Mystery shopper scam strikes again

picture of shopping bagsIt sounds pretty good: you walk into a store like any other customer. Then 20 minutes later, you’re done, ready to write a report that will earn you $50. And then you can do it again.

If Shopper Systems and some companies like it were to be believed, mystery shopping jobs like this were not only widely available, but could generate “insane profit.” All for just $2.95 for training and a week’s trial, then $49.95 a month after that for an up-to-date list of interested retailers — and you’d be free to cancel any time.

But they couldn’t be believed, the FTC says. According to the FTC’s complaint, people who paid to be mystery shoppers found there were few, if any, jobs in their area. And the jobs that did exist paid a lot less than $50. People who tried to cancel found they were still charged $49.95 a month, not knowing they were also enrolled in a second “opportunity” running their own webstore.

The companies and people behind the alleged scam have agreed to settlements with the FTC that ban them from selling business or work-at-home opportunities and require them to surrender assets to the FTC.

Legitimate mystery shopping opportunities are out there, but so are plenty of scams. Don’t pay to be a mystery shopper — information about mystery shopping jobs should be free, and certifications offered are often of little value. Many professionals in the field consider mystery shopping a part-time activity, at best, and opportunities generally are posted online by marketing research or merchandising companies.

Want to learn more about these kinds of scams and get tips on finding legitimate mystery shopping jobs? Read Mystery Shopper Scams at ftc.gov/bizopps.

Blog Topics: 
Jobs & Making Money

Comments

yes, so many scam in there

I just received a check for 3900.00 I will be paid 250.00 with a bonus of 100.00 of I complete the task within 24 hours. I have to buy 7 vanilla reload cards with each amount at 500.00 so that is $3500.00. The check looks legit from TD Bank these scammers are getting good. The company overnighted a FEDEX from Bert Ogen Motor Company Inc. in San Jose Ca.
Beware!!! these guys are good everything looks legit but there is no phone number and the email is a gmail account where I email the pin numbers are you kidding me?

I got a similar check. I just tore up the check and trashed it.

Need credit report

Get your free credit report at www.annualcreditreport.com. By federal law, you are entitled to one free copy of your credit report once a year from each of the three nationwide credit reporting bureaus. Watch this FTC video to learn more.

Shoppers should always check with the MSPA for legitimate and credible mystery shopping companies. And, Jancyn is one of them!

This is not correct. Most companies needing this service hire investigative firms which are not required to be registered as "mystery shopping" companies.

Wow to many scams

Just received a check?? for $1986.35 from Amazon International, Inc. It was mailed from Spain, but has no forwarding address. Be careful out there!

Just got one today regarding "mystery shopping for Walmart. I notified Walmart, and they completely disassociated themselves with this scam business.

I became suspicious when the "sentences" were kind of "foreign" written. The words did not make sense in a sentence.

Just received a check for $2,473 from Nboqpx f s p.o.box 39309; Louisville,KY 40233-9309..P.O.C. has a Huntington Park;CA. area code(323)..My "payment" is to be $300; and gee; they want me to purchase a $50 cashiers check and two(2) separate $1,000 Money paks..oh yes;they want me to hurry because the $$ from the money paks is for an unnamed charity...Hmmm; why do I sense a scam...

Retail Solutions Inc sent a check over $1000.00 and I would be paid $225.00 to shop Walmart and Home Depot. Deposit check now and call. Not! I reported. Please do not fall for something like this.

I just got a similar letter. I'm trying to search for information on the company, but this is the only thing that came up.

Received a check from America Survey Insurance Co, Inc for $1992.50. Envelope has stamps from Spain. I researched the addresses, names, and phone numbers and none of them match anything on the letter. It's a scam.

Received a 3880.00 check for a mystery shop from a Eng Survey, Po Box in Little Rock Arkansas. They want me to call one of their agents before I deposit the check. Then They list several businesses they want me to visit to do an evaluation of the employees customer service. Of course, they go on to say part of my assignment is to purchase a GreenDot Reload Pack and/or NetSpend and Vanilla Reload pack. Out side of envelope paid 1st class postage from Bank of America and return addy is Po Box Wilmington, Delaware. Boy, they are getting good because the check looks super authentic. Thing is I work for a couple secret shopper companies and they never solicit shoppers.

