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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

Blog Topics: 
Jobs & Making Money


I have received the same thing i deposited mines but after I got home I did my research and realized it was scam they are still emailing me but I'm not responding I went back to the bank the next day and explained the situation to them and they put notes on my account but I suggest you don't wire the money to them because you would have to pay the bank back

Just received check for $2,875 and was told to go to any MONEYGRAM store, send two checks of $1,250 to two different people in the Philippines. Now that's $2,500, they said for me to keep $300, now what do I do with the other $75? RED FLAG! I texted the number and asked for a Federal Tax ID number for my taxes and the response was "This is real not lie", exactly as I wrote it here. Something definitely not Kosher.

Omg I just got a first class mail with two checks wrote to me at $970. I'm suppose to deposit and the go wire the money to a Western Union Bank and evaluate the bank. I then keep $200 for being a secret shopper. After I would critique the bank on their customer service. I'm about to rip the checks.

You can file a complaint about a mystery shopping scam with The Federal Trade Commission and your state Attorney General. This article has more about mystery shopper scams.

I received $2185 check with no instructions... nothing. Just a check. So I googled and of course I found info on scams everywhere. Exactly a week later I get a text message asking about the check.. telling me to wire most of the money to Istanbul. And also shop at walmart. The name of the texter... taylor Ingersoll. I told him I would wire the money tomorrow lol. I figure he.frustrated me so much with this fake check, im gonna frustrate him back.

Got an email thru Facebook from a friend I have not talked to in 5 years. Said they had been doing Secret Shopper for almost a year and they were looking for more people. Just had to send my full name, address, cell phone and email address and would be contacted. Two weeks later received a priority mail with a single page of instructions and a Cashiers Check for $2315.08. Got a text confirming I received the pkg. Instructions were to buy 4 RELOADIT cards for $500 each and send them the cards/Pins and the rest was my commission. I boought the cards, emailed them the info, got home went on the internet searching for scams, went to RELOADIT online and created an account and tranfered all the money to the accounts off the cards. What a bonehead. Didn;t lose any money just time but i am sure they are very successful with this.

I just received a cashiers check for $2,310.00. Called the Wescon credit Union and verified that it is a bogus check. It was for a mystery shopper for Moneygram stores. Be aware that the name on the check was RE:Jesse Merchant made payable to me. How do I stop these bogus checks, I get them all the time and just shred them.

The FTC wants you to know that counterfeit check scams are on the rise. Some fake checks look so real that bank tellers are reporting being fooled. The scammers use high quality printers and scanners to make the checks look real. Some of the checks contain authentic-looking watermarks. These counterfeit checks are printed with the names and addresses of legitimate financial institutions. And even though the bank and account and routing numbers listed on a counterfeit check may be real, the check still can be a fake. These fakes come in many forms, from cashier’s checks and money orders to corporate and personal checks. Could you be a victim? Not if you know how to recognize and report them.

I got a letter and Cashier's check from a company called OoclInc to go do a customer survey at Moneygram. It feels like SCAM written all over it. How's the best way to confirm if a cashier's check is fraudulent?

Read about mystery shopper scams.

Sometimes scammers “hire” people to be mystery shoppers, and tell them to evaluate a money transfer service, like Western Union or MoneyGram. You get a check, and they tell you to deposit it in your bank account, then withdraw cash, and wire it to a third party.

When you deposit a check, the law says a bank has to make the funds from the check available in a few days. But, it can take weeks for the bank to discover the check is fake. When the check turns out to be a fake, you have to repay the money to the bank.

They are still at it. Rec. this morning in the mail, checks and instructions. Will give to Postmaster today when I go to town. I didn't do a thing and this showed up in the mail what the hell is going on?

Just received check a check from walmart, inc bentonville, AR for for $1992.10 cut under Wachovia Bank, NA Charlotte, NC with bogus routing number and wachovia is now known as wells fargo. Address on envelope is from Spain. Website has no trusted symbol and no copyright date. with different types of surveys to do and report and you have to activate check thru website. The telephone numbers are not legit (501)667-5168 and (501)667-5240. Really if the people can be this creative at this they need to be more creative at finding a job.!!

