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Bottom-Dollar Scam: Definition & Meaning

Updated: February 6, 2023

Some things in life seem too good to be true.

There are times when these seemingly impossible things are real. But as is often the case, most times they are in fact too good to be true.

Scammers make a living out of deceiving innocent people into believing their falsehoods and stealing their hard-earned money. While this is of course illegal, it can be incredibly difficult to track these con artists down and bring them to justice.

Often, the perpetrators of these crimes aren’t even living in the same country as their victims – making stopping them a near-impossible task.

The plots and ploys that these individuals make are numerous. One such example is known as the bottom-dollar scam.

But what exactly is a bottom-dollar scam?

Read on as we take you through the ins and outs of this type of grift in our in-depth guide on bottom-dollar scams.

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    • A bottom-collar scam is a deceptive claim made by swindlers or con artists who take advantage of vulnerable, unemployed people.
    • They work by making false claims about how they can make a significant amount of money through methods like working from home, mortgage modification, debt reduction, and other similar methods.
    • Following the Great Recession and the subprime mortgage crisis, the FTC initiated Operation Bottom Dollar in 2010 to take action against con artists who prey on jobless people in need of assistance.
    • Two key indicators of a bottom-dollar scam, according to the FTC, are the need for an upfront payment and the assurance of a job.
    • If you want to find out the legitimacy of a business, contact the Better Business Bureau (BBB) for further information.

    What Is a Bottom-Dollar Scam?

    A bottom-dollar scam is a fraudulent claim. It is perpetrated by con artists or “swindlers” who focus their illegalities on job seekers and vulnerable people in general. A bottom-dollar scam involves fake claims regarding the making of substantial deals of money. This is commonly through such avenues as debt reduction, working from home, mortgage modification, etc. 

    Bottom-dollar scams are also commonly referred to as “last-dollar” scams. 

    These scams are particularly unethical due to the people they target. It is mostly people who are desperately searching for a solution to their financial troubles due to job loss or illness. Often, being victimized by these scams worsens an already perilous financial situation. 

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    History of Bottom-Dollar Scams

    In the United States of America, the consumer protection watchdog is the Federal Trade Commission (FTC). They will more commonly refer to bottom-dollar scams as the aforementioned last-dollar scams. This is because they claim that the scams are mostly sold to struggling individuals with the intention of taking their last dollar. 

    In the wake of the Great Recession and the subprime mortgage crisis, in 2010 the FTC launched what was known as “Operation Bottom Dollar”. This operation had the express aim of cracking down on scam artists that were targeting desperate job seekers. 

    Since Operation Bottom Dollar, the unemployment rate has since significantly dropped. However, the FTC still continues to track and go after bottom-dollar scammers. 

    The 4 Main Types of Bottom-Dollar Scams

    The FTC states that there are two major red flags when it comes to identifying a bottom dollar scam:

    • A supposed requirement to pay any money upfront
    • The promise of a guaranteed job

    Bottom-dollar scams can take a number of different forms, some of these include:

    Job Ads

    These are ads that tend to run in the classified sections of various newspapers and other such publications. The fact that they are somewhat associated with a legitimate platform lends the scam a feeling of legitimacy. Giving the reader the sense that the offer is an actual job offering. 

    Work From Home Schemes

    This is arguably the most popular of these types of scams. They will mostly involve job offers that involve menial or low-skill tasks that anybody could do from home. Examples include assembling crafts or stuffing envelopes. 

    Government Jobs

    Some bottom-dollar scams will start by offering you the chance to gain a government-level job. This would be attractive due to the fact that government jobs traditionally offer stable income and regular work. The scammers would offer victims a job in exchange for a signing up fee of sorts, most likely a substantial amount. 

    This type of scam is regularly advertised by the FTC. This is because they can warn people that applying for U.S. government jobs will never require any form of upfront payment. 

    Employment Listing Services

    Some of these scams approach people with the offer of giving job seekers access to exclusive employment listings. This would be an attractive proposition due to the fact that these job listings could represent a potentially lucrative job offer. The scammers would ask people to provide an upfront fee for access to these listings. 

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    How to Avoid a Bottom-Dollar Scam

    There are a number of different ways you can protect yourself against bottom-dollar scam artists. The FTC’s advice for prospective job seekers is to always ask questions and check with the Better Business Bureau (BBB). This is for any complaints or suspicious suggestions against the entity that is offering you the job. 

    If you are offered a job, it is recommended that you let the business know that you have contacted the BBB for a BBB Business Profile. BBB Business Profiles are there to help guide your judgment on a job offering entity. Meaning you can have as much information as possible to help guide your decision. 

    If you do believe that you’ve been caught out by a potential scam, then contact the Federal Trade Commission and report the crime.


    Bottom-dollar scams are a way for con artists to target and prey upon people who are down on their luck or out of a job. Other types of scams include lottery scams, law enforcement scams as well as charitable organization scams. Online relationship romance scams are also a common way to trick people.

    If you want to avoid getting caught out by a scammer, make sure to take every preventative step outlined by the FTC. And make sure to check with the BBB before accepting any job offers.

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    FAQS on Bottom-Dollar Scams

    What Do You Do if You Get a Scam Call?

    If you get a suspected scam call you should never reveal any personal details or give out any information. This is especially true for your bank account details. You should then report the number to the FTC.

    What Is a CAPTCHA?

    CAPTCHA stands for Completely Automated Public Turing test to tell Computers and Humans Apart. It’s a tool used to differentiate between actual humans and scam bots.

    Why Do I Have to Complete a CAPTCHA?

    A CAPTCHA helps to protect a website from spam and abuse. This includes preventing any fake comments from bots, fraudulent purchases, or fake registration submissions.


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