Scam of the day – March 5, 2017 – A new mystery shopper scam

I have written about mystery shopper scams many times over the last few years, but I am making mystery shopper scams the topic of today’s Scam of the day because I just received a new email that you may have received as well.  In addition, these scams continue to snag many unwary victims so it is important to remind everyone to be aware of 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.

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:

“Hello, We are a company engaged in the mystery shopper field.
We need a team filled some people with age, residence location, experience and other different.
Description;
You will be assigned to visit the shop, store, bank, etc
You have to pretend to be a normal potential customers who’re looking for a specific product/service
You will then complete questionnaires online to share with us your customer’s experience
Get $350/assignment, at least 2 assignments/week will be assigned.
Requirements;
18 years old or above
Can read and write English
Can speak the local language well
Registration;
If you are interested reply this email fill out information below to get started :
�  Full Name :
�  Full Address :
�  City/State/Zip :
�  Gender/Age :
�  Email Address :
�  Phone Number :
So we can look at your distance from the locations which you have to put your service, and your address would also be need for your payments.
Best Regards
Head of Recruitment
 � 2005-2017 Agent Center for MysteryShoppers – All Rights Reserved”

TIP

One reason why this scam snares 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.

Scam of the day – January 25, 2017 – College student employment scams

The FBI is issuing a new warning about a college student employment scam that they first warned us about three years ago.   Scammers lure students into the scam through ads on college employment websites or through emails in which the students are told that they can do administrative work from their dorm room.  Once the victim falls for the bait, he or she is sent what appears to be a legitimate check that the student is directed to deposit into their checking account and use some of the funds to obtain equipment, software or other materials necessary to perform their job.

Unfortunately, the check is counterfeit.  After the student has wired funds from his or her own account, as requested by the scammer, he or she learns that the check has bounced, but the money wired from his or her own account to the scammers is lost forever.

Here is an example of one of the emails used in this scam:

“You will need some materials/software and also a time tracker to commence your training and orientation and also you need the software to get started with work. The funds for the software will be provided for you by the company via check. Make sure you use them as instructed for the software and I will refer you to the vendor you are to purchase them from, okay.”

TIPS

The FBI advises students to never accept a job that necessitates depositing checks into your account or wiring funds to other people.  This is a telltale sign 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 by your bank 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 or to someone else.  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 – January 17, 2016 – Another mystery shopper scam

Although there is nothing new about secret shopper scams or mystery shopper scams as they are sometimes called, they are scams that remain popular and  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.  I have blocked out the email address and website address included in the email:

“Description-Job
You will be assigned to visit a shop.
You will then finish an online questionnaire to share with us your customer experience.
Requirements
17 year old or above,can read and write English.
No Experience needed like Shopping.
Pay Job
You will get U$325 for each assignment.
Most of the time you will only need to spend 17 minutes on the visit.
Names:
Address Line:
City:
State:
Zip Code:
Mobile Phone Number:
For more details> Email > ********************
You can go to our site to apply:  **************************************
Jordan Miller
Paid Surveys
Secret-Shopper”

The manner in which the scam works is that when you answer an advertisement or an email to become a secret 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.

TIP

One reason why this scam snares 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.  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  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.

Scam of the day – November 13, 2015 – Another 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:

“Perhaps, I may have a part-time job that you would find this interesting. We are looking for outstanding Brand Assessors (Secret Shoppers) to help evaluate sales performance and customer service in USA. We operate in a range of diverse business sectors, such as Retail,Hotels, Automotive, Supermarkets, Restaurants, Pub Retail, Banking and more. You will need to have a passion for standards, be conscientious,articulate, and fair. There are no hidden fees, there’s no-catch. Secret shoppers normally get paid between $250-$400 per assignment so you can earn as much as three thousand dollars a month for doing something that can make a real difference. Shoppers are expected to complete their mystery shopping assignment and fill out an evaluation form, answering questions about their shopping experience in the establishment, the quality of customer service, etc.

To start earning money immediate, reply this email with the following information below to sign up :

Full Name:
Physical
Address:
City,State,Zip,Code:
Mobile
Number:
Age:
Gender:
OCCUPATION:
EMAIL:

Thanks for responding, We will wait for your full details .

Regards,
Derrick Hay
Candidate
Recruitment
Team Secret Shopper @2015”

The manner in which the scam works is that when you answer an  advertisement or an email to be a mystery shopper, you are sent a bank check for you 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 able to keep some of the balance of the check as payment for your services.   You are instructed to return the balance 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.

TIP

One reason why this scam snares 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.  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  which is given after a few days, but which can be rescinded 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 – August 6, 2015 – Care.com babysitting scam

Care.com is a legitimate website where caregivers can connect with families that need their services.  Recently, however, care.com was abused by a scammer who almost succeeded in stealing thousands of dollars from an unwary St. Louis teenager looking for a job as a baby sitter.  The young girl signed up on Care.com and soon thereafter received emails from two women who said that they were moving to St. Louis and wanted to hire her.  The women both said they were very busy and needed to have her buy some clothes, toys and other goods so that items would be there when the women got to St. Louis.  One woman sent a check for $2,700 and the other sent a check for $1,970.  In each case, the women told the teenager to make the necessary purchases and wire the remaining money back to them.  This is a standard ploy used in many different scams where a bogus counterfeit check is sent for more than the amount owed is sent to the victim who deposits the check and then ends up sending his or her own money when the check ends up bouncing.  Some people, thinking they are being smart wait a few days for the check to clear during which time the bank provides provisional credit which may make it appear that the check has cleared, however when the check ultimately bounces, the victim is left having sent his or her own money to the scammer.  Fortunately, in this case, the teenager’s mother Coleen Carroll recognized the telltale signs of a scam and was able to save her daughter from becoming a scam victim.

