The first Scam of the day for 2018 is one that has been discussed numerous times in’s Scams of the day, but it keeps catching unwary people so it is worth warning you again about it. The scam is the infamous mystery shopper 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 generally works is that when you answer an advertisement, an email or a text message to become a mystery shopper, you are sent a bank check. 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. The problem is that the check or money order is counterfeit, but the money you send by wire from your bank account is real and is lost forever.
Today’s Scam of the day was prompted by a Scamicide reader who almost was victimized by one of the new versions of this scam. She was solicited through an email and sent a $1,900 counterfeit check and told to go to her local Walmart and buy $200 in iTunes cards and using Walmart’s MoneyGram service wire funds to named “survey coordinators” in other cities. Of course, the entire enterprise was a scam, but fortunately, the Scamicide reader recognized the tell tale signs of the scam and did not fall for the scam.
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 Don’t rely on provisional credit which is given after a few days, but which will be rescinded once a check bounces and never accept a check for more than what is owed with the intention to send back the rest.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.
As we start the new year, if you are a subscriber to and get the Scam of the day directly to your email, I urge you to take a look at the newly redesigned and to also ask your help in spreading the word about so we can reach more people and help them from becoming victims of scams. To all of you, best wishes for a happy and scam-free new year.