15 Popular Side Hustles That’re Prone to Scams

Many people around the nation seek a side hustle, whether they want to earn extra money apart from their primary job or are students. Who will not like the idea of making extra money? The allure is surely intriguing. However, not all side jobs are legitimate or worth pursuing. With the rise of platforms and opportunities, there has also been a rise in scams.

 Pyramid Scheme

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This scheme often disguises itself as a Multilevel Marketing (MLM) opportunity. It involves building a network of people; it’s more about recruiting people than selling products or services. According to the Federal Trade Commission (FTC), the Pyramid Scheme, also known as Network Marketing, is illegal. It has mostly left individuals with financial losses and breakdowns.

On November 8, 2023, the Eastern District of Texas returned an indictment charging a couple with operating an MLM. Throughout the operation, they had scammed thousands of participants out of more than $10 Million.

Envelope Stuffing

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While getting money and stuffing envelopes may sound luring, they differ from what they sound like. Such schemes extract upfront fees from individuals. Besides, they are never legitimate. Genuine companies never go envelope-stuffing. Even if it occurs, it is at a low wage rate.

One of the reports published by the FTC busted another such lie. It was reported that a call recording was played when people called a toll-free number, with most of the instructions and a promise of $5 per envelope. Everyone had to pay $35 as registration charges. Later, they were either sent nothing or given an envelope asking them to publish an ad in the newspaper.

Online Surveys

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While many online surveys are genuine, where research companies pay genuine fees, a few can also be scams. They ask for a prepayment from the users, sell the user data without compensation, or simply ask for an early fee.

In 2021, USA Today covered news about scammers sending store surveys impersonating Amazon. That was when the elders did not get much loss for the first time. However, the youth aged 18-24 years suffered a median loss of $150

Data Entry Jobs

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Like Envelope Stuffing, data entry jobs are also advertised as work-from-home jobs, which are probable scams. They ask for an advance fee in the name of training and later provide minimal wage or nonexistent jobs. Many Reddit users have testified about scams in recent times.

Crypto Currency Scam

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With the growing popularity of cryptocurrency, scams have also increased. Ponzi schemes, fake initial currency offerings, and phishing scams have targeted crypto investors, ultimately leading to huge financial losses.
Scams like these have reported huge financial losses; one such major case is of Brooklyn, where the victim, who was in the process of divorce, was scammed of $118,000.


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Although there are reputable dropshipping companies, many opportunities are fraudulent. Certain schemes offer little in the way of real earnings and require large expenditures in merchandise or training. Saturated markets and intense rivalry further make dropshipping difficult.  While it is not a scam, it might not be as profitable as it is shown to be.

High-Yield Investment Programs (HYIPs)

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HYIPs frequently use ambiguous or deceptive tactics to guarantee investors large returns on their money in a short amount of time. However, these programs are usually Ponzi schemes, which means that most participants lose money since they use the money from new investors to pay the members who have already joined.

Selling on Online Marketplaces

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Even if sites like eBay and Amazon provide reputable venues for product sales, some people become victims of fraud involving stolen items, counterfeit goods, or dishonest purchasers. You should always do your homework and proceed with care when selling online.
Recent investigations by the FBI reveal increased scams involving online marketplaces, including counterfeit goods and fraudulent transactions. Consumers are advised to exercise caution when buying or selling online.

Mystery Shopping Scams

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While there are real chances for mystery shopping, con artists may appear as reputable businesses to defraud unwary people of their money or personal information. It is important to confirm the authenticity of mystery shopping offers and steer clear of those that demand money in advance.

This is one of the latest scams. One such incident happened when a scammer fraudulently used the Confero name to attempt to trick consumers into providing personal information, cashing fake checks, and then sending them funds. The scammer claimed that he had a mystery shop assignment and asked for the person’s personal details to assign them the task.

Work-From-Home Assembly Tasks

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Employers who post job openings for assembly or craft-making tasks sometimes ask candidates to buy pricey kits or supplies in advance. Nevertheless, these possibilities rarely generate much money, so participants don’t get anything in return for their money.

Scams Involving Online Tutoring

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As demand for education grows, some con artists prey on prospective tutors by offering them high-paying positions. These frauds might request advance payments for background checks or training in exchange for low-paying or nonexistent teaching jobs.

In 2017, the FBI reported another such fraud: more than 100 school districts were victimized.

Affiliate Marketing Scams

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Although affiliate marketing has the potential to be a reliable source of passive income, some schemes make extravagant claims about earnings or demand high upfront costs. Furthermore, some affiliate marketing plans promote phony or subpar goods, harming the marketer’s reputation.

In March 2020, affiliate marketers behind My Online Business Education (MOBE) settled FTC charges by paying more than $4 million behind a fraudulent business coaching and investment scheme.  Consumers paid as much as $60,000 for MOBE “mentoring” services. “These so-called ‘affiliates’ helped MOBE swindle consumers out of millions of dollars by making outlandish and false earnings claims,” said Andrew Smith, Director of the FTC’s Bureau of Consumer Protection.

Credit Repair Scams

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People with bad credit may become victims of schemes that purport to improve their credit in exchange for a swift payment. Nevertheless, these con games sometimes entail illicit activities or offer subpar services, leaving victims in even worse financial circumstances.

Scams Targeting Aspiring Social Media Influencers

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These individuals may make false promises to increase their fan base or profit from their accounts swiftly. Over time, these schemes can seriously harm an influencer’s reputation by purchasing phony followers, influencing them, or involving them in dubious sponsorship agreements.

According to the BBB, several victims reported first having to buy items, anything from sunglasses to jewelry to cosmetics. According to reports, the items cost $50 or more and arrived broken or unusable. Other times, the scammer charged victims upfront for a “background check.”

Get-Rich-Quick Schemes

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“GET RICH IN 24 HOURS.” if someone tells you something as such, you should up your guard there.

Caution should be exercised when engaging in any side business that offers significant returns with little work. Most get-rich-quick schemes are frauds that take advantage of people’s desire for rapid fortune and frequently cost them money.

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