Scam of the day – June 6, 2014 – Secret shopper scam

Although there is nothing new about secret shopper scams or mystery shopper scams as they are sometimes called, they are scams that are still constantly finding new victims.  I picked today to make this the Scam of the day because I received a scam secret shopper email that I am reproducing below:

Secret Shopper

A TRADITION OF EXCELLENCE

Secret Shopper®

Secret Shopper® is accepting applications for qualified individuals to become mystery shoppers and merchandisers. Its fun and rewarding, and you choose when and where you want to survey. You are never obligated to accept an assignment. There is no charge to become a shopper and you do not need previous experience. After you sign up, you will have access to training materials on our site.

You will write a report about the customer services of the outlet we would give you to evaluate.
The report will be sent back to us via Email, you will have to use the following pointers to prepare your report :

How long it took you to get services.
Ambiance/Outlook of the Shop/Outlet
Smartness of the attendant
Customer service professionalism
Reaction of personnel under pressure
Information that you think would be helpful
Your comments and impressions.

Kindly send us your You can Apply for a job with us now. Email us your

First Name:

Last Name:

House No./Street:

City:

State:

Zip Code:

Phone:

Mobile Phone:

Email:

Alternate Email:

And we would get back to you ASAP with further details on the program

Sincerely,
Recruiting Department,
Secret Shopper®

The mystery shopper scam is a tried and true scam that scammers still use to steal their victims’ money because the scam still works.   The scam begins when you are contacted by mail or email, such as the one featured above purportedly by a company asking you if you want a job as a mystery shopper who will be paid to shop at their store and then report on the shopping experience to assist in market research and improving customer relations.  The pitch sounds legitimate and often the emails and letters appear to be legitimate although it is easy to counterfeit a company’s logo and stationary.  Once you agree to be a mystery shopper, you are sent a certified bank check for an amount such as $5,000 which you are asked to deposit in your checking account and use the money to make purchases that you are allowed to keep.  You are then instructed to send the remaining funds back to the company.  Some victims, believing they were being careful deposited the check and thinking that they were being exceedingly careful, waited a few days for the check to clear.   They then wire the funds, as requested back to the company only to learn a few days later that the certified check sent to them was a counterfeit and their bank had only given them provisional credit for the check into their account.  Once the check is found to be a fake, the provisional credit is removed from the victim’s account and the victim has lost the money that he or she wired to the scammer.

TIP

One reason why this scam works so well is that there really are mystery shopping jobs although the actual number is quite few and they do not go looking for you.  If you want to find out if a mystery shopping company is legitimate, you can contact the Mystery Shopping Providers Association which is a trade organization of legitimate mystery shopping companies.  Their website is www.mysteryshop.org.  Other indications that you are involved with a scam is when you receive a check for more than what is owed you and you are asked to wire the difference back to the sender.  This is the basis of many scams.  Whenever you receive a check, wait for you bank to tell you that the check has fully cleared before you consider the funds as actually being in your account.  Don’t rely on provisional credit and never accept a check for more than what is owed with the intention to send back the rest.  That is always a scam.  Also be wary whenever you are asked to wire funds because this is a common theme in many scams because it is difficult to trace and impossible to stop.

 

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