There is a new one running around, get paid for just reading the news, you could earn up to $1,400.00 a week. All you need to do is give your Paypal account number. Really? I thought you only need an email to deposit money in my Paypal account. Totally a scam.

June 10 2015, I was scammed by "P&O Research Company". I was sent a check for $2,853. I deposit the check and remarkable it "cleared" meaning the money is good to use. Well I did and withdrew the money thinking I was using there money to wire to Chicago Illinois. One day later my bank tells me the Check is no good and they charge me the money I withdrew. I called my bank and they said they hadn't really checked the validity of the check but thought it was good. Now I'm in the hole more than $2000 dollars. The check was remitted by Michelle Jess and I'd been texting with Alexander Hemming. It sounded so legit. Please beware of scams like this, and for crying out loud don't trust your personal bank. The amounts you see in your account are probably not accurate. I bank with Bank of America and they really stink. Bank else where do not trust what they post!

Under federal law, a bank generally must make funds available to you from a cashier’s check, certified check or teller’s check one business day after you deposit the check. For other checks, a bank must make the first $200 available the day after you deposit the check, and the rest of the money must be available on the second business day after the deposit.

But just because funds are available on a check you’ve deposited doesn’t mean the check is good.

It can take weeks to discover a check was a forgery. Until the bank confirms that the funds from the check have been deposited into your account, you are responsible for any funds you withdraw against that check.

If the check turns out to be a fake, you have to repay the bank any money you withdrew against the check.

The exact thing just happened to me. Same company P&O Research Company, this Alexander Hemming person. I was sent a cashier's check for $2,970. Deposit check, make cash available within 24 hours. Withraw $2,660, deposit to BofA. My bank found check to be forgery after 5 days or so. I am out/loss $2,660. No one wants to help me (law enforcement, bank, ect....). I don't know what else to do. I am composing my compaint with FTC, will be filing soon. At this point I don't have any ope that I will get my money back. I am such a fool to fall for this. What ever happened to your cass?

I Received a check from the Webster Bank out of CT. I actually called the bank to verify the funds,they sent me to an automated teller. I entered the check # and it cleared!The person who sent the check actually put his number and name on the letter it came with,I called him back he told me just to deposit it and get the cash back,I told him I wanted his banks phone number to verify funds that was two days ago!By the way it gave instructions on cashing this $2845.00 check them sending the majority of it to someone (money gram transfer)in the name of Mary Camp What caught my eye was he sent me a check from Connecticut and resides in San Francisco Besides the fact that assumed it was a scam.


NOTE: They will not ask you for any of your personal information but will ask you to use a PayPal account for YOUR PROTECTION to complete secret shopper surveys. They will deposit or mail a cashiers' check for purchases which seem legitimate until the cashier's check is returned altered 2-3 days after is has cleared. You, as the consumer will then be left to deal with an overdraft with your linked bank account. These people are criminals and have made this their means of income. Please pass this message to everyone you know so that they are made aware of this SCAM... Thank you!

I just got a check for $3950 - a CASHIER'S check. I was supposed to send $1750 to two people etc.
Keeping $250 after also spending $50 as a "mystery shopper" at CVS with the remaining spent on money grams. Of course I KNEW it was a scam but decided to have a banker look at it - he verified this...

The way it works is you are told to deposit in your bank account or open a new one. The funds will be "available" in 24 hours. They offer you $100 as a bonus (in your NEXT check) if you send the money out and do the other things 24 hours after the money is "available".

Then the bank will discover it's bogus canceling the "available" money and you will be on the hook for the money you were STOOPID enough to send or spend!

MARK HOBBIT was the "remitter" and it was signed by someone else, however. He even answered the phone and responded with/to texts! I was STOOPID enough to barely HOPE the check was 4real after he responded!

