Unfortunately, although you will find hundreds of homeworking vacancies advertised in seemingly reputable newspapers and magazines, many are no more than rip-offs and are not offering any genuine employment at all.

Additionally, once you have responded to one “offer of employment”, you’ll find your name and address appearing on mailing lists of homeworkers and receive dozens more “offers” in the post.

First of all, you need to distinguish between companies offering homework, and those offering a business opportunity. There are many genuine home business opportunities available, but you should be wary of any that claim it is easy to make vast sums of money in a short space of time, or that say you need little or no money to start up. To be successful in any business you will need to let people know that you are out there i.e. advertise. There is no point skimping on advertising costs, be it placement of the ads, stationery, brochures, mailing lists or any other costs. A good company will make you aware of this at the outset. Look at our business opportunities page for suggestions. If you have had any experiences, good or bad, with any of the companies mentioned, let me know.

Note – whilst the dictionary definition of a scam is a fraudulent business scheme, the word is generally accepted to include any offer that is not necessarily fraudulent but worded in such a way as to give the impression of being something other than the average person would expect, and this wider definition is used here.

If you’ve had any experience of any scams not listed on this page, please e-mail me on giving me details of the company involved and any details you have. Contact phone number appreciated as we frequently have TV, radio and press researchers requiring case studies.
Homeworking Scams

Homeworking Scams fall into four main categories; directory scams, recruitment scams, craftwork scams and pyramid schemes.

Directory Scams. If a company is claiming to offer a variety of different types of work it is usually not offering any work at all, but is selling a directory – usually between £10 and £25 – of other companies claiming to offer work. Sometimes the company will actually tell you it is selling a directory of hundreds of companies offering homework, but what you will actually receive for your money is a list of companies who almost all want their own registration fee and will fall into one of these three scam categories, assuming that is they still exist or are even looking for workers. The remainder will be such things as lists of shopping catalogues. There can’t be many people who don’t already know about these. Also, don’t be taken in by companies offering to refund your fee if you don’t find work. Their conditions make this impossible.

Recruitment Scams There are two types of recruitment scams. You’ve probably seen the first, and less serious of these in newsagents windows among other places offering homeworking opportunities. You are told that you will be paid for envelope filling, or redirecting envelopes at anything from 25p per envelope to £1.50 per envelope. You usually pay a registration fee in the region of £15 and may get a homeworking directory for this price. (see above) However it is dressed up, all you are doing is trying to recruit other people into the same scheme, so you only earn your money by ripping off other people. Don’t get involved. Too many companies to list, but some of the most active are listed below.

The second type of recruitment scam is far more serious and shows no sign of going away, in that you are either being duped into handling stolen funds or you give sufficient information about yourself for your own identity to be stolen. See our employment scam page for full details.

Craft Scams You may see these in newsagents windows, but more often these will appear in local and national newspapers. You are invited to send a registration fee to a company for a start-up kit for making up items, to return to them on completion. Unfortunately, when you receive the kit you will either find substandard or inappropriate materials, or missing instructions and that they take considerably longer to complete than the advert suggested. This however, is largely irrelevant as the company will invariable reject your finished goods on the basis that they fail their spurious quality standards. It will not be possible to meet these standards as the companies have no intention of paying out any money. If you really wish to make the items offered by these companies you should consider buying the materials from a craft supplier and selling through local shops, stalls etc. Most small shops will be happy to sell on sale or return. If you don’t know where to begin, take a look at “Secrets of the Craft Business”

There are also many chain letters doing the rounds – you may recognise the names Sally Brooker, David Rhodes or Edward L Green. You are asked to send £1 to each person on the list and then circulate the letter to 200 or more people. You will spend a fortune on postage and mailing lists and get nothing back. Don’t do it! The only use for these lists is to use the names to compile your own mailing list.

Also avoid companies offering get-rich-quick schemes, without telling you what is involved. In almost every case they are merely selling you a manual containing nothing you don’t already know, often simply a few pages telling you to send out mailshots like the one you signed up from.

E-Mail Scams A new development has been the use of e-mail to try to recruit people into scams. In some cases these are simply being used as an alternative to direct mail eg chain letters and flyers from companies like IS Trading below. Others are sent out giving the impression you can actually earn from home using your computer. eg.

