While the media may not be considered as trustworthy as it once was, the public still tends to trust the established media brands, and scammers know it. As a result, phony news sites promoting scams continue to prosper at the expense of the unwary.
A PICTURE IS WORTH 1,000 SCAMS
One of the most common ways scammers dupe job seekers is to repurpose a journalist's clip about legitimate home-based jobs.
For example, in a case we ourselves investigated, a video of consumer reporter Tracy Davidson of NBC 10 in Philadelphia was "repurposed" on dozens of phony news sites.
In the clip, Davidson interviews a mom who has found legitimate home-based work. However, the clip has been carefully edited to make it appear that Davidson is endorsing the work-at-home "opportunity" discussed on the phony site. Despite Davidson's efforts to halt the unauthorized use of her clip, it continues to appear on websites promoting a variety of dubious offers.
BOGUS TESTIMONIALS, AKA "TESTIPHONYALS"
Another hallmark of the phony media site is the use of bogus testimonials. Often, to appeal to as many site visitors as possible, the "testimonials" will be credited to individuals with generic-sounding names. For example, so-called customers might include "Kim Smith" or "Steve Windsor" or "Debbie Jones."
The photos of these "happy customers" will also appear generic. Faces often include a "blonde college student" or a "happy senior couple" or a "young suburban mom."
OUTING THE SCAMMERS
Scammers are lazy, and the text and photos accompanying the "testimonials" are often used again and again. One way to verify the authenticity of a testimonial is to run the web page through an anti-plagiarism search engine like Copyscape.com.
To check the photos, do a "reverse image search" at TinEye.com. This site will tell you where a given photo or other image appears online. Many photos used in "testimonials" are taken from StockPhoto.com. Others are pirated from Facebook pages, and consumers are surprised to find themselves endorsing various pyramid marketing schemes, "free grant money" scams and miracle health drinks from the Amazon rainforest.
THE FTC STEPS IN
The fake news site trend has gotten so bad that the FTC has had to step in. Many of the sites promote "rapid weight loss" remedies, often featuring acai berry supplements. The FTC devotes an entire page to such sites, at http://1.usa.gov/12VFgrp.
As the FTC warns, "These fake news sites also feature offers to send you a 'free trial' of acai berry or 'colon cleanse' products for the cost of shipping and handling. Many people have paid more for participation in the so-called free trials, and also for recurring shipments."
Christine Durst and Michael Haaren are leaders in the work-at-home movement and advocates of de-rat-raced living. Their latest book is "Work at Home Now," a guide to finding home-based jobs. They offer additional guidance on finding home-based work at www.RatRaceRebellion.com. To read features by other Creators Syndicate writers and cartoonists, visit the Creators Syndicate Web page at www.creators.com.