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 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. Below is a copy of an email that is presently being circulated that appears to come from Walmart telling the recipient that he or she has been chosen to be a mystery shopper. The email address from which it is sent is Walmart@inc.walmart.edu which is not a legitimate Walmart email. One key indication that it is not a legitimate email address for Walmart is that it ends with .edu which is reserved for educational institutions. The way the scam progresses is that if you respond, you are asked to deposit a check into 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 waited a few days for the check to clear. They then wired 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.
Here is a copy of the email presently being circulated. DO NOT CLICK ON THE LINK.
You have been selected for a mystery shopping position
· Assignment location:
· START DATE: Immediate
· COMMISSION: $170.00 Per Survey
READ ABOUT US AND FILL THE ONLINE APPLICATION FORM:
Thanks for reading”
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 your 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.