We are currently hiring serious homeworkers. Positions: home typist, clerk, secretary, supervisor. Earn $3500 – $5000 per month! Experience is not necessary. Part time/full time. Anywhere in the world! Apply now!

However these turn out to be no more than an e-mail version of the envelope scams above. By sending out hundreds of e-mails you earn a few pence (or more often cents) for each response you get. Of course you’ve had to pay a “deposit” to deter “timewasters” which you only get back when you’ve conned the required number of potential homeworkers and even if you do manage to generate sufficient enquiries the chances are that the company will find excuses not to pay you.

Pyramid Schemes. You’ll see these frequently advertised in Exchange & Mart. These are programs claiming to offer you the chance to earn thousands every month, yet when you look into them the only way anyone makes money is by recruiting others and getting paid a cut of the joining fee. They are often dressed up so that it appears you are earning from other means as well, although the other options are totally unrealistic. In many cases these days you are provided with your own replica website for which you pay a ridiculous sum of money, half of which goes to the person who recruits you. To get around pyramid selling legislation these companies tell you you earn commission on all sales made through your site, but with thousands of identical sites the only sales you are ever going to make are to yourself. In fact the companies featured on these sites all offer free affiliate programs where you can earn commission without paying any fees to anyone. Typical examples of this type of scam are Armchair Tycoon and Host4Income. See for further details on the Host4Income scam and for copies of correspondence regarding Armchair Tycoon.
Other Scams

Telephone Scams. You get a call on your mobile – it only rings once or twice then cuts off so that your mobile shows a missed call. Even if you do try to answer immediately you do not get connected to anyone, just a ringing tone which no-one appears to answer. However, the scam is that, if you listen carefully when you try to ring a scam call, it rings once or twice, then there’s a gap of silence, followed by more ringing – what they think the scammers are doing is letting the call be answered by a answering machine and instead of you getting a message they play back to you the sound of a telephone ringing so you don’t realise it has been answered

The number of the caller will be something like 07016 which is similar to that of a mobile phone number. In fact the 070 prefix indicates what they call “follow me” numbers – it’s a number which you can ring and the person can redirect the call to their home, their mobile, their office, or wherever they are – the number in itself should not cost you any more than a normal mobile call to ring and there is nothing in itself suspicious about an 070 number. I myself use them to avoid informing everybody when I change phone numbers.

The way some of them work is that the caller is billed at a slightly higher than normal rate, but not premium rate, and the owner of the number receives a cut of the call revenue, usually around 1p a minute. The scammers won’t be earning much on each call, but as a numbers game, it presumably all adds up if enough people ring and leave it “ringing” long enough.

Virus Warnings Although there is no financial implication here, another version of the chain letter is the virus warning where you are told about a supposedly deadly computer virus and told to pass the message on to everyone you know. These viruses are usually totally ficticious and cause panic to the uninitiated. To avoid worrying about viruses or passing on scaremongering bogus information, you should always have up to date anti-virus software on your computer if you use the Internet. They are incredibly easy to use. You simply buy or download one if you didn’t get one with your computer and then log into their site to update at regular intervals. Don’t just install it and forget about it as new viruses are being developed all the time. For more information on virus protection and other PC Security visit our new section at

Complaints Received

If you’ve had any bad experiences, let me know and I’ll add the details here. Similarly if you’ve had good experiences with any of these companies, let me know. These are just a very small cross section of the complaints received, and where indicated are purely personal experiences (unedited, complete with any grammatical and typing errors) and have not been independently verified. Whilst the existence of a complaint on this page does not necessarily mean the company are operating a scam, it may suggest that the offer of work is not as straightforward as initial advertising led the applicant to believe, so make sure you understand what the offer entails particularly if you are to part with any money. E-mail me if you’d like information on a particular company if you have any concerns.

IMPORTANT – If you’ve received e-mails offering work as a Transaction Manager, financial manager or any other job requiring you to process payments for an overseas company, visit our employment scam page for full details of this type of scam.

I S Trading, 39 Queens Road, London N11 2QP – Somehow manage to keep trading despite obtaining registration fees for typing work but never actually providing any. They have been featured countless times on Watchdog, in the press etc and last year Trading Standards raided their offices and found application forms from 8,000 people who had sent in registration fees of £15 to £20.