TIPS

Care.com and other similar websites monitor communications between people using their website, however, the scammers were able to convince the teenager to communicate with them by off site emails which is often a sign of a scam.  Also, when hiring anyone for a caregiver job, you would want to meet with them personally.  You should be skeptical of someone who is willing to hire someone for such a position without ever meeting him or her.  In addition, never accept a check for more than what is owed you with the understanding that you will send your check for the balance.   This is always a scam.

Scam of the day – December 26, 2014 – Nanny scam

We are now in the midst of the Winter vacation period between the Fall and the Spring semesters at colleges and universities around the country with many college students looking for part-time work as nannies and babysitters.  Many college students use legitimate websites such as care.com to look for nanny and baby sitting job opportunities.  Rebecca Holgreen recently answered a posting on care.com in which a family indicated they were moving from Australia to Chicago and needed the services of a nanny.  Rebecca responded to the advertisement and was sent a check for $1,850 and told to use the money to buy groceries and other items for the family’s home, keep $400 for herself and exchange the rest for Green Dot Money Pack cards.   She was told to email the account numbers for the cards to the family.  You may be able to have guessed how this story ends.  Of course, the check was a counterfeit one although it appeared to have been cleared by the bank before Rebecca made her purchases and sent the rest of the money back to the scammers by turning over to them the account numbers for the Green Dot Money Pack cards purchased with what turned out to be Rebecca’s money from her own checking account.  Despite her best efforts to contact the family, she never was able to make contact with them after the check bounced.

TIPS

This is just another variation on the scam whereby the victim, for whatever purposes receives a check in excess of the amount to paid to the victim and asks the victim to send back the difference.  There are a number of tell tale signs to look for and steps to take to avoid this type of scam.  First, you need to remember that although a check may appear to have been cleared by your bank after a few days, all you are really getting is “provisional credit” and when the counterfeit check eventually bounces, the credit is taken back from your account and you are left having sent your own money to the scammer.  It is also important to note that merely because you are dealing with a legitimate website such as care.com, no website is able to completely guarantee that every posting on it is legitimate.  Sending excess funds back to someone using prepaid money cards is another tell tale sign of a possible scam.  Scammers use these cards because they are all but impossible to trace and once the information from the card has been provided to the scammer, the victim is out of luck.  The prudent thing to do when being paid by a check is to wait until the check has fully cleared before you can feel confident that the funds actually are in your account.  This may take a few weeks.

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.

 

Scam of the day – September 26, 2013 – Mystery shopper scam update

The mystery shopper scam is a tried and true scam that scammers still use to steal their victims’ money because the scam still works.  Recent reports have surfaced about the mystery shopper scam turning up in the Cleveland area, but the scam is found throughout the country.  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.  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.

Scam of the day – August 12, 2013 – Global Processing Inc lottery scam

Lottery scams are one of the most effective scams and with good reason.  Who wouldn’t want to win a lottery?  One of the lottery scams presently being reported begins when you receive a letter from a company called Global Processing, Inc. although I should caution you, this same scam is done under other names, as well.  The letter informs you that you have won a large sum of money, such as $250,000 and also comes with a check, sometimes certified for $4,686 to help you pay the required processing fee of $3,250 in one version of the scam presently being circulated.  The check looks good and if you deposit it, your bank may appear to indicate to you that the check has cleared in a few days so you can feel confident sending your own check for the processing fee.  However, banks are required to give only provisional credit after a few days and when the counterfeit check ultimately bounces, the bank removes the money from your account and you are left having sent your own money, usually by wire, to a scammer.

TIPS

It is very hard to win a lottery.  It is impossible to win a lottery that you have not entered.  If it is a foreign lottery, it is illegal for Americans to play foreign lotteries.  As for the crux of the scam, no legitimate lottery requires you to pay processing fees and if they were going to provide money to you to pay for the fee, why wouldn’t they merely deduct that amount from your winnings?  It just doesn’t make sense.  Don’t let greed blind you from common sense.  The payment of a check in an amount more than is due and then asking you to pay the difference is the basis of many variations of this scam.

Scam of the day – May 2, 2013 – Craigslist scam update

Often I will remind you about particular types of scams I have mentioned before because they continue to victimize many people.  Earlier this week a Pennsylvania man became a victim of a common Craigslist scam when he put an ad on Craigslist to sell a piece of furniture for $350.  He was contacted by someone who sent him a check for $1,350 and asked the seller to merely deposit the check, deduct the $350 and send the rest back to the buyer by way of a money order.  The check looked legitimate so the seller deposited it and sent the difference back to the buyer.  Unfortunately, the check was a forgery so the seller lost the money he sent to the scam artist posing as a buyer.  Often in these circumstances the check will appear to be a bank check or a certified check, but it is just a forgery.  Other times, the sellers will think they are being prudent by waiting a few days for the check to clear only to learn later that it can take weeks for a check to fully clear and the provisional credit that they are given by the bank after a few days does not mean that the check was not a forgery because once it is recognized as a forgery, the provisional credit is taken away by the bank and the victim is left with a reduced bank account.

TIPS

Whenever you are paid for something that you are selling by a check for more than the amount that is due and that payment comes with a request for you to send the difference back to the buyer, you should consider this a sign that this is a  scam.  Also, anytime you are paid by a check you should wait for the check to fully clear before turning over the sold goods.  Even if the check appears to be a bank check or a certified check, it may well be a forgery so you should contact your bank to make sure that the check has fully cleared before you consider the payment to have been made.  Regardless of the excuse that may be given to you as to the reason for payment by way of a check for more than what is owed, you should be suspicious.  Finally, always be wary when someone requires you to send payment by Western Union or wired from your bank because once those payments have been made, it is impossible to get the money back.