The banker assured me it was a scam.

I am keeping the check for display fun!

So... Why do YOU have to send money to someone else since they sent a check to you?

And... Why can't they just send you the money via Paypal?

That logic should tip you off.

I got 2 hi-value money orders in a similar rip-off but CHECKED before doing something like cash a bogus instrument like that!

If it's too good to be true...!

I received a cashier's check for $1285.00 Was asked to deposit and contact Anthony Brown. Then go to CVS and purchase a Nets pend prepaid card for $1000 bucks.go to Homedepot and spend $60 and all purchases at this location are mine to keep.I could keep $225 for myself. This is pitiful!!!Get a real job, probably wouldnot have to work as hard!!!

I just received a check today in the amount of $2,853. At first I got excited and thought it didn't make any sense for me to only keep $200 worth of this check and send the majority of it to two other people. So of course I called the bank that was on the check and gave them the information and they confirmed that it was a fraudulent check. And it was sent to me to be a secret shopper with the name Alexander Hemming...I googled that name also and it turns out that he's an illustrator or director in Brooklyn, NY. Although I'm pretty sure he knows nothing about this. And you can say I'm pretty pissed about this too.

I just rec. an offer from "Bannest Inc. Regional Electronic", has anyone heard anything bad?? It's a Mystery Shop job..

Received a check today for $1,976.00 drawn on United Credit Union. The request asked me to shop at Wal-Mart spending $50.00 on whatever I wanted. Transfer $1,676.00 to a Joseph Griffin and then email the information to several email addresses (transfer reference, etc) and I would keep $250.00 for sending in a report about my experience. Thanks for sharing all of your stories about this type of scam.

Please report this to the FTC at The information you give will go into a database that law enforcement uses for investigations. You can also contact the wire transfer service and explain what names and addresses the request used.

received a postal order check for 988. letter received states that this is a surprise, to check my e-mail for info sent out.gave direction as my assignment to contact wal=mart and money gram. need to cash/deposit into my account. my payment is $150 for surveys during my shopping task, purchase items to be kept. To use Moneygram service to send balance to another shopper agent. there is deduction of 213. and transfrer the balane of 775 to another agent through moneygrand transfer. I took check to mpostal office and they kept check with letter I received. They indicate that this was a scam

I was actually dumb enough to deposit the money into my account then it told me I had an available balance of $200 (I had no money in it at the time) but it told me I will get the $1700 ($1900 in total) in about a week. I told my bf it was a scam but he said the check looks legit and since the money went through the it was legit. Well I told him to go check in the morning and it said my card wasn't active. I called my bank and they told me it was permentaly blocked because of suspicious activity so I started searching it up and as it turns out it's a scam! :( I was freaking out so I called my bank and they had no idea! So I told them that it was a fraud check I hadn't taken out any money but I really wanted to let them know! And I'm still freaking out. I'm going to report it Monday! Since most places only are open Monday to Friday i don't know where to report it. What do you think is going to happen?

You can report to the FTC at The information you give will go into a database that law enforcement uses for investigations.  You can give details such as who sent the check and what they offered. You can also report to your state and local consumer protection agencies.

If the check is fraudulent, you can't use any of the money. If you already withdrew money, you'll have to pay the bank back. The bank may close your account.

I just deposited the whole check in my account i havent wasted anything though. Well i get in trouble for that???

So I reviewed a check from this place call area mart promoters. The check was like 1,000 bucks and I keep 350 dollars and I have to have a real bank account to activate it but it says nothing about wiring any money. The check has the watermark and every thing. Is that company legit? Is the check real? Can I just cash it at a check cashing place since it has the watermarks ?

Even if a check looks right to you, that doesn't mean it's legitimate. It could be a stolen check. It could be a fake check created by a scammer.

If you got a check from someone you don't know, and they want to use your bank account for their purposes, don't do it.

