behalf of the company and earn huge money! It’s that easy! But that too, is a scam.

The problem is, this position, like many of those mentioned in this article, are all genuine positions somewhere. Somewhere along the way, scam artists decided they could use genuine positions to their advantage by creating fake ones. It is important to understand how to avoid virtual staffing scams by doing your own research and relying on your instincts.


  • Research about the supposed company or business that offers the position, as well the contact.
  • Paste the email address into search engines – this often brings up several other very similar situations courtesy of the very same email address.
  • Keep your money in your pocket – you should never pay to get paid!

Unfortunately, we’re never going to get a job as easy as we would like – or with the pay packet of the President. If you believe you’ve found your perfect job, always check to make sure it’s legitimate. You are not going to get rich overnight through working as a virtual assistant, nor will you earn mega bucks holding money for a ‘work-from-home lawyer’.

Ultimately, the only way to achieve financial success is by finding a legitimate virtual – or physical – job position, and working hard at it.

Have you been affected by a virtual staffing scam? Do you know someone who has? Get in touch and let us know all about it!

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