The message may finally be getting through as they have now changed their name to Top-Star MailShare, and are charging more, presumably to cover the refunds they are making as people become more aware. They have also traded as IS Enterprises which may make similar “offers” of work, but expect further name changes as these too becoming recognised.

See for ASA adjudication on this company.

Please note Top-Star Mailshare is not linked in any way with legitimate marketing company Top Star Marketing Ltd, who do not and never have offered home work and whose core business is active marketing for the motor industry and the motorsport arena.

Leading Edge Inc, (Also known as Lands End or L.E. Marketing Services or Data Marketing Direct etc. etc) PO Box 133, Shildon, Co Durham, DL4 1YW or PO Box 3, Caerphilly, Mid Glam. CF83 3YX and other Welsh PO Box numbers.
Registered office is 229 Nether Street, London, N3 1NT

Case History

I have just been humiliated by a company I thought I could trust. I am that sort of person who will not be sucked in, Well now I have.

I received a letter for stuffing envelops. It was 25p per envelope and I was looking for work I can do at home for extra money as I’m skint. It said you can do as much or as little as you like so I thought I could do at least 500 a week at home in my spare time.

I sent £35.00 for my starter pack, which did not specify what was in it, I expected allot. I received a jiffy bag with 21 envelopes 21 addressed labels and instructions on what they wanted me to do. It also told me to affix 21 2nd class stamps which I thought was cheeky.

I did exactly what they asked me to do by the letter, I was so careful because I new how funny these people can be.

So far it has cost me £35.00 package 21env 21 labels 1 instruction letter; the postage £3.99 21 x 2nd class and 89p to post it all. I should have received £5.25 for the work I had done as well. Anyway, today I received a letter and 1 envelope containg one envelope and letter I had sent, it read as follows, ( in short) I am sorry to have to let you know that following receipt of your agency work I have to inform you that the batch was unacceptable. In accordance with your instructions no payment can be made and no further work forwarded.

If you could see this envelope you would agree it is ludicrous to even think about rejecting my work as they said the label was not central and inside the letter folded perfectly had a red line along it which I don’t understand.

They then tell me that if I want the rest of the assignment back to reclaim the postage ( How the hell do you do that ) send a C4 size STAMPED addressed envelope otherwise the batch will be destroyed in 10 days from the date on the letter.

Basically I have been conned and I feel bloody stupid and annoyed that they might get away with this. So sorry to go on but I’m in tears here with this, I Hope they know what they do to people.

Homeworking Opportunity – Company name withheld

I came across an advert in the Loot paper, advertising for homeworkers. This advert seemed very genuine, and stated that they pay a rate of £1.60 per every envelope stuffed plus £5.00 commission on every order. This i thought seemed very ideal for me as i was in desperate need for an extra income. However now i feel so stupid and nieve, to not for one minute think that this was a scam. After sending off a S.A.E to the company i got a letter back (the next day to my surprise). The letter seemed so believeable, stating that i could earn up to £200- £500 per week. This was more money than i earned in a month, and i was in so much debt that i thought this was a great oppurtunity! They asked for a registration fee of £50 plus £4.99 post and packing. This i thought was rather a lot for a reg fee, but i was so desperate to make all that money that i just did it. Anyway they said i would get my deposit back after i sent my first 50 envelopes out (i still feel sick to my stomach when thinking about how much they tricked me), and a few days ago i received an envelope containing a number of adverts and leaflets, of the same advert that i found in the paper. So basically i paid £50 to scam other people. I feel so upset and angry as that was £50 i didn’t have to give.
Transcribe Recruitment (UK)
82 Great Eastern Street, London EC2A 3JL

NOTE – VSystemgroup, mentioned below, are not connected in any way with VSYSTEMS Ltd of who are a totally legitimate company.

“All started at the beginning of april, when this company contacted me on the phone claiming that I applied for one of their vacancies on the internet (I do not remember doing that).”

“They sent me an information package with a demonstration CD. The job offered was data entry for a medical company, paid £12/13 per hour. It all seemed very serious and realistic.”