I just received a 'cashiers check in the amount of $1786.00 the scammer sent instructions along with the check to deposit it into my bank, wait one business day, cash it out, buy an item at wal-mart, then purchase 3 $500 top of money cards. I scratch the cards and send the PINs to the email address that was enclosed with the instructions..I get to keep the rest..$200 for myself...this is a scam..the check is a fake and when the bank figures out its counterfeit its too late..beware

I too received a cashiers check for 2200.00 with similar instructions only I was to buy 4 $500 money pak cash top or cash refill cards.
Mail just came I got 2 more of the same assignments. Beware!

Hello, reading all of your comments, I'm glad that you guys share your stories for others to be protected. My mother, however, was recently a victim. She received the 'cashiers check' for almost $1800.00 and they wanted her to deposit it in her bank, cash it and buy the money cards. Then after that, wanted her to send the pins to the email address...she did it...and now she is out $1800.00. I just want to know if anyone out there knows of ways that she can get her money back on it? Money is tight for her right now as it is and this really set her back. I am furiated at the situation myself and that people out there take advantage of others, especially a disabled vet. If anyone does have information on how she would be able to get her money back, please let me know. Thank you.

Im sorry to hear same thing happen to me but didnt have checking account so I opened up account. I would have to wait 5 days to clear so I took them. Check cashing place. They called them in and found they were fake. They were confiscated. Called back to bank to tell teller were fake. I asked what would have happen if I waited for money orders to clear. He said bank would have charged me because they would have thought I was the scammer. I hope she is blessed in future.

Thanks guys just got a check for 1265.00..to be used for 1000. On green dot and 60. at Home Depot and the rest for myself ...lol.

I got the same thing. I called and faxed the number listed on the memo and it was temporarily disable.

We keep an eye on these scams and we just had a reader send over a link from a company called "Sights on Service." They tried to mail her a fake cashier's check for $1,950 for a Wal-mart mystery shop. And then, of course, they wanted her to send back $1,550. Ah! Be careful, everyone!

Thanks you guys!!! You just saved a college student from adding $1500 to her debts! I received a check of $1,980. I was instructed to keep $430, buy $30 items from Walmart, and 3 vanilla reload cards ( and mail the PIN numbers). I'm so glad I put in this effort to research it.

Guess the ante is moving up, I just got a cashier check in the amount of 2354.15 deposit wait a day cash out and then spend 50 at walmart and than money paks and send the pins. Check is from a legit bank Fifth Third Bank...even came Fed Ex Priority Mail.

I got the same letter in the mail with a check for $2,387...same story..will file this with my other scam letters and offers.
Too good to be true is too good to be true.

what about the walmat (sic) wholesales mart corp? friend told me about $2000 check sent to be deposited, instructed to take out their $300, and get further instructions on the secret shopping details. sounds like a scam (the web addressdid not materialize on the computer, and the phone number gives a message of "cannot accept calls due to high volume of incoming calls". anybody heard of this one?

This sounds like a fake check scam. Read the article Fake Checks for advice on how to recognize a fake check scam.

I got a check for about 2000 and wanted me to do the same and send the rest back to someone in Istanbul....Then I check where it all came from. The originwas a t shirt company in ohio and also the bank....What do people do to get these people to stop? Where do I send the scam info into?

Just received this scam email:

Do you shop at Walmart?
Do you know that you can shop at Walmart and get paid for that.
And even better, keep all the products you purchased.

We are hiring today and we need you in our team.
WalmartShopper is needing people just like you to inspect our employees and to offer better services to our clients.
If we got your attention, Apply Here

You will be contacted shortly to validate your position.

And remember, you dont need experience or qualification, just an honest opinion.

If link doesnt work or email reaches Spam Folder, mark this email as Inbox.

I got the same exact e-mail today. I knew it was a scam but googled it anyway, and found this site.

