The 10 Worst Work-At-Home Scams For Moms

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Is there something about being a mother that brands the word “sucker” across your forehead? In my limited experience, I think so. Almost everywhere you turn, new mothers are targeted for work-at-home opportunities.

Doesn’t it sound like a DREAM? You get to work from the comfort of your own home and earn an income while still being a full-time mother to your children. You can become an independent entrepreneur and business owner to support yourself financially so that you never have to worry about the economy again!

I have had many friends approach me about these work-at-home opportunities since I work at home myself. I almost don’t have a heart to tell them that these scams are the biggest pile of BULLSHIT—because if something is too good to be true, it most certainly is.

It should go without saying that I am personally offended by these terrible scams. Working at home is much, much harder than people want you to believe. I’ve busted my ass to build my career, and I work full-time with two kids and a husband under one roof. If it was as easy as signing up through a website, everyone would be doing it. But I digress.

It is possible to work at home and make an income as a mom, but be very, very careful of the opportunities you consider. If you go into a work-at-home business venture with both eyes open, you’ll quickly see that most perfect “opportunities” aren’t all sunshine and roses.

In my personal experience, you’re better off avoiding these work-at-home mom scams like the plague:

1. Any website that promises you will make $XXX per day.

2. Mom-friendly multi-level marketing.

3. Heavily advertised data entry jobs, usually tied to online sales.

4. Any opportunity that requires an investment to start your own business.

5. General claims processing with startup costs in training, equipment, and software.

6. Medical billing schemes that don’t require professional training.

7. “Super fun” mystery shopper positions that will cost you in training and certification fees.

8. Third-party affiliate marketing businesses, very unlikely to generate income.

9. Envelope stuffing—the oldest fraud trick in the book with a startup “investment.”

10. Any letter from Nigeria (COME ON).

(Image: runzelkorn/shutterstock)

You can reach this post's author, Bethany Ramos, on twitter.
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    • mediocrity511

      Top timing! I spent today looking up freelancing opportunities online for when my contract ends! Found so many dodgy scams.

      • Bethany Ramos

        Good luck! I was using Elance for 5-6 years and really liked it. :)

    • Butt Trophy Recipient

      Speaking of which, where are our Spambots lately? I miss them.

      • LiteBrite

        I was thinking the same thing. I’m waiting for one of them to post in this article. Oh the irony….

      • Valerie

        Want me to make a new profile and by a Spambot?

      • Butt Trophy Recipient

        OOOH, you do roleplaying too?

      • Valerie

        Yup. You get Spambot or Kelly Kapowski. Take your pick.

      • Butt Trophy Recipient

        Hm… shit! Can’t decide.

      • Valerie

        Give it some time. Think it over.

    • https://twitter.com/FaintlyXMacabre Theresa Edwards

      It’s so gross and predatory. Esp. if you’re hurting financially and you think THIS IS IT! Selling crappy candles is my ticket out of money woes.

    • CMP414

      I love those “you can make 7,000 a week working from home” if that was true no-one would ever go to work!

    • effervescent pheasant

      I work at home doing Data entry for a company I used to work for before I went on bed rest. It’s the only real thing out there. Some legit companies will allow at home data entry and wire in from home. It’s amazing but also gets crazy being inside your own home day in and day out. You never leave work!
      I can not stand MOM marketing. Every mom I know sells pampered chef, origami owl, silpada, premier, party lite, advocare, sentsy.. GAWD make it stop… there’s no market when everyone you know sells it. Not to mention everyone who knows you cringes when they see you coming because they know you are about to hit them up to host a party… My facebook feed is full of home parties. Time for new friends. True leeches of society. Be my friend! Support my family!

    • effervescent pheasant

      I work at home doing Data entry for a company I used to work for before I went on bed rest. It’s the only real thing out there. Some legit companies will allow at home data entry and wire in from home. It’s amazing but also gets crazy being inside your own home day in and day out. You never leave work!
      I can not stand MOM marketing. Every mom I know sells pampered chef, origami owl, silpada, premier, party lite, advocare, sentsy.. GAWD make it stop… there’s no market when everyone you know sells it. Not to mention everyone who knows you cringes when they see you coming because they know you are about to hit them up to host a party… My facebook feed is full of home parties. Time for new friends. True leeches of society. Be my friend! Support my family!

