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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

This is NOT true. Banks can and will hold a Cashier's Check if the customer and/or the bank believes it to be fraudulent.
Unfortunately it is becoming easier to forge checks, even cashier's checks, making banks more skeptical about making funds available to customers right away.

I received a check for $1909.00. I knew this couldn't be right. Who in there right mind would just send someone whom they have never met a check for this amount of money. The very ne t day I got a text asking if for a assignment update, I responded with, "I'll be working on it tomorrow afternoon". The next day I received another text asking about the assignment results. So I responded with, "As soon as the check clears the bank I will continue with the assignment". They responded with, "The check is a cashiers check and is good and I need to do the assignment ASAP". I have not even taken the check to the bank for deposit, instead I am going to "DEPOSIT" it with the police department along with the letter telling me to deposit the check, keep $250 for yourself and go to your local Walmart (there are 8 stores that I'd consider local) spend $50 and what ever you buy is yours. Then go to USPS and buy to money orders for certain amounts of money and use the rest to overnight the money orders to some guy in another state. I don't think so.

I receive a check from Christopher Fuller to be a "Feedback Agent" for the Amount $ 2965.00 Dollars he text me on my cell his number is 442-600-7272 the check was from Berkshire Bank from Pittsfield MA 01202-1308. The instructions were to keep $200. Wage and $65. for transportation. He send it via USPS Priority Mail from Atlanta GA 30320. I dint deposited the check because the micro print on the side of the check you cant read them, I call the bank and they told me it was a bogus check.

scam email from secret shopper from Mark Smith his phone is 7242496702 this Secret Shopper is trying to scam peoples offer survey shoppers job. Do not fall for it.

I am writing to let you know that your first assignment package has been delivered to you through USPS.. I am expecting the assignment report along the image of cards(Both Front and back) . Please proceed to complete the assignment today and email your assignment report asap to enable us proceed with the shipment of your second assignment. Text me once you complete assignment report or for quick updates. Include your name in Text Message. Regards Alicia Voeks Would you like to earn an extra income like me without affecting your present Job. It was unbelievable until i gave it a try and I just thought I should inform you about it. I have been doing this in the last 3 months, It's seems like a life time opportunity, Its a retail survey which evaluates customers services and sales efforts. They actually need more people in the program so i thought i should recommend you. For each assigment you are paid $300.00 To Signup : Email personnelpinc           with the below details : Legal Full Name: Full address ( Inc Apt ): Your Mobile Phone Number: Current Occupation: Contact Email: It is all scam do not fall for it. Received check and Luck

I did some home work and find out it is all scam.

Received a $1750.49 from "Secret Shopper The Premier Mystery Shopper Company". My assignment was to deposit the check into my bank and it should clear in one business day. After it clears I was to go to moneygram and send 1350 to a Terrell Cameron in Ramona, California and I was to keep $300 for my compensation and $100 to use to purchase the moneygram. I was then responsible to make a report on their services ad send to email supporx@ukr.net It sounded all legit to me and they sent a Cashiers Check. They texted me and told me to complete the assignment, but my bank refused to release the funds except for $200. I received the check on a Tuesday and the bank held the funds until end of day Friday. Then check loss prevention called me saying they had suspicions on the check. They won't release the funds and have taken back the $200 deposit they originally allowed at time of deposit. The return address on the USPS Priority envelope is from a Jeffery Branch in New York. Originally I thought a name of Josh ?? was dropped somewhere in my contacts which I can no longer find but I remember it welcomed me to a mystery shopper opportunity via email, i think, I was pretty excited, until my bank refused the check. I am very upset because they kept hounding me everyday to complete the job, but I kept telling them the bank had not released the funds yet. The imessage seemed robot generated and by Thursday I was getting suspicious this was not a real person. I did a white pages reverse caller search and found a report there that this number: 1-951-220-8671 scammed another person out of $2000+. I called my bank and they confirmed that the bank which the cashiers check came from has had some suspicious activity to it, so they ended up not approving it. I did spend the $200 but fortunately it was covered by my own meager checking balance, however, I had bought some groceries for the kids in my household anticipating the $400 in my account soon, but it didn't happen because the bank didn't clear the money so my account is now off by $200. Fortunately, my bank caught the fraud and I was not responsible for the FULL $1750.49 but I had to pay $8.00 service fee. I really thought it was legit with cashiers check and addresses, but I sure was wrong. Is there anything legit out there in cyber space?

received two cashiers check from secert shopper amount of 2925.37 and 2920.60 both check is flake it is 100% scam. Do not fall it. Both check is from Mark smith call him self Mark Smith. The check sender is different peoples. The name send out the check Alicia Cabrera and second sender is Kelly Hoxie.

