KNOXVILLE, Tenn. (WATE) — The idea of staying home and working in your pajamas might sound really appealing, people looking for work-from-home opportunities should use caution.

Scammers prey on your hopes of earning money from home.

Many job websites are not policed carefully and as a result, bogus work-at-home schemes let scammers escape prosecution.

Here’s some initial things to remember:

  • Be skeptical of offers that promise big money for little effort.
  • If you are asked to put up money to get a job, it’s likely a scam.
  • If you are asked to buy a starter kit or a fake certification, it’s a scam.

The Mystery Shopper Scheme

The “Mystery Shopper” scheme is one that never goes away. There are legitimate mystery shopper businesses, where the shopper makes purchases and reports how well employees performed. The phony ones are pretty easy to detect, we’ll show you.

Here is how it works:

  • You’re sent a hefty check and asked to deposit it into your bank account.
  • Then you’re instructed to withdraw funds and go shopping immediately.
  • And check out the services of wire transfer companies, and, that’s the key.
  • You keep a small amount for your ‘work,’ but then, as instructed, you wire the rest to your ’employer,’ the scammer.
  • Problem is, the check is bogus which can take weeks to discover.
  • When it finally bounces, you’ve lost the money you sent to the scammer.

Data entry jobs

Data entry jobs require employees to enter information into company databases. It’s possible to legitimately land such a job with little or no experience, but don’t expect high pay.

What else to know:

  • The bogus ones offer big money, but often they aren’t jobs at all.
  • Instead, a scammer wants you to pay an application fee, or buy special software, for $25 to $250, according to the Better Business Bureau.

Electronic Medical Claims processing

Another scam seeks workers to process medical claims electronically. Here’s how it works:

  • A sales rep explains that, if you’re willing to invest some money, you’ll be provided with all you need to start a profitable medical billing business.
  • You may be promised a list of potential clients and technical support.
  • But the Federal Trade Commission says disappointment sets in when you realize that the lists you receive are out of date or the medical offices don’t need billing services.
  • Know this — medical billing is a highly competitive business filled with established companies.