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Mystery shopper scam strikes again

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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

If someone you don't know sends you a check, and tells you to cash it and send them money right away, it's probably a scam. The check is probably a fake. A lot of puppy sellers, and 'mystery shopper' job scams use fake checks to rip people off.

A bank might cash it, but that doesn't prove that it's good. A bank can get fooled by a fake check. Eventually, the bank will find out the check is no good, and you'll have to repay all the money.

This FTC article about fake checks has more tips.

Received a cashiers check today. It's from a bank in Florida with the correct routing number but the bank Account number isn't even long enough. It's totally fraudulent. Scary thing is I know friends that have mystery shopped but it was legit, so when they emailed me I was excited but I double checked a few sites and found this post. Warning signs:
Broken English
Duplicate emails received.
Email address not traceable
Check is printed poorly
And bank numbers were not long enough ' I called the bank the routing number goes to and no such account found. BEWARE

I received a letter in the mail today that said that I was to evaluate the local Wal-Mart which through up flags cause there is like 10 Wal-Mart here where I am living so it was funny but than I saw there was a supposable a cashiers check included for 1397.30 which made no sense to me cause if I didn't work for it my mom said you are not entitled to money that nothing is free in life which I have grown up to say is true. So any ways I called the bank it was drawn on which was APPLE Federal Credit Union in Fairfax, VA and not to my astonishment it was guess no good BOGUS so I contacted the local police department and turned it all in to the police but I bet they wont find out who is doing this cause it just goes to a block or dead ends as always lets see how many more I get in the mail since I responded to the e-mail I bet a bunch will let you know but please listen to the voice in your head when your self tells you something is wrong than something is not right with the situation honestly

I received a check for 2850.00 I was to kep 550. And the email the rest to Ciara Corrbett out of Atlanta Ga. So what did I do I found her facebook page. It doesnt take much to find the. I also caled a gentalman and he said it was a scam and they used his business. Turning over tomorrow.

Just got an offer for 300 per service, just send them a resume. From Shelley Sandler, supposedley of Dog Harness Innovators, through Linked In so I would think it's a job offer. I replied that I am reporting them to the FTC.

Please report this to the FTC at ftc.gov/complaint so it goes into the database that investigators use.

Your blog comments don't go into the database.

My facebook account was hacked last week and my friends and family were asked to send $$ so I could return home from the Phillipines. I was supposedly robed at knife & gun point. I was at work and one of my friends showed me the posting. They tried to get $1800 from each person on my friends list, even my 14 yr old granddaughter. Here is where they wanted the $ sent to:
37 Edsa Cor. Boni Avenue
Mandaluyong Metro.
PLEASE CHANGE ALL YOUR PASSWORDS REGULARLY TO AVOID THE SAME PROBLEMS I HAD. My email account has also been hacked before.

I too received a check for 2875., I have to western union to another country. Please anyone who reads this, please beware.

I received in a USPS 3 day priory mail envelope, a check for $2,950.00 in which I was instructed to cash the check and go to Walmart's Money Gram and send $1,290.00 to a Daniel Guy Fatherree in San Francisco, CA and the same amount to a Preshauna Nicole Hooper in Stockton, CA. Mystery shopping I did some years ago, only paid about $25.00. Sounded great to be getting $300.00. However, what made me take a second look what a statement made in the form letter that said to let him know if there was not a Walmart or Money Gram place where I live. Really? They should know if there's one here. Right? Also, I had not applied for a mystery shoppers job. So there you go! The guy that signed the letter and gave his email and cell number's name is Jeff Burton. I have reported to all places I could. What they do with it, is not my problem. All I know, is, I did not email or text this guy so he doesn't have my number or email, than goodness! The old saying, if it's too good to be true, then it probably isn't, has some good standing!

well, after reading the posts on here, i guess i got off pretty lucky. I am not required to send ant money or card ibformation to anyone. i was shocked when the priority mail was opened and a check for $3,995.00 fell out. the instructions were, that i deposit check, thhen after funds have cleared, go to an Apple store and buy a ton of stuff, evaluate store, clerk, and merchandise. it never told me what i was to do with this stuff. the only thing that concerned me was that i first, only ever submitted a job seeking intent to career builders, no where else. second, i would lose my disability and medical coverage if i had that kind of money in my bank account. the three people i showed this crap to, smelled a scam from the start. I looked up the bank, navy federal credit union, and called them. the lady reported that the serial number of the check was not in their system, and so the check is bogus. the envelope and contents sit on my desk, waiting to find out where to send them.

Well..... anyone who would send a "cashier's check" for $2875.00 and than actually expect that $2600.00 be western union to them back in Turkey, may need to work on their scammer skills

Well they tried again. Very well organized with The Evaluation Forms and how to send monies. I thought it wasn't a scam until I read all the Blogs. Same identical situations. Be very cautious. Don't fall for it. The letter states not to do anything until monies clear bank. It could take weeks for that and they want their report after two weeks.

Ok so can anyone tell me if OFFICE CREATION SURVEY INC is a scam I have a letter with a check as well with a phone number text number and I also see how the check is suppose to be distributed. I have contacted the phone number and have talked to an actual person about it and they want me to do a job in my area for about 5 stores I haven't paid anything to these people at all they are paying me as a secret store evaluator I just want to know if this company or name is legit

Some scammers will send you a fake check and tell you to deposit it and then use the money for a 'job.' If you spend the money, and then the bank finds out the check is fake, you will have to repay the bank for everything you withdrew.

