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  Don’t rely on provisional credit  which is given after a few days, but which can be rescinded once a check bounces and never accept a check for more than what is owed with the intention to send back the rest.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 – 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.