      • Bethany Ramos

        AGREE 100%.

      • Scarlet

        Origami owl is the worst, that stuff is absolute junk and incredibly expensive on top of that. My sister in law just had one of these that I had to attend even though I tried to get out of it but I REFUSED to buy one. It’s not the kind of jewelry Ilike anyway and its cheap looking garbage! Although I find all of them annoying that one is the worst!

      • Pzonks

        What I find amazing about Origami Owl is that it was started by a TEENAGER. She was 14 or something and is now a multi gazillionre at 16/17.

    • KaeTay

      The best at home work I’ve ever witnessed was military spouses who are trained to cut hair. We had two in military housing but only 1 advertised so most wives would go to her for hair cuts and dyes and it would cost about half of what you would have to pay

      • Rachel Sea

        That’s not legal in a lot of places.

      • Lackadaisical

        Really? Is it because they aren’t supposed to use a home on a military base as a place of business or is there some other reason out of curiosity? Or is it illegal in some places for non-military wives too?

      • Pzonks

        I would think it’s not legal because you don’t have a business license, insurance, etc. Not that it’s likely to happen but there could be cuts, chemical burns, infections, etc.

      • Lackadaisical

        Is it not possible to get those for a home/mobile hairdresser in the US then? I know that friends who do it on a casual basis on top of other paid work tend not to be official but at least on friend here does it with all the proper registration, tax, insurance etc. I probably sound daft but I am not in America so different rules and regulations apply

      • Pzonks

        I’m sure you CAN but I’d venture that most people don’t because it would likely be a lot of hassle, paperwork, and money. They’re probably just doing it for cash on the side which is fine…until it isn’t.

      • Rachel Sea

        It has to do with state regulations on sanitation. Often a site has to be certified as a salon (or barbershop, or whatever technical term) before it can be used as one.

      • Lackadaisical

        Oh right, that makes sense. I hadn’t thought of that because we don’t have the same regulations on that one here.

      • FormerlyKnownAsWendy

        And not always paying taxes or reporting income.

      • Lackadaisical

        I have a lot of friends who are mobile hair dressers and they tend to do very well out of it. A lot of them used to work in salons but stopped to have kids and then when the kids were older they decided they would rather go and cut hair in customers’ houses than work in a salon again. One friend is constantly booked up and usually is fully booked. However, that doesn’t mean they are always raking it in. Where I live people aren’t prepared to pay that much for a mobile hair dresser and when it comes to things that take ages like dyes and perms in a salon the hair dresser could fit in another hair cut while waiting for it to set but a mobile hairdresser is unlikely to be able to yet still has to charge a far lower price than a salon to get the custom. With travel and wait time while they are very busy sometimes they are getting a lot less than minimum wage per hour, particularly when hair dye and the like are factored in.

    • Puckersbabe

      What about that crazy wrap thing? OMG I have an acquaintance from my daughters school who is constantly posting up before and after results, then tries to hire people to work with/for hire. I just can’t stand looking at those before/after pics before I’ve eaten breakfast!

      • Jennifer Freeman

        Also the Beach Body Coach thing, which is really someone who wants you to buy some sort of shakes for weight loss.

      • effervescent pheasant

        I just was hit up for that! I had never heard of it. I thought it was free classes or something the way it was worded. It turned out to be shakeology? and buying into PX90 something or other? I can’t remember the name. I was really more interested in getting a group together to walk or do yoga at a rec center or something…

    • Lindsay

      Every SAHM I know is now selling that Rodan & Fields crap that costs a pile of money. EVERY. SINGLE. ONE. They’re all high-fiving each other when they join the “team” and I’m wondering…who are they selling it to? I “hide” every single person I see who signs up with it. They flood the FB feeds with that crap.

      • Lackadaisical

        So glad that whatever that is hasn’t made it across the pond (or that my friends and I aren’t trendy enough to be keeping up with the trendiest marketing scams). I do have a huge amount of friends who do Avon (often advertising on FB as well as the door to door stuff) but that’s about it. We also get people calling in various companies to host a product themed party with their friends thinking that they will get loads of free loot but often they misjudge the product and their friends and end up with little or nothing out of it and feel guilted into buying something themselves. Some of the cook ware ones are far to expensive and the make up ones and Ann Summers ones have often been done too often so no one buys anything.