I just got a "Official Check" on Citibank. The letter says I will be paid $220.00 and that I need to deposit the check in the next 24hrs. Then go to CVS and buy a Greendot Pak. Go to Home Depot spend $60.00. Call Anthony Landers. The English sucks. It makes no sense when you read the letter. Do NOT do this. If the check is bad, you're the one out the money. Why are they sending a letter with a UK postal stamp, but a New York address on the letter? Very fishy.

I got the same letter. I called the number and it was
temporary disable and the fax number was not working.
Somebody need to investigate this scam asap!

We also got a check in the mail for $2400 and were asked to put it in the bank, legit bank, legit company name, leave it for 24 hours, take the cash out, go to Walmart buy $50 and then buy 5 Greendot Pak cards and send back infor. The letter read very well, and looked totally professional. It came Fed Ex. My husband did as they were told and lo and behold the check came back, now we owe the bank $2400. I told him not to do it, not to fall for it but he totally thought it was legit. I'm just writing to help someone else out, hope nobody else falls for this crap. It's totally got me furious and if you ever saw furious, it would be my husband. He has filed with the US Postal Service, and Fed Ex, it IS mail fraud. He has made a police report and is filing other things with the state where issued. If you have fallen for this don't sit and do nothing, we need to catch these crooks.

I got scam with a memo and a check to be a mystery shopper for CVS and Home Depot.

I just received a USPS money order to do similar assignments listed above but I don't have to deposit it, I can just cash out. Do you think this is scam too?

I received a check today. I had an email address for the company. I contacted the address asking for more information and a contact person to rule out a scam. I then called the bank whose check this was supposed to be. They asked if it was a cashiers check and who signed it. Mine was signed" Nancy Davis". Upon hearing just that, I was informed that the check was a fake. Saved $970.00with a call.
These people are the lowest form of humanity.

Just got scammed by Walmart secret shopper. Bank was on B of A found out that the check did not come from them. Hope no one will get scammed by this.

I got one for $580. I'm to keep $100 and shop Starbucks using max $20 Then I'm supposed to buy a number of green dot prepaid cards for $450 denominations, and send them the pins along with my evaluation of that buying experience!
It is so convincing! I will be reporting this.

I spoke w/ a walmart supervisor Android when I gave them the supervisor greg clark name,email address they said iron has nothing to do w/ them because little a scam. They also said for me not to cash the check because little fake & to ignore this offer

Even though I am not responding to the Fake Mystery Shopping, they are still texting me and emailing me, wanting their phones checks! They are bold! I am holding onto 3 fake USPS Money Orders @$975 each and a fake cashiers check for $1700. They are not out money that wasn't there in the first place, and I have not lost my money to their scams!

I received two usps money orders for$ 975.00.!12/16/14
Brought them to postoffice and they said they looked real.Probably stolen.Sent from New York
but the money orders came from a post office in Chicago.Looking for 4 money cards and keep 250.00 for expenses.

I just received a check, too, for $1,750.82, but there were no instructions. It was just a check in a 2-Day Priority Mail envelope. The label on the envelope has a return address of John Fisher. I answered an email ad for Walmart Secret Shopper because I thought I remembered hearing something on the news that Walmart was going to be doing that for this holiday season. I believe this is a scam.

Hey if you gave your ssn and drivers licence number what can you do to prevent fraud from these scammers

I too received an email about being a Walmart secret shopper, so I sent in the application. After sending, I did some research and found websites like this describing the scam, so I forwarded the emails to walmart, so that they could be aware of what is going on. Then yesterday, I received an overnight Fed-Ex envelope with a return address in NY, that contained a check for $1990 from a company in Virginia and through a Bank of America account. I called the company in Virginia today (NVR) and asked about the check. They stated that this was a scam that they have been roped into. Beware!!

I just got one for $2,755.00. They want 5 $500 Money Pak cards, and I get $230. I think I'm going to contact the news so they can put it out there for others to see.

Beware of SUNWOOD VENTURES, LLC. COMPANY in San Diego, CA
Sent me a check for $1,993.00 for 4 Money Pak Top Up cards. Buy in the amounts of $500 and $100 keep $260 and $100 bonus if done within 24 hours of receiving priority mail package. Email or text PINS. The man's name is David Jamison and his cell is 760-609-4154. Its a SCAM!