When you deposit a check, the bank gives you some money within a few days. That doesn't prove the check is good. It can take weeks for a bank to find out whether a check is good. If you withdraw money, and then the bank finds out the check is fake, you will have to repay the bank.

I received a check yesterday for $1485 and it had pnc bank written on it. It was delivered by ups.. not thinking I deposit it into my account last night, but it's the weekend so It won't clear until tomorrow, wondering what can I do from here to not get caught up in any mess

If you think the check is fraudulent, you could contact your bank, explain what happened, and ask about what to do.

The person who sent you the check may ask you to send money back. If you do that, and the check is fake, you will lose money. If you think you're dealing with a scam, please report it to the FTC at FTC.gov/complaint.

I recieved a gmail from a guy saying he found my resume. he asked if i wanted to do it and he said ill get the check tomorrow... idk if it's a scam or not because hes saying he wants me to deposit the check into my bank account and the funds will be available in 24 hours. how do i find out if its real or not. he said hes sending 400 for my evaluation and in total 2630 for the tasks including the 400

This could be a scam.

Some criminals recruit victims with job ads that seem like they’re for legitimate jobs, but are not. The scammer will ask for your bank account number, or tell you to open a new account, and then send you instructions about receiving and transferring money. Law enforcement calls the victims ’money mules.’ If you get involved with one of these schemes, you could lose money and personal information, and you could get into legal trouble.

You are responsible for the checks you deposit.  It can take days or even weeks for a bank to find out a check is fake. By law, the bank has to give you some money in a few days, but that doesn't prove the check is good. If you deposit a check that turns out to be fraudulent, the bank will expect you to repay any money you took out.

 

Got one as well. $2969.18 Deduct $350 and then buy $50 at Walmart and keep. Then money gram to some dude. (908)516-0514 I may play along since I have a 10 day clearing policy. It will go into a savings account and sit. After 10days, I'll then make the call. From Darrell Palin Off Northwest Ga bank 898 Battlrfield Pkwy Fort Oglethorpe, Ga. 30742 Can't wait to do a google Earth in that location. This will be fun.

I meet girl online an we talk off an on several weeks. I want to meet her she agreed. Got to get a gate pass 350.00 reason protect models run background check on me. I got email address an name an pic. How do check an know for sure.

When you meet someone online, you don't know who they really are. They can tell you any story. If you talk for a while, then they start asking for money, it's probably a scam.

Received 1 for $2300 - keep $300 and buy 4 gift cards $500 each at either BestBuy, Walmart and keep them for next assigment. Doesn't ask to send money to anyone...
Check came tracked with USPS tracking # and I received a bunch of emails with tracking updates... Also received an email from Rodney Arndt ("Amazon HR Manager") saying that the check had been receive so to start the assigment... Not sure if real or not...

I got the same thing. A cashier check to either deposit or cash. Keep $300. Buy 3 OneVanilla Cards at $500 each from with Walmart, CVS, Rite Aid, or 7Eleven. Take a picture of the cards front & back & email them, along with a report of: store details, checkout time, cashier's name and professionalism to retailsurvery@     . There is a phone # to text that I received the package, which was sent priority mail from Florida. Then, I am to keep the cards for the next assignment. Did you complete the assignment? Did it end up being a scam?

I went online looking for coupons and didn't know I would get a check for $1,800 to be a secret shopper, so I said something wrong, so I googled it and what do you know it's def a scam, I have a job I don't need a secret scan job... I'll be tearing it up... Void

Can I cash check at regular check cash then get money Oder ?

My girl friend got a check from Mystery Guest, Inc. for $2,500. Calling Huntington Bank I found out the certified check was fraudulent. Luckily she told me about it the day after she had deposited the check. Huntington said it would get returned NSF. One red flag was no phone calls... only texting to an OK cell phone for a company out of FL. Seriously??? Also FL company search turned up an inactive business under that name with no EIN/tax #.

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.

Nothing works on this site...besides it dosent even give your score....complete waste of time!!!!

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.

If you receive a check, make a photo copy of it. I guarantee you will find the word VOID all over it. Not only did I make nothing on that transaction, I was hit with a $12 returned check fee. Also take notice of the contact email address. A legitimate mystery shopper organization would not use a "gmail" domain. It would be a corporate domain name.

Any time you photocopy a check (yes, a legitimate check too) it's going to show up "VOID" that's a big part of check security features.

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 knew this was a scam,i told my wife this.i told the guy who call me on my phone im sending the checks back and his papre work

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.

I received a similar money order for 970 and was told to deposit it then take money out to do job then get my pay out of it then send the rest to another shopper in a moneygram or western union. I almost fell for it it seemed legitimate until I didn't have a checking account and I researched how to cash a money order with a banking account I was told to cash it at the post office but when I told the person who was suppose to be my supervisor or contact person he was adamant about me opening a bank account and was told to do it within 24hr then I after I figured it was a scam I did nothing that's when the text messages for me to hurry up and do the assignment and send the reports with the mtcn number from the Money Gram. I sent them a text saying that the bank said it was a fake money order and they kepted it and was going to give it to the police and wanted to know how I got it and all the information I was giving and wouldn't you know the information I received on who to send the money to was no where to be found the number and email was no longer available. I was so lucky because I fell for it line hook and sinker.

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!

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