Scam of the day – September 13, 2017 – A new twist on the mystery shopper scam

I have been warning you about mystery shopper scams for years, however these scams continue to trap unwary victims so it is important to alert you to new developments in this scam.

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.

I first learned about this particular mystery shopper scam when contacted by a Scamicide reader who thought she had been contacted by the National Shopping Service Network which is a legitimate mystery shopping company, however, the truth is that scammers are using the name of this legitimate company to fool unwary victims.

The manner in which the scam works is that when you answer an advertisement, an email or a text message to become a mystery shopper and you are sent a bank check or, in the case of the recent Scamicide reader, a US Postal Money Order, 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 generally instructed to return the remaining funds by a wire transfer.  In a new twist encountered by the Scamicide reader, the scammers wanted funds to be sent back by way of iTunes gift cards. The problem is that the check or money order is counterfeit, but the money you send by wire or by iTunes cards is real and lost forever.

 TIPS

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  Don’t rely on provisional credit  which is given after a few days, but which can be rescinded once a check bounces and never accept a check for more than what is owed with the intention to send back the rest.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  or send gift cards because this is a common theme in many scams because it is difficult to trace and impossible to stop.  Legitimate companies do not use gift cards as payments.

Specifically in regard to the real National Shopping Service Network, they do not communicate with people through private email addresses such as aol or gmail.  They also do not use cashier’s checks, iTunes cards or wire transfers for transactions.  These are indications of a scam.

Scam of the day – April 15, 2017 – A new mystery shopper scam

It has only been a month since I last 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:

“National Shopping Service Network, LLC  is one of the leading agency specialized in Global Customer Service Research. We are starting a very big research project in USA , This project takes place every week. So, we need to recruit Mystery Shoppers to work as a surveyor. You will get $200 – $300 for each assignment.

JOB DESCRIPTION:

You will be assigned to visit a shop.  You need to “pretend” to be a normal potential customer who is looking for a particular service or product.
You will then finish an on-line questionnaire to share with us your
customer experience.

Payment: Cashier Check or Money Order.

Send information below to get started If you are Interested.

Full_Name
Full Address (No PO BOX):
City:
State :
Zip Code :
Phone_Cell :
Gender_Age :
Email_Address:
Thanks for your participation.
Babb Williams
HR Manager
Customer Service Evaluation Team
The Premier Mystery Shopping Company
Copyright 2017®”

TIP

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.