I recieved a check $1,988 dollars it was a postal money order so i took it to the post office to see if i could cash it out and the clerk informed me that it was fake and confiscated it. The instructions were for me to keep 20 percent of the check and send the rest back via western union/money gram. I was not going to fall for this scam. The sender of the check emailed me and told me if i dont send back the money they would report me to my local police. I did not send back any money and have reported them to the federal trade commision. These folks want your money so be very careful and block unwanted emails/calls.

What company was this

I just received a check for $1950 from someone who said it was a mystery shopping job but the company name on the check is earth care solar technologies it came via ups and the return address says 6096 Candice ln. Lake Charles la. 70615 and the bank account is in the same town but the last email said to go to Walmart and get 2 green dot moneypack cards for $775 each and forward the pins to them and I could keel $400. Way to much has to be a scam but almost had me fooled.

Got a check of $ 1990.00, asked to go to my bank and deposit, withdraw after 24 hours, deduck $ 450, my commission. Instructed to deduct $15.00 and purchase any product from walmart. Buy 3 moneypack reload cards, carefully scratch the cards and send PIN numbers to : Kenny Johnson and to text only 281-810-6247.

SCAM SCAM AND SCAM
Thank GOD I read before falling

I recently purchased a home that was empty for a few years. Someone was using my address for these scams. I received return to sender envelopes and discovered at least 4 of these green dot scam checks. I have legitimate home business and do not want address used for fraud. Who do I report this to?

just got this email:
You have been selected to complete a survey that is dedicated to help increase customer satisfaction, boost sales performance and build staff competence, resulting in increased profitability. Your response is important and will help us to better understand the frequency and extent of customer satisfaction, perceptions and the problems related to services rendered.

Our company conducts surveys and evaluates other companies at their request. This is to better assist them in meeting their customers needs and satisfaction.We are looking for Agents around the country for observational evaluation surveys.

Your starting wage is $200 per assignment. Being a Survey Agent (Secret Shopper) can truly be fun as well as rewarding. If you like shopping, testing new products, and dealing with customer service associates, you'll love being a Survey Agent. And get paid $200 Cash for each assignment!!

PAYMENT TERMS:
When an assignment is given to you, You would be provided with details to execute the assignment within a timely fashion (usually 24 hours). Your payment would be sent in advance ($200) for each assignment, also the company provides you with all expense money for the assignment, survey, shopping or any other expenses incurred during the course of your task. All the necessary tools and information you will be needing would be provided to you in detail as each task is assigned.

JOB DESCRIPTION :
Have reliable transportation. Be able to visit a Company, Store, Western Union outlet, Food Chain, Grocery store etc. Simply shop with them to learn about their sales, customer service, cost or any other details as provided by the company per your instructions. Report back to us with details of your experience at that business, it‘s as simple as that. Remember, you keep whatever you buy!!!

IF INTERESTED KINDLY REPLY WITH THE INFORMATION BELOW:

Full Name :
Physical Address :
Country,City & State:
Zip code :
Home and Cell # :
Present Occupation:
Are you 18 years or older: (Y) (N)

Best regards,
victoria brianna
Hiring Manager.
Mystery Shoppers Inc©
@All Rights Reserved
Scam!

Probably. Dishonest promoters use websites and email to get you to think you’re signing up for a mystery shopping job but then it turns out you have to pay a fee.  Or you have to deposit a check and wire them money. Don't do it. Find out more about mystery shopping scams here.

I received an email response for a job i applied for on a online job board. I got the job and even spoke to someone on the phone. They sent me a check but haven't asked for any of it to be returned to them. I don't have to buy any moneypak or western union anything. Is this a scam also?

I JUST RECEIVED 2 POSTAL MONEY ORDERS IN THE AMOUNT OF $925.00 A PIECE TODAY 12/15/2014 I DEPOSITED THEM INTO MY CHECKING ACCT I ONLY HAD 7 CENT IN IT SO THEY CAN'T GET ANY OF MY MONEY! BUT IF IT'S A REAL MYSTERY SHOPPING COMPANY THEN HOW CAN I BE SURE IF IT'S LEGITIMATE OR NOT???..

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