Over the past few days, I have learned about a very clever work at home scam that I need to warn you about. These people are using the company names Mexaaa, Happy LLC, Pilot, Inc., American Pilot, and I’ve also seen some stuff online where they’ve set up other websites called Ask Sunday LLC and also Infinity. The Ask Sunday one is NOT to be confused with the real Ask Sunday that actually does employ virtual assistants, located here. The scam company just elected to use their name at one point, but Ask Sunday is also a real company.
How the Scam Works
It appears that most people who have fallen for this scam have been contacted via email with an offer for a work at home job. In the email, you’ll be offered a seemingly easy virtual assistant job with instructions to visit their website for more information. The website provides a ton of details on this job that will seem very appealing — good pay and easy work, plus all kinds of benefits like 401K and every kind of insurance you can think of. The pay amounts vary from the two websites I’ve seen, but both offer $2750 plus per month guaranteed salary along with regular raises and possible client bonuses. The job listing also states that you’ll be on a one month probation period where you’ll be paid a flat $2500 and if you make it through that probation period, you’ll be offered a year contract.
If you read the FAQ (and so far both of the websites I’ve been to have a FAQ set up), you will see this line:
Every spending during your approbation period (list of items, travelling expenses, shipping, additional expenses, total cost etc) must be confirmed with our customer first. Once confirmed, the required amount is transferred to your credit card or bank account so you can take care of everything.
This is where alarm bells should sound, and not just because of the grammatical errors. They’ve hidden these details away in their FAQ so that it’s not easy to spot. The company goes on to promise you your own corporate credit card after your “trial” period, but until that trial period is up, they want you to use your own financial accounts for their so-called “customer’s” needs, using the fraudulent funds they send you. After they’ve sent you funds to deposit in your own financial accounts, they will then ask you to very quickly transfer it somewhere else — before the funds have a chance to clear and your bank realizes everything was fraudulent. You’re undoubtedly sending the funds back to these scammers and they will disappear after that and you’ll be in serious trouble with your bank/credit card company, and still no real work at home job.
What is scary about this one is how real it might seem on the outside to the average person. The “company” appears to be offering a genuine VA service to clients and the job details are very thorough, just like you might find on a real employer website.
Scam companies certainly do have shady ways of getting email addresses, but most likely if you’ve been contacted by them your information was posted online through a job search site. Some people have reported hearing from one of these so-called companies after posting their resumes at CareerBuilder, Monster, and other similar sites.
As mentioned above, the company probably has several websites in place, but ones that I know about are Happy, LLC with the domain name of Maxeea and also Pilot, Inc or American Pilot. My guess is that these websites come and go as they get found out. There are no telling how many of these fake websites are out there, so if you see ANY job posting for virtual assistants that sounds similar — a nice salary for the month during your one-month trial period, or asking you to deposit funds into your own bank account to meet “customer needs,” — you should be on immediate alert. Pretty much anytime you’re dealing with a so-called company offering you a work at home job where they want to send money to your personal bank account so you can buy supplies or anything else for the company’s purposes, you should stay away.
Real companies don’t EVER ask to use your bank account for anything to do with their business!
A reader on Facebook also pointed out that if you do a search online for the address posted on any of these websites, it’s inaccurate and bogus. The scammers clearly just put up a random address for either a vacant spot or something else entirely because they assume no one will bother to check, and they know that contact information is important to have if you want to look “real.” Scary! The phone number listed is also bogus and the email you receive may come from a free email account like Yahoo, Gmail, or AOL. If it looks like it came from the company, just hit the “reply” button and see if it goes back to a free email. That’s another sign.
Something else I noticed is that the job sounds so appealing while not being over-the-top too good to be true. There are certainly virtual assistants out there who might be making that much per month, although there are also many that make much less. The job posting additionally does not seem to require much experience to make this kind of money, which is another big red flag. Companies offering a guaranteed salary of nearly $3K per month are not likely to hire just anyone with no real experience and not even conduct a phone interview.
If you are contacted via email about a work from home job with any of the company names listed above or anything else where you’re told you can be a virtual assistant/personal assistant and get a guaranteed near $3K salary during your one-month trial period, just delete that email and don’t proceed.
If you do visit the website given in the email and see a FAQ, check it and see if it says that you’ll have to use your own bank account for customer purchases, etc. or company supplies using funds they send you.
This scam has been going around for a long time, and I think these people set up new websites all the time to dupe people so they’re not always traced back to one company name.
Here are links to a few complaints online about this same scam:
- Another Scambook complaint
- And Another from Scambook (there are several of these)
- Scam report from a blog
All scams bother me, but this one REALLY did because of the great lengths these scammers have gone to to make themselves appear legitimate. Most of the work from home scams I come across, it’s pretty obvious what’s going on. This one is not as obvious, especially since they have themselves set up on every site like a real business complete with contact info, information for potential clients, etc. Definitely watch out for this one!