“All I had to do was pay £99 to another company, VSysTek UK Software Distribution Studios (1 Providence Street, King’s Lynn, Norfolk PE30 5ET UK), for the use of the software called VSystem VoiceData Plus, Which I did, I sent a cheque.”

“Now, the software is not working, they sent me another CD but the installation is to take place online but there are continuous faults or technical problems.”

“Now Transcribe say that they are not working with that software any longer, so if you want another job you have to pay for the licence for another program to some other company.”

“So I ended up paying £99 and wasting time for nothing.”

“The case history on your web site is almost identical to mine. I was approached by Transcribe’s Lynn Cartride asking me if I was interested in working from home earning £12.60 an hour for typing in messages. I agreed, I paid the £99.00 for the software, now Transcribe’s rep John Marshall (telephone 07092 024 544) is highly offhandish and aggressive”

If you have installed this software on your computer, you should be aware it contains spyware and adware that will watch what you do and record where you go on the internet. For more information on this and to find out whether your computer is infected, visit spywarenuker. Incidentally if you’ve ever downloaded anything from the Internet, I’d recommend you check whether you have any spyware or adware running.

Transcribe and VSysTek both claim to have now ceased trading, but be wary of any offers of work that require you to purchase software.

If you’ve had any dealing with Transcribe and have any further information about them, please let me know.

UPDATE – I am receiving daily e-mails from victims of this scam so to find out the latest, visit our new page of Transcribe experiences and other correspondence.

NOTE – VSystemgroup are not connected in any way with who are a totally legitimate company.


offer work filling envelopes. You pay £35 pounds in advance as a joining fee and only then do they tell you that you will:

* Have to buy stamps for 250 envelopes {this is a minimum }
* You had to get the leaflets printed from a professional printer
* The envelopes had to be bought from a supplier of their choice
* You were required to send a minimum of 250 a week,
* The envelopes had to be returned Recorded Delivery
* And then and only then “IF” they were deemed satisfactory would you be paid approx £138 (approx 35-40p per envelope) but of course it’s all payout first with no guarantee you would get your money back

C R Associates – This company claims to offer all types of work but actually provides you with the shortest directory I have seen. For £15 you get a short booklet with full page adverts from about a dozen companies, none of whom look genuine. Two, for example, I know operate scams.

The Homeworkers Register – This company was operated by A Miller from 665 Finchley Road, London NW2, now R Miller of 55 Derby Road, Croydon. For £25 he claims you will receive a regular free homeworking magazine which lists a large selection of homeworking opportunities to meet every requirement, and that you can have your name and address circulated to companies requiring homeworkers, enabling them to contact you direct. They then detail the types of work available, specifically mentioning a variety of craft work, packing and typing.

The reality is somewhat different. What you actually get is a directory listing hundreds of names and addresses with no explanation of the work offered by each company. In the eleven months since receiving my directory I have had no “regular magazine” nor have I received any offers of work.

Procraft International, Telford, Shropshire

“Their claim was that if I sent £25 they would furnish me with materials to make things like computer files, pop-up greetings cards, and a list of about 10 other items for which I would be paid handsomely once they were returned to them (and then be reimbursed my £25).

I sent for the materials for the computer file and was sent one for trial, which is fair enough. But the “materials” were so shabby, it was impossible to create anything decent . The so-called vinyl outer material was nothing more than a thin crepe type of quality and the lining wouldn’t have made even a decent duster! The “support” for creating the shape of the box was to be supplied by myself from an empty packet of cornflakes! This magnificent article when finished, I was assured, was to retail at £18 and I would be receiving a third of this for each one produced.

“This is only the trial package”, I convinced myself, “the tester to see if I’m up to scratch for them – coz they know full well that you must be darned good if you can make something out of this!!”.

I was wrong. I returned a right shambles (in my opinion) to them with a note saying that this was the best I could offer and that there would be much improvement when they sent me the real thing. That was the real thing. So not only did I not get paid for that, my deposit wasn’t forthcoming either. The letter went on to say “however if you wish to have another attempt then please contact us and we will despatch more materials. No way was I going to struggle with that rubbish again, so in order to attempt to retrieve my £25 I asked for the “pop-up cards”. The quality was undescribable without swearing.”

