A SPOOF website set up to reveal how easy it is to be ripped off, attracted more than 3,000 hits in a month from people looking to work from home.
The site was set up by Borough of Poole in a bid to beat fraudsters at their own game and reveal how vigilant people need to be against home working scams aimed at stealing money for work that may never arrive.
The environmental and protection services authentic-looking fake website offered potentially high earnings for vague promises of home working jobs, complete with “success stories”.
Nearly 2,500 people were prepared to click through the site for more details or to sign up, having been told that a fee was payable.
Peter Haikin, regulatory services manager said: “Trading standards officers were concerned that consumers were becoming increasingly targeted with online scams through social media, search engines etc.
“We decided to set up our own fake website at home workingdreams.co.uk – and we made it clear that a £10 fee would have to be paid up front to join the scheme. When people tried to join up they were directed to a page explaining that the website, although typical of the sort of approach used by scammers to attract potential victims, was actually ours and directed them to sources of advice on protecting themselves when looking for work online.”
Cllr Xena Dion, cabinet portfolio holder for a prosperous and sustainable Poole said: “We often think of scam victims as being elderly or vulnerable but this shows how sophisticated some scams are.
“Our website was very professional looking but quick and cheap to set up and any of us could be at risk if we don’t keep constantly alert against fraud.
“Technology is such these days that it’s possible to steal from consumers or businesses with too good to be true opportunities without even being in the same country, leaving the victim out of pocket and likely to be targeted again.”
Trading Standards advice is to be very wary of any home working offer that requires you to pay an upfront fee to apply or obtain a ‘starter kit’.
Never give out banking details to a potential employer during the application phase or on a cv. Mass marketing scams are estimated to cost the UK economy £3.5billion annually.
Contact Action Fraud, actionfraud.police.uk or call 0300 123 2040 for more information.