How to Avoid Employment Schemes, Find a Legit Opportunity

The schemes come in all shapes and sizes -- from high tech to low tech. Some have slick Web sites or overseas telemarketing operations. Others appear in old fashioned classified ads or even on telephone poles.

But there is one thing all false job opportunities have in common: they will take your money instead of helping you make money.

The 'Crafty' Problem

The word "crafty" can mean skillful or dexterous, but there's another definition. "Crafty" can also mean tricky and deceitful. Authorities say the two definitions collided at a company called Angel Pin Creations.

VIDEO: Learn how to protect yourself from companies accused of duping job-seekers.

Crafter Teresa Yeast of Pennsylvania answered an ad for Angel Pin Creations, or APC, after her husband got laid off. The company's Web site claimed it would pay people as much as $500 a week to assemble small angel pins at home. Teresa thought that was something she could manage while caring for her two children with disabilities. So she sent APC $580 for a supply kit.

"I enjoy all different types of crafts," Yeast told "Good Morning America." "It was not money that I had to spare. It was money that I sent in that was in faith."

When the kit arrived, Teresa said a key supply needed to make the angels was missing. She said the instructions had huge gaps too.

"I think that was their objective, to wear you out, frustrate you to the point you give up and they have your money and you are just done," she said.

But Yeast pressed on, determined to do a good job, desperate to make some money for her family. She managed to send in her first sample. It was rejected. Then her second. Rejected. And a third and fourth. Also turned down.

"What happens inevitably is that the craft is rejected for some reason or another. It's not perfect in one way. It's not perfect in another way," said Monica Vaca of the Federal Trade Commission.

The FTC said alleges it's a classic scheme that's returned because of the recession. Investigators estimate APC made $832,000 in a single year by making "false and baseless claims that consumers could earn substantial income from angel pin assembly, when in fact they could not."

"What these fraudsters are doing is they look at the headlines and right now what's in the headlines is a very high unemployment rate ... so they know how to exploit vulnerabilities," Vaca said.

Yeast said she feels she transformed her own vulnerability into a victory for others, by feeding the FTC information about APC. Now the FTC is suing to shut the company down.

"I have been scammed and it hurts, it hurts a lot," Yeast said.

"Good Morning America" left several messages at Angel Pin Creations seeking comment, but never heard back. The company's Web site states that its offices are currently shut down because of the Federal Trade Commission action and links to the FTC page.

Job Schemes to Look Out For

One company sold people test preparation materials for government jobs, but the jobs in question do not even require a test.

Another claimed people could make a living by applying for vague government grants that don't exist.

Others sold people work-at-home opportunities involving bogus mystery shopper and rebate processing jobs.

Click here to go to the FTC's Web site and read more about the companies the agency is investigating for alleged employment scams.

Look for the Signs, Avoid the Schemes

There are several things you should look out for when considering supposed work-at-home opportunities or assistance getting jobs or grants:

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