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