      • Lian

        I went to an Ann Summers one years ago accidentally (I was in Ireland for a semester, and was invited to my roommate’s friend’s birthday party, which turned out to be an Ann Summers party). I had no idea what it was, and had no desire to buy anything (I already had a vibrator that I loved with all my heart!). I still remember being yelled at by the roommate that we needed to buy things, that this woman needed to make a living, etc. So uncomfortable.

      • Lackadaisical

        Yes, the guilt of it all. Also they love the hard sell on trying to get guests to book their own party while there.

        I also hate with a passion the giggly sex related but not in the slightest bit sexy games they try to make you do even though you don’t know half the room or the lady setting the games.

      • falcongirl

        Everybody I know is selling It Works. Two months ago, I had never heard of it, and now all of a sudden every other mom I know is suggesting that we should all “join my team”. To me, that’s the hallmark of the scam: none of them seem all that interested in building customers who buy the product. Instead, they want “team members” who will sell the product. But if that’s where the real money is, then you are in a pyramid scheme, and eventually you’re going to be left holding the bag. And it bums me out because these women are my friends and I like them, but I just can’t with this nonsense anymore.

      • texassa

        A coworker came into my office one day pretending to share some chit-chat and quickly transitioned into showing me before and after wrap pics and talking to me about how they work. I was mortified that anyone would behave this way at their real place of business and insult their colleagues in this way. I wanted to say, “so let me get this straight — you’re telling me that a) you think I’m stupid, b) you think I’m fat, and c) you have no problem trying to manipulate me into giving you cash.”

      • texassa

        They sell it to themselves. And other suckers who see their “yay!!” Facebook posts. It’s pathetic.

    • SA

      I answered one of those work-for-yourself ads when I was in college, supposedly it was an interview for an unnamed position, but no…sat through something like a two-hour class where they taught you how to sell knock-off perfume. At the end, they wanted you to purchase a set amount of perfume and then sell it to your friends and a higher price than you paid. Total scam. And has kept me leery of anything “too-good-to-be-true” since! I had to book it out of there when they started trying to collect money!

    • Greta Young

      While I realize there are lots of scammers out there, there are actually a lot of legit mystery shopping companies out there. It’s no way to make a living (the pay per shop is usually between $5-30, plus reimbursement; writing the reviews is quite time consuming) but it’s a fun way to try new restaurants. I’ve done evaluations of grocery stores, a home decor retailer, a beauty school admissions process, two bars, a handful of casual/mid-range restaurants, a few upscale/high-end restaurants, and have a 5-star steakhouse coming up at the end of the month. :-D

      For anyone interested, there’s a great summary on volition’s website listing all the legit mystery shop companies, where they’re located, and what kinds of clients they serve.

    • Ashley Austrew

      I feel like every mom I know is involved in some sort of MLM scheme, and it makes me so sad. I try to get out of the constant parties and events by saying I don’t have a ton of disposable income (which is true!), but then they’re like, “Oh, well then you should start selling Jimmy Jammy Flappy Scrappy Mary Martha nail/make-up/jewlery/candles/cleaner! I’ll get you started!! You’ll have so much fun and make extra money! Only $200 for your start up kit!” And I’m like, Dude. I’m antisocial as fuck and selling things makes me want to die. Can’t we just be friends without you turning me into a customer/potential business partner?

      • http://salemthegoddess.com/ salemthegoddess

        a good rule is ‘your friends are not your paycheck.’ say this to people often and you’ll find you’re not invited to sales meetings disguised as parties ;)

      • Andrea

        That’s the saddest part of all the MLM; it is expected that you turn your friends into customers. Of course some of your friends will order some of the crap from you just to help you and get your started, but after that…what?? That’s the part no one tells you.There is NO customer base.

      • Linzon

        Not just customers but employees!

      • Ashley Austrew

        Yes! And they are SO defensive about it. If you say anything realistic at all, you’re not supporting their business ambitions and you’re a killer of dreams.

