Scam of the day – May 4, 2017 – New mystery shopper scam

I recently warned you about mystery shopper scams, however because these scams continue to snare so many unsuspecting victims, I am including the most recent mystery shopper scam email that is presently circulating as today’s Scam of the day.   Mystery shoppers are people hired to shop at a particular store and report on the shopping experience for purposes of quality control.  Unlike many scams, there actually are legitimate mystery shopper companies, but they never advertise or recruit through emails.

The manner in which the scam works is that when you answer an advertisement or an email to become a mystery shopper, you are sent a bank check to deposit and use for your shopping.  You spend some of the money on the goods that you purchase which you are allowed to keep and also are directed to keep some of the balance of the check as payment for your services.   You are instructed to return the remaining funds by a wire transfer.  The problem is that the check is counterfeit, but the money you send by wire from your own bank account is legitimate and that money is gone from your bank account forever.

Here is a copy of the email I recently received:

 “Mystery Shopper is accepting applications for qualified individuals to become mystery shoppers. It’s fun and rewarding, and you choose when and where you want to shop. You are never obligated to accept an assignment. There is no charge to become a shopper and you do not need previous experience.
 Mystery Shopper NEVER charge fees to become a shopper, mystery shoppers are paid a prearranged fee for a particular shop, We have available for immediate assignment an inspection of the customer service of some stores and businesses in your area. This fee will be paid upfront. During this shop you will visit the location and make several observations as regards the customer service. You will be required to interact with the shop clerk. You may conduct the shop alone or as a couple.
 Please note: If this message goes to your spam mail, you need to move it to your inbox for the link to redirect to our sign up page.
Mystery Shopping Services”

One reason why this scam fools so many people is that there really are mystery shopping jobs although the actual number is quite few and they do not go looking for you. An indication 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  which is given after a few days, but which can be rescinded once a check bounces 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.

Additionally, this particular scam email was sent by the email address of a person entirely unrelated to any mystery shopping company which is generally an indication that you are getting the email sent from an unsuspecting victim of an email hacking whose email address is now being used as a part of a botnet of similarly hacked computers to send out scam emails such as this.

16 thoughts on “Scam of the day – May 4, 2017 – New mystery shopper scam”

  1. Yes- This is crazy – they are getting smarter & smarter too. I got an email through LinkedIn from a friend I went to college with about Quest for Best Mystery Shoppers, which is indeed a reputable company. I signed up and within the hour, got a message from a GMAIL, not a Quest for Best email, asking for me to receive a check. Obvi, I knew this was a scam right away and did not respond. I went to the Quest for Best website, found their real email addresses and forwarded this scammer’s email over to them. Apparently they are aware of this guy and trying to find him. The guy even had the QFB logo in the email….So scary!

    1. Thanks for your sharing your email with Scamicide readers. We are all in this together. I am really glad that you were sufficiently skeptical to not fall for this scam which evolves to become more sophisticated. Good job!

    2. Same thing happened to me, same company! It came thru LinkedIn as well and supposedly from a co-worker….whose account was hacked. They express mailed me a check and then sent follow up emails to see if I deposited it. I knew better, but hey, maybe we can catch these scammers. I contacted the bank they sent the check from and sent them a copy. I now have the guys phone number and know where he lives! Tomorrow I go to law enforcement. The fact they sent a fraudulent check thru the US mail is also mail fraud! Oh and I’ll be calling him tomorrow……….from the police dept! I’ll let you know how it goes!

      1. Thanks for your email and for being smart enough to recognize a scam that still manages to steal money from many people. You are correct about this manner of the mystery shopper scam being mail fraud. Glad you are reporting it to the authorities. Hopefully, these scammers can be found, tried and convicted. Please keep us updated.

    3. Exact same here-trusted LinkedIn connection. I signed up and actually received a bogus cashier check for 2,678.00. Telling me to keep $350.00 and instructions would follow..

