Scam of the day – August 3, 2015 -New Walmart mystery shopper scam

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.

“Hello,

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:

http://hosting.elmark.co.ke/Walmart/

Thanks for reading”

 

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 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.

Scam of the day – June 13, 2015 – Law firm scammer pleads guilty

Law firms have become prime targets for scammers.   Recently, Muhammad Naji pleaded guilty to charges related to a common law firm scam that is a variation of a scam that has been often used successfully against individuals and is now being slightly adapted to use against law firms.  The scam starts when a law firm receives an email from someone seeking to hire the law firm to represent the sender of the email in a contract dispute.  Phony documentation is provided to the law firm and promptly upon the law firm sending out an initial demand letter to the person with whom the scammer allegedly has a dispute, a bank certified check made payable to the law firm is sent to the law firm in settlement of the dispute.  The client/scammer then instructs the law firm to deposit the check, deduct its fee and wire the balance to the client/scammer’s account.  The problem is that the bank certified check is counterfeit and worthless.  Too often law firms will merely accept that the legitimate looking check is real and wire the funds before the check has cleared thereby sending the law firm’s own money to the scammer.  By the time the check is found to be counterfeit, the money has long since been sent to the scammer.  To make things worse, banks generally give provisional credit to a deposited check after a few days so it may appear as if the check has cleared, but it has not and when it eventually bounces, the credit is taken back from the account.

TIPS

Although in the case of Muhammad Naji, this scam involved a law firm, scams using phony bank certified checks are common.  Individuals may find themselves at risk when they sell something and the person buying the goods sends what appears to be a bank certified check in an amount more than the sales price of whatever is being sold with the instruction to deposit the check and send back the difference to the scammer.  The best way to protect yourself from this scam is to first call the bank from which the check appears to originate to see if it is legitimate or not and then to wait for it to fully clear before counting on the money as being there.

Scam of the day – September 9, 2014 – Nigerian gangs use Craigslist for scams

In a paper to be presented later this month at the IEEE eCrime Research Summit in Birmingham, Alabama researchers Damon McCoy and Jackie Jones of George Mason University will disclose how they uncovered a group of five Nigerian gangs, who with the cooperation of accomplices in the United States re using Craigslist advertisements to scam people selling goods on Craigslist.  The method used by these gangs is one that I have warned you about many times in the past.  It starts when the scammers answer a legitimate advertisement and then send what appears to be a certified check in excess of the amount owed for the purchase.  The scammer then asks that the goods be sent to an address in the United States and the money from the certified check in excess of the purchase price be wired by Western Union to a person designated by the scammer in the United States.  Of course, the check is a forgery, albeit an often excellent forgery.  Sometimes the victims think they are being prudent by waiting a few days for the funds to be deemed available by their bank without realizing that they are only receiving provisional credit for the funds represented by the check and that once the check bounces and determined to be a forgery, the amount of the check is removed from the victim’s account who now has lost not just the money wired to the scammer, but also the goods that they have already shipped.

TIPS

Craiglist can work well if you take proper precautions.  The primary rule if you are a seller is to never accept any payment other than cash in a face to face meeting at which the item is exchanged for the cash.  Phony certified checks in excess of the purchase amount is a common scam, however, you should never accept any check.  Banks will appear to clear a check after a few days and it will look like the funds have been deposited into your account, but you have only received temporary, provisional credit which, once the check proves to be counterfeit will be removed from your account.

Scam of the day – July 29, 2013 – Car wrap scams

We have all seen car wraps which are advertisements for a company wrapped around a car.  For someone looking for some money for very little effort, this may seem like a match made in heaven.  But if you are not careful, it could be a match made in scam hell.  One way scammers exploit legitimate advertising through car wraps is by either putting an ad on the Internet or contacting you through a mass email in which they seek people to have their car’s used for advertising through this technique called shrink wrapping.  Unsuspecting victims respond to the advertisement and are sent a check for actually more than the amount that the victim is owed.  The victim is instructed to deposit the check in his or her bank account and wire the rest back to the company.  This is where the scam comes in.  The check that the scammer sends you is a counterfeit and bogus.  Unfortunately, the money that you wire the scammer comes right out of your bank account and is almost impossible to retrieve.  This scam of sending you a check for more than what you are to be paid is used in many other scam variations.

TIPS

Always be wary if someone asks you to wire money to them as a part of a business transaction.  Scammers do this all the time because it is quick and almost impossible to stop.  In addition, even if you get what appears to be a certified check and wait a few days for the check to clear, you will still be out of luck because it takes weeks for a check to fully clear.  What your bank does is only give you conditional credit after a few days, which means that if the check turns out to be a counterfeit, the credit is removed from your account and if you have, in turn, made checks of your own, counting on the check being legitimate, you are out of luck and money.  A check sent to you by someone with whom you are doing business for whatever purpose that is more than the amount you are owed that comes with a request for you to send the overpayment amount back is a scam.  Don’t fall for it.