The scammer might ask you to deposit the check and then ask for your bank account number. He can remove money himself if you reveal your bank account number. And then he'll have your account number.

If you deposit a fake check, the bank will contact you when there's a problem with the check.

Friend just got scammed out of 3K. They used the name Johan Sanders, PH.D. Out of Customer Thermometer Inc. the friend was given "assignment" to purchase 3 iPhones and overnight them to a Texas address. The friend is on the East Coast and will report to FTC. Cashiers Check drawn on Wells Fargo. Friend was told the "funds were good by Wells Fargo" prior to buying the iPhones. This scam- has now morphed to phones- unregistered Apple I phones with specified amounts of money and time on them. This looks more elevated; concerned about not only low level criminals- but terrorism. If you fall for this- call Apple and alert them as well as the FTC. FBI says they can't help unless it's o ER 10k. The issue is the phones are under the friends name. Alert APPLE and give them the serial numbers ASAP.

Some scammers ask their victims to buy cell phones using the victims' name and identity, and then send the phones to the scammer. The scammer pays the victim and reminds him to cancel the contracts in the allotted time — usually 15 to 30 days. The scammer takes the phones, unlocks them and sells them for profit. This is called credit muling.

When the victim tries to cancel the contracts, he finds out he can't cancel the contracts unless he returns the phones (which the scammer took). The victim has to pay for the phones and service contracts; if he doesn't, the accounts can go to collection and hurt his credit rating. Negative credit can affect your ability to get credit, insurance, a job and even a place to live.

I received a check today that was suppose to be from Walmart. The check was from a company called and the amount was $1,998.10. It was for a mystery shopper assignment and I was to keep $350.00 of it and complete assignment number 1 within 24 hours after withdrawing the funds from my account which they claimed would be available in 12-24 hours. I went as far as calling the bank to verify the account and it did say that it was active, however, that did not guarantee payment of the check. In times like these, I think that it is wrong to take advantage of people causing them to commit crimes. Shameless

Just got scammed out of $400 by' Mark Kaufman' who emailed me and texted me, how can they feel good about themselves? My husband is in school full time and we have a baby, attached to hefty medical bills. I was just trying to take care of my family and now we don't get to visit family for the holidays.

So I got a Mystery Shopper "Job" I was sent 2,250 to cash but if the bank wouldn't let me cash it I was suppose to deposit it SO of course being excited about the money an not thinking about it I deposited it. Keep in mind I had no idea that a check could bounce after the money was taken out!! 30 was to be spent at Walmart on any electronic item 200 for me an 2,050 to be wired to a Susan Esther Tyler in the Philippines, 1,000 from money gram and the other 1,000 from western union. This all from a Harvey Specter. I feel so dumb. I was about to wire it today til I saw on the Moneygram form it telling you to watch out for Mystery Shopper scams an my stomach dropped and I realized how stupid I was being. The e-mails and texts where written in broken English an there was not even a company name. I'm such a fool an I'm hoping I can go to my bank tomorrow an give them the money back an tell them what happened. Money is the root of all evil people.

I just got a check for $2,320 sent to me via USPS Priority Mail for me to deposit and take $300 commission. SCAM!!!!!!! I called the bank it was drawn on and it is not one of theirs. BEWARE

I just got a check in the mail with a priority mail slip the check was drawn off capital one Bank in eastern parkway. I'm not sure if it is real or not the check is for 1,870

