I confess… I once was a mystery shopper. Decades ago, I shopped at stores to see what they were charging for certain products and visited restaurant chains to evaluate the food and service. I wrote up a report, sent it in, and received a check for my work. Nothing I could make a living from, but it helped fill the gas tank.
Back then, it didn’t occur to me that responding to a mystery or secret shopper ad could set me up for a scam. Now I know – if you’re looking to make extra money as a mystery shopper, it pays to do some homework to make sure the job is real.
The FTC’s second Spanish-language fotonovela is about scams that promise you can make money selling high-end products or brand-name merchandise. If the pitch sounds familiar, that’s because the story is based on facts from a recent FTC lawsuit against a company that targeted Spanish speakers nationwide. Income Scams tells the story of Fatima, a consumer who is looking for a way to earn some extra money.
The Federal Trade Commission works closely with legal services providers and consumer advocates to root out frauds affecting communities across the nation. Several of our partners have told us about an income scam that’s targeting Latino organizations -- even churches. Here’s how it works:
Attorney, Division of Consumer and Business Education, FTC
The FTC joins with other federal agencies to celebrate Hispanic heritage from Sept. 15 – Oct. 15 during our nation’s official Hispanic Heritage Month. But the FTC uses enforcement and education every day, all year long, as part of its mission to protect all consumers from unfair and deceptive practices in the marketplace, online and off. We use our enforcement authority to stop scams that target Spanish speakers, whether they involve fraudulent marketing practices, illegal debt collection practices, false advertising claims, or identity theft.
We deliver free information in Spanish on a wide range of consumer issues, in a variety of formats. Our resources in Spanish help Latino consumers recognize government imposters, protect their computers from malware and their personal information from phishing attempts, and avoid income scams.
You get an email from your boss’s boss requesting that you make a wire transfer to a new vendor. The email is marked urgent, so you ignore the 20 others that need your attention to take care of it. You handle wire transfers all the time, and you’ll definitely score points for responding so quickly, right? Maybe not.
In a recent scheme, sometimes called “masquerading,” a hacker poses as a senior executive and asks an employee to complete a financial transaction, like a confidential business investment or a payment to a vendor. Once money is wired to a bogus account, it can be nearly impossible to recover.
We’ve all probably seen ads online, on TV, and in newpapers: “Job placement – Guaranteed!” “Interview Today. Start Tomorrow.” When we’re out of work, an ad promising a job starts to look really good. But what happens if we follow through with a click or a call? Do we get that "guaranteed" job?
Claims you can “Make Big Money Working From Home!” can show up online, on utility poles in the neighborhood, even on your phone. Some promotions that sound promising are cover-ups for a con, like the sham payment processing business that took more than $5.4 million from people in less than a year. The FTC stopped the operation, and has reached a settlement with two individuals and six of the companies involved
The operators of a telemarketing scheme that allegedly took millions of dollars from people trying to start home-based businesses have agreed to settle charges brought by the FTC and the New York and Florida Attorneys General. As part of the settlement, the defendants are banned from selling business development services and work-at-home opportunities, and must surrender more than $15 million in assets.