‘Packers R Us’. Staffordshire House, Clat Street, Penkridge, Staffs. Help line No 01785 716958.

“This is for making envelopes at £15.00 per 100 and/or packing safety pins at £5.00 per card. Easy, simple work which would suit me fine. The cost for both was discounted to £40.00 fully refundable. I decided to go ahead with this one as I spoke to a very nice man called Joe on the help line ( I could actually get through).


They sent the sample stuff which I completed to the best of my ability. Some of the things were impossible to do without specialist equipment – How do you make a 10mm hole? Answer draw round a drawing pin and cut it out Impossible to do neatly. Paper to make envelopes was normal A4 and the template sub standard. They just tore the product apart.

And according to directory inquiries the phone no and company don’t match????”

Aston Marketing (UK) This company have been around for several years and produce a professional looking booklet describing the work available from them. However, when you receive a kit from them you will find it completely unsuitable for its purpose and of a very poor quality. If you query this, you will be told to use your own materials. Don’t bother, as when you return the goods you will be told they don’t meet the required standards, but won’t be able to tell you why.

Riverside Marketing, Office 21, 1st Floor, Gower Street Trading Estate, Telford

“I sent £4.95 for a ‘Homeworkers Directory’ which they promised to refund if I didn’t get a job offer.

There wasn’t a lot in this so-called directory but I spotted what would be a great job for me – working for their ‘Data Control division’ using my computer to input names and addresses onto floppy disc. It cost £9.95 (refundable on completion of 5000 names and addresses) for a floppy disc and a trial list of names. But after sending the disc back I got a letter saying ‘due to lack of contracts on our behalf we are unable to send any more work to you at present but your name and address will be kept on file’ (yeh, sure!) I also sent S.A.E. and 6 stamps for a booklet ‘Essential advice and Information for Homeworkers’ but surprisingly got no reply.”

Robert Cooper, 11 Bouverie Square, Folkestone, Kent CT20 1BD. Mr Cooper operates many scams of the types listed above and also uses the names Advanced promotions and Freetime Promotions. Be very wary of anything you receive from this address.

Aspar Trading Co.Ltd., P.O.Box 52236, 4062 Limassol, Cyprus

You reply to an advertisement which states something along the lines of:

We are currently hiring serious homeworkers. Positions: home typist, clerk, secretary, supervisor. Earn $3500 – $5000 per month! Experience is not necessary. Part time/full time. Anywhere in the world! Apply now!

They return with a well written letter offering the possibility of several options in the way of typing work – the sting in the tail being they want a deposit up front of $100! They say “We are only interested in SERIOUS homeworkers to work for us. For that reason we must ask for a one-time deposit of US$100. This is NO FEE. It is a DEPOSIT that will be refunded to you when you have earned your first US$100. This is necessary to protect both you and us from unserious (sic) job seekers.

If you’re desperate enough to send your $100, you’ll then find you simply send out more e-mails along the lines of the one above and supposedly earn for each reply you receive, once you receive 500. Unfortunately, not only are you then actively encouraging others into the scam in a desperate bid to get back your money, but the company then come out with a selection of excuses as to why they won’t pay before ignoring you altogether. With only an e-mail address and a Cypriot P.O. Box address there’s not a lot more you can do.

M.A.N. Products, 19a Chapel Ash, West Midlands, WV3 0TZ. This company claim to offer work packing studs, or making handmade clockface, Achievement Awards and envelopes. The following is the experience of one potential homeworker:

“They sent me the envelope making kit.” (£4.90 for 50)” Even though I had asked for something else. When I returned the kit they returned it to me. I asked for my money back and they said they would have to keep £10 for administration fees. Still haven’t seen any of my £30 (I think it was that much).The envelopes they ask you to make aren’t normal envelopes, they are like bags and it would take at least 2 days to make 50 with all the cutting and folding and scoring you have to do!!!”

“I recently sent money to a company which promised work from home.They sent out a letter telling me to advertise in shops and I would receive £1.20 for every response…it is obviously a racket as the advert was just trying to get people like me. They ask from anything from £10 upwards.They are T.F.Race Associates,Suite 14, 59 Crawford Street,London,W1H 1HS.”