I received my check today via Priority US Mail. $3700. I'm to deposit it and within a couple days, withdrawal $1600 two times and send each one to a different Western Union; one in the Phillippenes and the other to England somewhere.
I actually researched this before giving them my address from an email I received a month or so ago. That email was from secret.shopper98665 and the contact was markpowler20
I found a good amount of info both ways: some are legit, some aren't. Never pay for a service and don't accept a check wherein you have to w/d money and send it back. If either of those things happen, it's definitely a scam.
Part of me wishes I could afford to have some fun. Deposit the check and wait a couple weeks. But the reality is I don't want to incur bank fees for a bounced check, and more importantly, I don't want to be involved with people like this. Who knows what they're capable of since they obviously know who I am and where I live.
I also have very little confidence - especially after reading some other posts here - that law enforcement cares on any level. It's sad because so many people need to have a second job just to get by and that's exactly who these scams prey on: people that are desperate for a couple extra bucks. At some point, the most vulnerable people in our society will be fed up with being jerked around by scammers, the law, politicians, big business, Wall Street and everything else that cares little that lives get destroyed, often because victims aren't educated on how to deal with or identify a scam. That's exactly why someone like Trump is doing so well: people are sick of getting rolled by tricks like this scam. And they're sick of nobody caring to do anything about it. I personally don't think he's a good fit for President. But I certainly understand the rage that drives his supporters.

I received check for 1980.00 and to send 875. To Two different people. My contact was Adam Watson.

Just got one today to deposit a Cashiers check. Why wouldn't you just cash it? I guess you have to have a account at the bank to do this. The letter says to take $250 for services and send the rest to a guy in China. Would you try and cash this??

Sounds like a scam. Read on...

Under federal law, a bank generally must make funds available to you from a cashier’s check, certified check or teller’s check one business day after you deposit the check. For other checks, a bank must make the first $200 available the day after you deposit the check, and the rest of the money must be available on the second business day after the deposit.

But just because funds are available on a check you’ve deposited doesn’t mean the check is good.

It can take weeks to discover a check was a forgery. Until the bank confirms that the funds from the check have been deposited into your account, you are responsible for any funds you withdraw against that check.

If the check turns out to be a fake, you have to repay the bank any money you withdrew against the check.

I just got email from cause international Signed by Best Regards, Rebecca Jackson. CIS International ™ 8059 Magnolia St, Fountain Valley, CA 92708 CIS International™ Copyright 2015 Wants to pay me $300. To do mystery shopper at Walmart and Sam's Club.

Please report this to the FTC at so the details go into the database that law enforcement uses for investigations.

Blog comments don't go into the database.

I just received a postal money order from the same person/same address at CIS International. Did they send you a money order or a check? Have you proceeded with the assignment or did you report them as scam? If you followed through with the assignment, did it work out, that is, was it legitimate?

Got a check yesterday for $3786.50 from Fidelity Brokerage Services LLC, under BNY Mellow Trust of Delaware. I'm supposed to buy six $500.00 Vanilla Cards. I knew it was a scam but this page helped to removed any doubts about it

This guy named Daniel Whales text me about Mystery Shopper opportunity. He is FedExing me a check for $2850. Im supposed to keep $250, Send $50 at WALMART and then go to MONEY GRAM. He instructed me to Deposit the check in my Acct, and email him a copy of the back receipt for record keeping purposes. One thing that is odd... there were no instruction of who to send the MONEY GRAM too... I am supposed to evaluate MONEY GRAM?? I asked him who and where i was supposed to be sending it and he said "you are not sending it to anyone." Soooo what i keep the extra $2550?
Total scam. Im turning the check over to the fraud department at my back including a copy of the email, IP Addresses, and the Fedex tracking info.

Retail secret shopper Sent a check for me to deposit I trashed it.scam

I received a check today for $2875 and was told to deposit in bank and keep $300 when check clear and send the rest to Japan i went and deposited in my account but it has a hold but the bank gave me $200 until the check clear so what do i do now

Under federal law, a bank generally must make funds available to you from a cashier’s check, certified check or teller’s check one business day after you deposit the check. For other checks, a bank must make the first $200 available the day after you deposit the check, and the rest of the money must be available on the second business day after the deposit.

But just because funds are available on a check you’ve deposited doesn’t mean the check is good.

It can take weeks to discover a check was a forgery. Until the bank confirms that the funds from the check have been deposited into your account, you are responsible for any funds you withdraw against that check.

If the check turns out to be a fake, you have to repay the bank any money you withdrew against the check.


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