Virtual Assistant Scam Warning

By January 28, 2008 Uncategorized 21 Comments

You’re surfing the internet looking for a work from home job opportunity. You come across a site that promises you ‘data entry’ work from home in return for fee. Or transcription work, or filling out surveys. You’re asked to pay a fee upfront, in return for getting work sent to you. It all sounds great and isn’t it exciting how you can get work from home now for no effort?

I just want to say one thing: if you’re asked for money in order to be given work automatically, it’s almost 100% likely that it’s a scam. You’ll never see your ‘registration fee’ again. (Note: I’ve heard of a couple of websites where you pay to get access to lists of jobs for a one-time fee. I’m still checking these out, based on feedback from others. When you access the lists of jobs, you then apply by sending your resume and other details. You’re not automatically given work because you have to apply for each job. This is different to PAYING TO BE GIVEN work).

Or if it’s a site offering to pay you for filling out surveys, you’ll probably have to spend hours registering on different survey sites before you even get to fill one out. And even then, how much are you going to be paid for each survey? Probably very little. The time wasted doing that would be better spent setting up your own business and getting your own clients and work.

You’ll note that I’ve written an ebook on how to become a Virtual Assistant. You could wonder whether that’s a scam too, and I’m not surprised you may think that, because there are so many scams on the internet. However, the difference is that I’m not asking you for money so I can give you work. I’m teaching you how to set up your own Virtual Assistant business so that you can get the work yourself, by finding your own clients, rather than relying on some scam company to give you work. There’s a difference between being asked for money in order to get work, and paying for a training course or information on how to become a Virtual Assistant and find your own clients.

If anyone has had positive experiences getting work through any of the data entry from home, transcription from home or survey sites, please feel free to leave a comment below. Also, if you’ve been scammed, please leave a comment so that others can benefit from being warned in advance!


  • Linda says:

    thanks so much for sharing this truth. it is really difficult for sincere people to work through all the garbarge out there. it acutally make is very frustrating and you tend to look at all opportunities thru a negative glass. everyone should do their “due dilligence” before taking the plunge in any business venture. i have a referral marketing business, know it is legitimate, but have a hard time promoting it because of all the other get rich quick scams. that is one of the reasons i started looking into being a virtual assistant.

    i’m no novice. i’ve been around the corporate environment for over 20 years and in nonprofit for 10. i’m considered a late baby-boomer and i haven’t quite reached retirement age and not in a position to retire so i’m trying to maximize my options.

    out of all of the other sites offering the virtual assistant business, you seem to be the only one outlining every possible step that must be considered to be succssful.

    thanks for that and i’m going to purchage your 5 key steps to take your “free” offer one step further. notice i didn’t shameless plug my online business anywhere.

    once again, lisa, thank you.

  • Debra says:

    Hi Lisa

    I agree with Linda, it is very difficult to sift out what is legit and what is not. I also have experience in the corporate world, but was medically boarded so cannot work in an office environment. I am trying to set up my own business from home but often feel overwhelmed with all the info out there that make promises but does not deliver. I am also trying to set up a refrerral marketing business and my aim is to build a business that I can carry on with even after retirement (I have a way to go yet). I am grateful for the info you send me and I am now in a position to concentrate more fully on developing my business. Thank you, regards Debra

  • Tina says:

    I am embarrassed to admit that I fell for the survey scheme. I thought I had done the necessary research to find a legitimate business to work with before diving in. What a mistake! They recommended that you have a separate email account for the surveys, but I had to give my primary email address to be registered. They promised that my information would not be given out or sold. Shortly thereafter, I started receiving TONS of spam email, much of it with very ugly contents. Also, you had to register in a lot of places to be “considered” for taking surveys and a lot of them only offered rebates or credits rather than cash for your time.

    My advice is to heed Lisa’s input in regards to finding a home-based business opportunity that has a proven track record and contact people directly about their experience before paying to be burned. Being a VA is a great way to market your skills in an up and coming multi-billion dollar industry.

    I hope my experience has helped others avoid the Internet scheme trap. Thanks, Lisa, for allowing me the opportunity to vent!

