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White collar crimes: what are California work-at-home scams?

In California, there are many people who possess an entrepreneurial spirit. However, anyone who has started a business can attest to the difficulties of getting started, particularly when funds are low. These individuals may be tempted to try to secure funds from others to startup their business, or even offer their employees work from home opportunities. But, those considering doing this should be careful, as any misuse or mishandling of money may be seen as criminal and result in criminal prosecution.

There are many "work-at-home" scams that the FBI keeps an eye out for and aggressively pursues. One is known as an advanced fee scheme. In these cases, people are offered a way to start up their own business, but first must submit a payment to obtain inventory and other business materials. When those materials arrive though, if the items ever actually do arrive, the items are often worthless. Worse yet, the purchaser's money is not returned.

Another type of work-at-home scam involves a counterfeit check to pay a "mystery shopper." Here, a large check is sent to an individual with instructions to cash it, use some of the funds to shop at select stores to assess the shopping experience, keep a little for him or herself and then send the remainder to the employer. Nonetheless, the check is sometimes alleged to be counterfeit, causing the employee to lose out on money and potentially face criminal allegations, while the employer receives its share without criminal liability.

This is just a handful of work-at-home schemes. As can be seen, for authorities to obtain a criminal conviction and impose penalties, several elements of the crime must be proven beyond a reasonable doubt. A criminal defense attorney experienced at handling white collar crimes may be able to help accused individuals push back against such allegations, and, hopefully, find a resolution that is favorable.

Source: FBI.gov, "Work-at-Home Scams," accessed on Aug. 15, 2015

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