      • Andrea

        I know…but they are indoctrinated to react that way. Those MLMs are more like cults.

      • Guets

        I’ve worked in some of these things, as well as real estate, and insurance. The one thing I’ve learned is just what you said. If a company tells you that you need to bust out your contact list in order to “start your business” they are garbage. A legitimate place will have enough business as it is and if you continue to leave your friends/family alone and do well the friends/family usually come to you later to help them out (if they need it). Its like you’ve proven yourself not to be just another hard-selling douche canoe.

      • CMP414

        i sell avon but just as a hobby- i hate the idea of pressuring my friends so i never do demo parties or anything like that. for extra income for my family i work an actual part time job. it makes me crazy when moms pressure others moms to buy stuff so they can support their families.

    • Megan Zander

      I want to do what that Asian girl does where she cooks food and then eats it in front of a webcam and gets paid major cheddar for it.

      • Andrea

        Wait…this is a THING????

      • Valerie

        This can be our thing until we start up the Creepy Mom Van in 15 years.

      • Megan Zander

        We can call it Munching with Moms.

      • Valerie

        Wait until Butt Socks wakes up and sees this.

      • Megan Zander

        Ugh, I forgot to run it through my ” how will Socks see this comment” filter before I hit post.

      • Valerie

        It forces us to think in a whole different way.

      • practicallyperfectineveryway

        I’m looking for a real, full time, big girl job for the first time right now and this sounds like a real career path.

    • Valerie

      I hate home shopping parties like whoa. I have this one “friend” who keeps inviting me and I hate that I feel obligated. SUCKS.

    • Linzon

      Aaaagh I hate the MLM things so much, more and more moms (and it’s always moms) I know are getting sucked in.

      I have one acquaintance who was running an in-home daycare. I know those generally don’t make a lot of money but she seemed to genuinely enjoy what she was doing and always had a full roster of kids.

      Suddenly the daycare is closing and she’s selling ~*~cosmetics~*~ instead! And you can sell them, too! Join her team! It’s actually a little creepy, every single thing she posts on Facebook is about these cosmetics and how she has a great business opportunity for you and it’s like she’s been brainwashed.

      I don’t mind them as much if the sellers are just making post after post on Facebook about their amazing products but when they start trying to recruit me I shut that nonsense down.

      • Pzonks

        Awhile back a friend (I’ll call her Sue) posted on FB about how tired she was of her status being nothing but sales pitches and friends shouldn’t be trying to sell to friends all the time, etc. One of her friends commented that she only posts about her business 3xs a week and she only posts because the products she sells are SUCH high quality that she KNOWS if Sue tried them she’d be HOOKED and ready to become a seller too!
        So basically Sue’s rant about ML FB sales pitches turned into MLM sales pitch.

      • Linzon

        MLMjacking!

    • Frannie

      I made what I thought was a new ‘mom friend’ at the playground. Turns out she just wanted me to join her beach body team and sell me shakeology.

      • Andrea

        When I first had my baby, I was pretty young and none of my friends had kids. I also quit my full time corporate job and moved to the burbs so to say that I was lonely was the understatement of the year. We joined a church. Pretty soon I was getting invited to all these “get togethers” hosted by various church ladies and I was so happy to start making new friends. Yeah, my ass. All of them were some kind of sell party. I was heart broken.

      • Frannie

        People suck. If I did direct sales I’d probably ask strangers to buy from me, but not under the guise of welcoming them to the church! That must have been awful :(

      • Andrea

        Well I did eventually make true friends with some people; but I never forgot that feeling of going from “yay! I can make new friends” to “dammit all to hell they just needed warm bodies/checkbooks for that party”

    • Frannie

      I made what I thought was a new ‘mom friend’ at the playground. Turns out she just wanted me to join her beach body team and sell me shakeology.

    • val97

      It took me 40+ hour work weeks at an office and 3 promotions for me to be offered the “benefit” of working from home a few times a week.