    Warm regards ~ Tina

  • Sheryl Mills says:

    I agree strongly about the scams out there. The data entry scam just didn’t sound right to me from the beginning. There are also some “freelance” scams out there also. I have done some legit survey work and I choose which ones I want to do, however you end up spending money you don’t need to be spending in doing some of the surveys. Not really worth it in the long run. It follows the old saying “If it sounds to good to be true, then maybe it is.”

  • Juice says:

    Please be aware of any posting in your local newspaper for a virtual on-line financial assistant. It is a scam to bilk you out of your hard-earned money.

    The supposed “employer” places an ad in your local newspaper. The one in our’s was Start Work Now. After contacting this unGodly person, he asked for references and my resume. Also had to fill an agreement form.

    He supposedly ran an electronics website called EC Plaza, which is probably fake, also. He tells you he is busy traveling all the time and needs someone to hold on to his leads and to also handle the financial end of purchases.

    For example, he says you will be receiving money orders for goods purchased and that you have to cash them at your bank, then forward via wire transfer, Western Union, to the seller, in this case, some bloke in Ontario.

    I actually got warnings from my friends, with suggested readings on these scams on the internet. But somehow, I felt I had to go through the steps to see if it was a scam on my own. Also, fyi, my pay was 8% of all incoming money orders.

    After receiving my “Welcome Aboard” email, I was told a transaction would be coming shortly via UPS. Sure nuff, the next morning, two checks were sent to me, money orders from CVS Pharmacy, each for $950.20. FYI, only the amounts were filled out. I had to fill in my name as the redeemer before I went to the bank. My pay was 8% of each check.

    I proceeded to my bank and was rather curious when they asked me which account I wanted to cash it against. I asked why would they want that info if money orders are the same as cash. They told me that money orders can have stop payments placed on them. Well, on my way to the Western Union, I went home instead and read more on this subject on the “net”. I even ran his email on “Google” and noted that several of his ad ads were running countrywide and most recently in Denver. Also, the “purchaser” name was blank and I had to put my name there also. (Therefore, my name would be the only one linked to this fraudulent transaction)

    I returned to the bank and explained my story to an account rep at the bank. She smiled and immediately told me this was a scam. She said it could take weeks before it cleared the bank and that’s when they would find out that in fact, the money order was fraudulent in itself. I would actually be wire transferring my own money to the supposed seller of the goods, in this case 10 Nintendo Wii’s. And I thought, why is this person trusting me with this cash. Well, because it was my own!!!

    We reversed the transaction and their security department was keeping the money orders for investigation.

    BEWARE of these scums of the earth. They prey on poor innocent people and scam out of the hard- earned money.

  • Lisa Taliga says:

    Thanks everyone for your comments.

    @ Linda: It’s a pity that people get scammed when they want to work at home because there’s a tendency to assume all other opportunities are scams as well, and then people give up. Everyone should look at each different work at home opportunity in its own right and apply common sense to each one.

    @ Tina: Sorry to hear about the survey scheme and thanks for warning others about it here. I hope you’ll put it down to experience, and not let it discourage you from trying other ways to work at home, with caution, of course!

    @ Juice: Thanks for posting the details of this particular scam. STEER CLEAR OF ANY ‘CLIENT’ ASKING YOU TO PROCESS MONEY FOR THEM LIKE THIS. It’s almost always a scam. People must still be falling for this otherwise they wouldn’t keep investing money and time to advertise these ‘opportunities’.

    A SIMILAR SCAM: Recently, I put up a vehicle for sale using an online car buying and selling website. I was subsequently approached by email by someone supposedly based in London, wanting to buy the vehicle without even seeing it (alarm bells went off there and then).

    He spun some elaborate yarn about being a vehicle broker, acting on behalf of his client based in South Africa who wanted to buy the vehicle for his son’s graduation. Nice story, sounded too good to be true. I wonder how long he spent making that one up.

    The email address was some fishy Yahoo account. Nice and anonymous. Anyway, the proposal was that he would send me a money order or cheque for $5000 more than my asking price, because that was the minimum that ‘his client’ could issue a cheque for. Yeah, right.