I am sure you will have seen advertisements for Winstar Direct. They have been placing prominent ads in magazines and newspapers for years making unrealistic claims. A judgement by the Office of Fair Trading (click here to see the full judgement) still hasn’t stopped them. If you have been caught out contact your local trading Standards Office as they are currently sending out questionnaires to establish the level of activity, and to try once and for all to curtail the business.

“How to Make £25 from each “Sold” Sign that you see”. You may well have seen this advert, offered by many different companies. Every wondered whether it really works? The following is a quote from somebody who sent off for this one.

“Firstly you have to wait for the houses “for sale” to actually be SOLD. Secondly, the specially-prepared letter you send to them is a letter welcoming the new occupants to the area and introducing them to some of the shops & services in the area. Before doing this, however, you have to contact lots of shops and services and persuade them that, in return for advertising their services for free to new homeowners in the area, they should give you a percentage of the sales arising from your letter. Although the idea may be a good one, I feel that the advertising of this scheme is extremely misleading.”

What to do if you’re been caught out

There are several things you can do. I would suggest that you get hold of a free booklet from the National Group on Homeworking called “A Practical Guide to Dealing with Misleading Adverts and Bogus Homeworking Schemes”. You can download your copy at

Depending on where you saw the advertisement, you should ask the shopkeeper, or write to the editor asking them to remove the advertisement from future use.

Write to the company asking for your money back, threatening them with court action, if necessary. (Standard wording available from NGH).

Report them to their local trading standards department and the office of Fair Trading. (See below for website details)
Useful Publications and Contact Points

“Starting Your Internet Business Right” is a FREE twenty-section EBook answering the most frequently asked questions of people looking to operate a business online .

There is a chapter in the EBook that talks about and identifies Internet Business scams and schemes that cheat new Net business operators out of millions of dollars every year. This section explains how the scams work, and what to watch for to avoid them.

How to Avoid Scams!

You can also check out the following sites which provide details of companies to be wary of:

The Office of Fair Trading has just launched its own website with guidelines to warn you about the latest scams

Trading Standards have their own website at which contains a wide range of current and reference information which should be equally invaluable if you are a consumer with a query or complaint, or if you are a business looking for advice on your legal obligations in this field, including legislation, faq, consumer issues, careers advice and much more.

Areas you might want to visit are the Message-board which is a moderated discussion group where individuals can post their own problems or advice, and the newsletter which is sent out by email on a regular basis with current issue updates, site updates, details of current scams etc.

Consumers Direct is another government funded site offering advice on consumer issues and includes factsheets on such subjects as

* How to protect yourself against scams
* How to recognise and avoid scams
* Useful contacts against scams

The Advertising Standards Authority print details of all decisions made regarding complaints they receive. So if you’ve seen an ad or received a letter from a company, check here to see if they’ve been investigated.

Advice guide from Citizens Advice Bureau gives basic advice and information on your rights. It gives you a broad outline of where you stand and what you can do.

The DTI has set up a site where you can check out typical scams and also register your suspicions/experiences (anonymously if you wish). Full details at
Is it a Scam?

UK Business Opportunity Review is an excellent site where members submit in-depth reviews of business opportunities they’ve actually tried so you to longer need to rely on guesswork as to which businesses are worth a further look. New reviews are added to the site every week and members make contributions to the members forum daily so there are already hundreds of reviews to read. Not only do you find out which businesses to avoid you can also read about the ones that are generating a significant income for members. You even get e-mail alerts about the latest scams.

The site is more than just a collection of reviews. You also get free legal advice from a UK solicitor, useful articles on starting out in business, the chance to buy and sell second hand business opportunities, and if you’re interested in horse racing, tipsters results data – check out actual tips received from members. When you join you also get £700 worth of bonuses including a free domain name and web hosting, website creation software and a huge selection of e-books. Submit a review yourself and you’ll get a free one month subscription. Visit for details. has an extensive collection of links relating to MLM opportunities, including a comprehensive list of sites warning of MLM scams.

Internet ScamBuster’s Top Scams

Top scams online and offline from, including the Nigerian e-mail scam (now updated to include similar requests from Taliban leaders and other war affected countries, phishing scams and work at home scams.


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