    • http://nessyhart.wordpress.com/ pixie

      My boyfriend’s mom tried to sell tupperware for a little bit because she went to a party and the sales lady did her pitch about how she’s got a ton of free time and makes loads of money and it’s barely any work and blah blah blah. Boyfriend’s mom spent a bunch of money on the “start-up kit”, held one party (which I went to just to be nice; the lady who I guess she “worked for” was pretty much running the show and I wanted to stab my eye out with a fork because of her spiel) and then realized, no, it’s not as easy as it’s made out to be. The appeal of not having to do any work and still get money turned out to not be true.
      I just shook my head when she gave that up, just like she gave up real estate, which also takes a lot of work to be successful.

    • girlindisguise

      I tried the MLM scheme (Arbonne). I couldn’t hack it. I live in a small community with some people who dominated that market. One lady actually did receive her Mercedes Benz but after a ton of work and all her kids are in high school. I do buy Scentsy and Tupperware, but I buy from a friend and aunt who do monthly orders and no parties. I ignore all party requests because I hate that shit.

    • Angela

      To be totally honest I don’t really understand why so many moms even want to work at home to begin with. I mean, yeah I totally get that childcare’s expensive and can be a massive PIA to coordinate, so I sort of get it. But this whole idea that working at home will allow you to spend so much more time with your kids is total crap, or at least it was for me. At my last job part of it was on-site, but there was also a lot of paperwork that I could take home with me. I quickly found though that if I just stayed an extra hour or two at the office that I would often accomplish more than I could in an entire day at home with my kids. Working from home I was constantly resorting to screen time to occupy my kids so I could get something done, but even then it seemed like I’d only have about 2 minutes before they’d start fighting, want a snack, need help on the potty, etc. I felt like I’d spend all day reading the same paragraph over and over again. Sure, doing my paperwork at the office meant a bit more time in daycare for my kids but it also meant that I had tons more time to spend with them because I could actually be there for them instead of plopping them in front of the TV so I could work.

      • wannabevenus

        I telecommute sometimes for one of my jobs. Fortunately, I have no young children at home. Otherwise, I’d get no work done. People don’t always realize that work is work, even if doing it from home. it’s just like being AT work, only without having to get dressed and drive to it. The responsibilities are still there. It’s not at all glam to be essentially locked in my room all day for sometimes 9+ hours or more. No way could I contend w/ having children to mind and keep productivity up. Same thing w/ thinking that a mom can work nights and save on child care. Sure, you can..and be totally exhausted all the time and become one of those moms you hate, irritable and screaming all the time from frustration and fatigue. BTDT…not some of my finest memories of motherhood combined with a career.

    • C.J.

      I find the protein shake ones are the worst. No I don’t want to purchase your overpriced shakes. No drinking your overpriced shakes would not have prevented my stroke nor will it cure me of the deficits caused from the stroke. No they didn’t really give you a free car, don’t sell your quota for a couple months and see what that BMW costs you. I’m about ready to block someone on Facebook because I am tired of reading about this crap.

    • practicallyperfectineveryway

      I studied the arts and a lot of my friends are trying to do these schemes now to make money while they pursue creative endeavors. But then they just end up pitching Stella and Dot until I unfriend them.

    • Carolina

      One of my FB friends is selling some weight loss product. She keeps posting pictures with captions like “my lunch room” (fun looking BBQ outside with kids) and “your lunch room” (depressed looking guy in a break room). I’m tempted to come back with “My Salary” (piles and piles of cash) and “Your Salary” (nothing). It’s terribly obnoxious

    • Maggie J

      When my husband got stationed at a new base, I became horribly depressed so he took me to a coworker’s house to meet his wife and have a casual get together. This bitch ended up talking me into Scentsy (I was so desperate to make a friend I would do just about anything) but I balked when I saw a “starters kit” would be $75. Which doesn’t sound like a lot until I mention that we did meal planning and budgeted down to the last cent. She ended up kicking us out and telling me that she couldn’t believe I had taken advantage of her. However, a week later, we received a very nice note and a gift card for a restaurant from her very, very embarrassed husband. She still has no idea she did anything wrong.

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    • texassa

      The amount of spam I see in my Facebook feed about Rodan and Fields is offensive. These are “friends” who got duped into their MLM scam and are now trying to dupe all of their friends to get themselves in a better situation. It’s shameful and embarrassing.