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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

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?

The Bank will determine the Money Order is a fake.They will confiscate the fake.

Just received a USPS Money Order as well payable to me to mystery shop at Walmart and the accompanying letter advised me to cash out the check same as yourself, spend $50, write a report and then Western Union the balance remaining back to some other individual awaiting same in order to perform his own assignment. I went to the USPS Website and they have a link on their Money Order page to check the Serial Number of a received USPS Money Order for it's authenticity. Of course, when I did this I was advised that the serial number was invalid. In other words -- NO GOOD LOL they really thought I would fall for this crap???? First, the letter they send with the Money Order has no letterhead, no accurately structured sentences/paragraphs and the most unprofessional letter format I have ever witnessed. COME ON YOU CRIMINALS GET IT TOGEATHER WITH ALL THAT MONEY YOUR STEALING!!! PAY SOMEONE TO DRAFT YOU A COVER LETTER THAT APPEARS PROFESSIONAL OR AT LEAST POSSIBLY BELIEVABLE THAT IT WAS SENT FROM AN ACUTAL BUSINESS!

Secondly, I called this James Carr listed on the letter as the contact which rang and was answered by a recording asking me to state my name and then to please hold while they tried to reach the party I was calling (WHY THE NEED TO SCREEN YOUR CALLS JAMES CARR???), then when he answered he insisted I take it to my bank so that they could verify it. JAMES ARE YOU REALLY THINGING I AM SO STUPID NOT TO REALIZE THAT A MOST LIKELY A BANK WOULD NOT BE ABLE TO VERIFY THE MONEY ORDER IF USPS COULDN'T VERIFY IT AND THEY ARE THE DRAFTERS OF SAME!!! Of course he hung up on me then I received an email from MR. JAMES CARR.

Below is his email and my response FOR YOUR ENJOYMENT AND ENTERTAINMENT, HAPPY LAUGHING!!!

Hey a family member of mine was just scammed by this "James Carr" figure. I would appreciate if you'd be willing to cooperate with me on gathering information on this fool. Here is an email where you can reach me. . I'm mostly interested in seeing if he switches emails between victims or continues to use the same emails.

We don't publish personal information, like email addresses, on the blog. If you think you encountered a scammer, you can report it to the FTC at ftc.gov/complaint.

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.

Text them that the bank told you there check was a fake and they confiscated it and you were advised to give all the info you received with the check to the police I bet they stop contacting you. That's what I did.

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!

I got that same exact email just a different hiring manager, totally a scam. I have a friend that does mystery shopping and does ok for a little extra spending cash every few months. Too bad he won't share with me the company he works for. Too afraid I might get some of his work lol.

Are the Cashier Check's from the IFUC FACKE

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???..

id like to know how that worked out for you. i recieved postal money orders in the mail as well for 970.00. not gonna do anything with them.

I got a check in the mail for 5000 which is for mystery shopping I thought it was bogus so I took it to my bank manager and surprisingly it was a real check real account with founds available I was soooo tempted but my bank manager advised me not to deposit it yet until he investigate What do I do

If someone you don't know asks you to deposit a check and wire money back, it could be a scam. This FTC article tells you about mystery shopper scams.

In one scam, a criminal sends a check and tells you to deposit it in your account, then withdraw cash, and send it to someone with wire transfer or pre-paid card.

By law, a bank must let you have some funds from checks you deposit within a few days. It can take weeks to uncover a fake check. It may look like the check cleared and the money is in your account, but if the check is fake and you withdrew money, you have to repay the bank.

The company listed on the check is not the company scamming you. They are using real company names on counterfeit checks. It is not legit period! If they want you to buy giftcards and send them to info then it is a scam. Not only will their check bounce but your bank will probably charge you fees if it does bounce.

When I checked the routing number on the check it didn't even match the bank on the check. The bank was Farmers and Merchants Bank and the routing number matched Wells Fargo. I think this is why the bank is no catching it because the bank routing # belongs to a real bank. But I think the bank should take some fault also. They're being scamed also and their cashiers should see the routing numbers do not match the bank on the check. . If they would stand up and take some fault a lot of this would stop It was easy for me to check the routing number how much easier is it for the banks. Come on they never should have been allowed to be deposited if the banks were doing their job..

It isn't standard Teller procedure to check the routing number on checks to see if they match the bank. You'll find that most of the time the only Routing number tellers know off the top of their heads are their own.

So glad I read all of your posts. I filled out Mystery Shoppers form online. Seemed legit. I was sent two (2) identical cashier's checks for 2,852.00 by USPS Priority Mail at the same time. Red Flag! Destinations Credit Union was issuer and Alexander Hemming was the authorized signature. I was given similar instructions to purchase $500 money paks and keep $200 for my salary. I called phone number on letter and Asian man answered (which I could barely hear) and told Me to "cash one check and hold other one until further advised"). After hanging up he then text Me and asked "how long would it be before I went to bank". I was also instructed in letter to 'email updates daily'. Needless to say, I Am ripping up checks, but not before I try reporting this. I pray no one else gets burned from these SCAMS!!!! Don't be gullable...BEWARE!!!

I called Destinations Credit Union and they have a recorded message that states "If you have received a check from DCU via Mystery Shoppers, PLEASE DO NOT CASH check. We HAVE NOT issued any checks for that company". Listen up everyone, these checks are FRAUD and SCAMS all day!

I recieved a very real looking check for $2,760.00. Instructed to deposit it in my bank. Get cash next day and buy money cards (keep $200.00 for myself) and email the pins and how the people acted in the store. Above all keep it confidential! Sounded to good to be true. Glad I looked at the FTC and on here.

I responded to an "opportunity" and now, after receiving the check and depositing in bank, suspect it to be fraud. I have decided not to wire the money or participate any further, but the rep is insisting that I wire him the money tonight. It is Friday after 8PM and live 30 miles from the nearest town. I am telling him I will attend to this on Monday during regular business hours.
Wish I had done a little more research...actually put check in bank...hope it's no irrevocable damage has been done.

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