Arlington police say they are seeing more and more work-from-home schemes.
"A lot of them are perpetrated over the Internet and they sound very appealing to the citizen at first -- work at home or be your own boss -- when they find out later that it is a scam," said Sgt. Steve Williams, of the department's Economic Crimes Unit.
The schemes include envelope stuffing, craft assembly and mystery shopping.
The most common mystery shopper scheme asks people to evaluate a money-wiring business. People receive a counterfeit check in the mail and are instructed to cash the check and then immediately wire money back.
By the time a bank typically finds out the check is counterfeit, the money has already been wired.
"That consumer is held responsible for what they tried to deposit, and now they're at a loss for the money that was sent to the suspects," Williams said.
The people behind the money-wiring schemes are often overseas or difficult to trace.
"They're doing it from behind a computer on the Internet," Williams said. "A lot of times, they're doing things to disguise who they are. They're not going to have the money sent to their front doors where officers can go knocking on the door and recover the money."
Police say people should be weary of upfront fees, membership requirements or requests for credit and personal information. People should research companies and check them out with the Better Business Bureau, they say.
More than anything else, people should use common sense, police say.
"If it's too good to be true, it usually is," Williams said.