  2. Thanks for sharing this. i received an email from someone I used to work with and she knew how much I loved to shop, so i thought this was legit and i signed up. I got an approved email and believed i was signed up.
    Today I got a text and then a detailed email from the same guy, claiming funds had been mailed via USPS, with instructions to spend $45 at Gap and to use $350 as weekly commission and buy 16 $100 I Tunes gift cards with the rest. That’s when I got suspicious. Who pays you $1995 before a job? The next line read:
    After purchase of the cards, The cards will be used to fund further projects/research, eliminating the need to post you checks for future assignments.
    “ITUNES GIFT CARD” Open the pack, remove the label in front of the cards and scratch the card gently and send the pictures of the scratch cards and email to us.

    1. Thanks for sharing your story. It is important for people to become aware of all of the many variations of the mystery shopper scam. Another key takeaway from your story is that sometimes well meaning friends may pass along scams without being aware that they are scams, however, we are more likely to believe in the scam because it comes from a friend. In other instances, our friends emails or phone may be hacked and the messages aren’t even coming from our friends, but rather from a scammer posing as our friends. Please let your friends know about Scamicide so they can be alerted to the dangers of scams and identity theft.

  3. I am here checking out the same guy (The Quest for The Best). Stated a PO box in Memphis tenn. Same thing a contact from a friend through Linked In. Same basic thing big check, buy aspirin, keep $300.00 + $50.00 logistics. The rest in I tunes gift cards (WTF) for future projects. I will do the same call the bank and send then pictures. I may even deposit the check and wait to make sure it doesn’t clear . Heck I may even buy the aspirin (we can always use it) fill out the form and send it in. Sure as heck won’t buy an I tunes card, (well maybe 1 since it is for me we can use it some time). When the check bounces will turn over to post master, local police etc.

    I tried to follow the RAW E-mail files back to the originating IP address, went through Google and back to a private IP address. Most likely can’t any farther with it.

    P.S. this person needs to learn how to spell.

    1. Thanks for your email. It is always helpful to learn the specifics of the various forms of this scam. You seem to have it well in hand. Please keep us informed. As for the spelling issue, many scams originate in countries where English is not their first language, which may account for the poor spelling. In other instances, perhaps the scammers didn’t pay much attention in school. Who knows?

  4. I wish I read all that earlier. I also received a check from “Quest for Best” with same requirements and deposited it. Good part is – I didn’t do any shopping. How would you recommend to handle it from here? Call the bank to investigate? Should I report it somewhere?

    1. Because you did not send any money to the scammer from your bank account you are fine. The best thing for you to do now is to refrain from any contact with the scammer and report the scam to your state attorney general and, most importantly, the FTC. You can report it to the FTC through this link.

  5. Why is “Quest for Best” accredited through the BBB? They sent me a postal money order which im almost certain has to be purchased up front? Still I am apprehensive to attempt to cash because if it is fraudulent i may be held liable.

    1. Quest for Best is a legitimate company, however, you can’t be sure that the real Quest for Best contacted you. It is more likely that you were contacted by a scammer posing as Quest for Best. My advice is to contact the real Quest for Best and confirm whether or not your were contacted by them. Let us know what you learn.

  6. I stopped the process after receiving a cashiers check in the mail.

    I reported this as mail fraud:

    Here’s what I described in the report:

    I received 3 emails from Steve David using a email address. On 8/30/2017 I received Priority Mail 2-Day mail with a letter and cashiers check. The from address is Jason Kearney, 953 Lees Ave, Long Beach, CA 90815.

    I did a web search about “quest for best scam” and discovered quite a few comments indicating a scam:

    On 8/31/2017 I called Quest For Best using the toll free number on to see if they have me registered as a mystery shopper. They asked who had contacted me; I told them “Steve David”. They immediately told me it was a scam.

    1. Thanks for your email. You handled it correctly. Quest for Best is a legitimate company, but, as you know, you were contacted by a scammer who used their name. Real mystery shopper companies do not contact people unsolicited.

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