    And then, naturally, I was to send him back the $5000 to seal the deal before happily sailing off into the sunset, all rosy-cheeked and elated.

    Obviously, this is not a work at home scam, but the essence is the same. The story is ALWAYS too good to be true, and it ALWAYS involves transferring money in some way, shape or form.

    Finally, I want to remind everyone that THERE ARE LEGITIMATE CLIENTS OUT THERE AND LEGITIMATE WAYS OF WORKING AT HOME. Not everyone is out to scam you, BUT YOU MUST EXERCISE DUE DILIGENCE. Check out the company/person in Google. Type in their name, followed by the word ‘scam’. Do they have a website? Have a poke around. Are phone numbers listed? Are these phone numbers real? Can you contact and speak to someone at the company? Do a bit of basic checking, and make sure these scam artists don’t take you for a ride.

    Further comments and experiences are welcomed!

  • Delita says:

    Well, let me warm you all against another scammer. I received an email from a guy by the name of Ted Grant who told me that he had a client that needed my services. I prepared a proposal, he agreed to it on behalf of his “client”. He then sent me an email telling me that his client will pay me $60 per hour, but he gets 50% of this for brokerage fees. I then told him, why is she willing to pay more than my proposal stated. Of course, no answer. I then asked him for his website in which he never answered the question. After a day or so he contacted me again and asked how did he know that he would receive his half of the money because his “client” had a check ready for $7500, that he was going to send me. Again, unusual because why would someone pay for services that have not been rendered yet? At this time I told him that this was a scam and that I had no intentions on taking part in it. He nver answered, he closed out the yahoo account. I am telling you because scammers come in all forms and don’t be eager to get involved in something that doesn’t seem right. His email address, in case he resurfaces has something like tmsu… Just remember the name…Ted Grant. Oh he states that he works for Xpress Solutions, which is not true, because I went to their wwebsite and he is not listed.

  • Lisa Taliga says:

    Hi Delita – a very common theme is that the email address is a throwaway, anonymous one such as Yahoo, Gmail, Hotmail or something like that. If a client approaches me using such an email address, I immediately make a note to check them out further.

    Another theme is the ‘third party’ involvement. By this I mean, they pretend to be acting on behalf of ‘their client’. Also, they like to appeal to people’s greed and desperation by offering more than the agreed amount. ‘Ted Grant’ will probably resurface under another imaginative name, so everyone, please be on the look out.

  • Richard John says:

    Hi All I myself almost got arrested for issuing a forges money order some years ago with one of thise African scams. I knew from the start it was a scam but I kept playing along.
    At evey turn this guy kept asking for “tie over money” which ifcourse I never gave him. finally he sent me a money order which I was to deposit and send back a certain amount. With all insistence he wanted an advance on the amount. I told him he had to wait, meanwhile I had my bankers check it out. Sure enough it was a fake. I spent nearly 20 minuted explaining myself to members of the bank I never met before. On top of his, this guy had the gaul to threaten to come to my country to “deal” with me. What else could I do I sent him an invitation letter, promising to show him around.

    Never did hear from him again.

  • Lisa Taliga says:

    Hi Richard – Love the invitation letter to show him around!

    The sad thing is, I’m sure I’ve heard of innocent people getting into trouble with authorities because of money laundering, through no fault of their own. And the fact that these scams are continuing, means that people are still getting taken in by it. Dreadful.

  • Dale says:

    Hello Richard-Your experience was extremely similar to mine when I dealt with a company that called itself Ashley Furnitures. Since I had bought several pices of furniture from Ashley Furniture in Florida, I responded to their add for a position in their accounts receivable dept. They advertised themselves as “a well established manufacturing firm that delivers high quality precision furniture products to some of the largest and best known companies “. They claimed to “serve the entire United States and a growing export market” and that they supplied “superior product including Sofas, Loveseats, Bedding Ensenbles, Chairs & Ottomans”. This was sounding exactly like the company that I had bought furniture from in the past.

    Well, it was not. I was told that most of their clients prefer to pay through certifiedchecks or money orders. I was beginning to get suspicious. Why would their customers not just send the checks to their central accounting dept.? My further instructions were just like yours. Deposit the checks in my bank and I would receive 10% of each check deposited.

    I next tried to contact the people at Ashley the furniture store I frequented. I received no response.

    I contacted Ashley and said I needed more info on their company.
    They were very reluctant to give me any info. Within a week I received a check in the amount of $5,800.00. It was postmarked from a PO Box in Taft, Ca. The check looked real enough to me. I took it to a bank representative and they pointed out all the things that could go wrong if I cashed this check. The exact same problems that you experienced! I also checked on the bank that the check was written on. It also had many negative reports on it.

    The moral of this story is, DO NOT ACCEPT work as a middle person for others when it concerns cashing checks or money orders! I have since been receiving e-mails form all over the world asking for me to do this. BEWARE!

  • Lee says:

    Please please be careful of the “Financial Assistant” scams – or product turnovers – I work with a property management firm and we are constantly having Tenants contact us about their MAIL being stolen – mostly these guys are looking for checks – they have what they call an “acid wash” which actually lifts the ink from the check (the name originally the check was made payable to) and when it dries it looks like a blank check! When you try to deposit or cash the check/money order – it goes through but only for a little while and then sure enough the money order/check will be stopped and you’ve already wired your money to someone else yet YOUR NAME is on the check so YOU are left holding the bag so to speak!

    This is a GREAT site Lisa, and you should be proud that you are helping people HELP themselves instead of trying to sell them stuff they can figure out on their own. Kudos to you and like some of the posters on this board – “if its too good to be true – IT IS!” especially ONLINE……..good luck to all and always be alert!

  • shy says:

    Try not to be scammed by” MAKE EM PAY” it has been almost 1 year since I seen any money from surveys that supposelly pays the only one that pay is Vocalpoint keep this one but Dont give money to Survey scout either both no pay You Have to subscribe to hundreds before you get selected. BE careful with your money only after you ee some money than continue with VOCALPOINT. Peace out

  • Tia Peterson says:

    Agree with Lee, Lisa. I was drawn to your site awhile back because you, like me, try to help people grow their VA business. I really appreciate everything and consider you a “virtual mentor!”


    All American Admin

  • Peepster says:

    I think this sounds great. I have been looking for a way to work from home, be my own boss and make lots of money doing it. I think my organizational skills will be of such value as va. I have been working in the financial sector since graduating in 02 and have always wanted to work for myself. This is a very exciting day for me, I am waiting to receive my free ebook and I’m going to get one of the packages. Thanks to the Universe for bringing this opportunity into my vision!!!!

    Be Happy Always

  • I have spent the afternoon reading your blogs with great interest. I shall bear in mind all of the advice given by your bloggers.
    I already have your ebook Lisa and it has been tremendously helpful in setting up my Virtual Administration company.
    Clients would be a real bonus, but patience is a virtue they tell me.
    Thank you for all of the advice you are giving.

  • Jerri says:

    I have over 10 years experience as a professional administrative assistant to 3rd level managers up to Vice Presidents. I have worked in corporate america and smaller scale businesses. I am considering utilizing my skills and knowledge in the virtual assistant area in is wondering how do I get started and aquire clients and keep them?

  • hello
    I am a virtual assistant in US, I want to work from home for companies. How can I find it?

  • Marie Ferguson says:

    I feel like I have been scammed outsourcing to the Philippines. They were unprofessional, always late, never online because of internet brown outs, how can you run a business like that? I feel like naming their names in order to prevent others from experiencing the same problems.

  • Sanagit says:

    I hate my job and have been looking at work at home opportunities and have not found one yet.
    I worked for the government for ten years and once i left i could not get a job even though i have experience.
    I would like to work for myself and have more time with my family and not work shift work.
    Where do i start and can i still work and start my virtual business.


  • Beth says:

    Have you heard of a company finding a VA on Odesk, hiring them directly as an employee (bypassing the Odesk platform) and mailing them a check to purchase specific accounting software from their own vendor which will be used for the job? It just seems a little odd, I mean why not just send the software to begin with. I researched them and all else looks legit, though they are not in my country.

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