Another scam email from this person. Do not fall for it. -----Original Message----- From: Mark Smith Ph.D Sent: Tue, Mar 22, 2016 12:42 pm Subject: Urgent Message***Pls Reply** Greetings, This is Mark Smith, Ph.D., in regards shopping assignment to be completed with the check delivered to you few days ago. Please note that tomorrow is the deadline for the survey/shopping assignment because we need to submit the details / findings from the store to our Client, Apple Inc. not later than tomorrow. Kindly proceed now to complete assignment as directed in email sent to you few days ago.Please check your spam/junk folder if message was not received, do request for it to be resent now. I await your urgent response. Regards, Mark Smith, Ph.D.

I got three checks: $2865, $2270.63 & $1740 with instructions to send a 10 min money gram wire transfer from Walmart. Send money gram info to include the senders Name and address with 8 digit reference number asap. My bank was make aware as the local police dept.

These are useful details for a complaint. Please report this to the FTC at ftc.gov/complaint. The information you give will go into a database that law enforcement uses for investigations.

Comments you post here on the blog don't go into the database.

Hey....so thankgod my intuition wasnt feeling this....But my question ti all of you is this...you all keep saying you received checks of amounts like $1575-3,000 right.. so whats the probelem?? Meaning..what have yall lost out on? Just cash the check and if it works youre good if jot you go home ....no? What am I missing?

When the fake checks bounce, you owe your bank the $1575-$3000 because you tried to deposit a counterfeit check and then withdraw it. You can also get into legal trouble for that.

No legitimate business is going to send you a check and have you deposit it in your account. Would you ever write a check to a total stranger and expect them to not just keep it for themselves?

It's a scam that leaves you thousands of dollars in debt. Don't ever do it.

I received an email from a Mystery Shopper company; as I do in fact do mystery shopping, I thought it might be legit. I responded and two days later I get a Cashier's Check drawn on Citizens First Bank out of The Villages, Florida. It came in a USPS Priority Mail envelope, but I noted the return address was out of Slater, Iowa. Looked suspicious, so I checked the web and found this site where others have posted. I have no intention of cashing this check, but I wanted to add my information for others as this is going on as of April 28, 2016. Interestingly, right after I answered the first email I got three other similar email messages offering Mystery Shopper jobs that are TOO GOOD TO BE TRUE. The mystery shopping that I do gets one enough to buy lunch after shopping, but nothing more. DO NOT fall for this obvious scam.

So, glad I checked this out! I got a check today, May 5th 2016. Sent priority
Oh hell no

Thank you everyone! I just got out the mail today, a heck for $4953.00. I thought this was very strange that I would get this large amount and no background check on me or anything just an email.

The instructions want me to deposit it into my account and then keep $250 and withdraw the the remaining and deposit it into one of the banks it listed in the letter as a CASH DEPOSIT for the next Mystery Shopper. This is very odd and I REFUSE to follow through on this, if they want it back let them send me a letter asking for it and i will send it back!

I refuse to cash this check period. The Cashier's check if from Northwest Savings Bank. Interesting that it's had no address (city/state) of the bank on it.

I just received a phone call from a Mr. James Smith claiming my number to be drawn from a sweepstake entry that I filled out at my local Walmart. According to Mr. James Smith, I an the winner of 25,000 and a 2016 Mercedes Benz. Mr. Smith need to know my name, and what close relative would be awarded the prize if anything were to happen to me.

Instead of giving him any information, I asked him a few questions pretending to believe his deception. I asked where he was located, he replied "Las Vegas", I asked him what was my Sweepstake Conf. No. he gave me a number. I asked for his supervisor's name, he replied, "Mr. Renick Anderson" but when I asked him to spell the persons name. He couldn't. I then told him that I need to verify this information with my local Walmart and that I would call him back.

Mr. James Smith advised me not to call them because someone from Walmart will want to take my prize. But he was willing to give me a number to verify his company with the Las Vegas police depart. OK. so here are the numbers that Mr. Smith was willing to give me. Mr. Smith's number is 1-876-377-5431 or 1-876-543-4707. Las Vegas police dept. 876-402-6982.

First of all there hardly ever anyone who hasn't visited a Walmart on this planet. I never enter Sweepstakes so I knew that this person was a scam artist, but not a very good one. If you contact Walmart they will tell you that give you the general number for Walmart which will lead you to a recording verifying the call, emails, letters are all scams!Do no every give anyone any personal information about you or your family over the phone or by mail. Don't do it these people are criminals! Report the violation immediately to help others not to believe the lies thieves tell.

Idk if those numbers are real but (876) is the island of Jamaica area code.

I just got an check for $2240 and the want me to send $940 to two different people... I'm not looking the way this sounds... I was going to cash the check in and not send them anything forreal but once the bank find out its fake I'm going to have to pay that money back...so how do I go about this

If you have a fake check, you could turn it in to your bank, or destroy it. If the check came in the mail, you could submit a Mail Fraud Complaint Form to the U.S. Postal Inspection Service.

You can also report a scam that involves a fake check to the FTC at FTC.gov/complaint.

I just received a check and letter in the mail saying that I have been selected to be a secret shopper. I never signed up online or paid for the opportunity. There is a phone number to activate the check and there is no finite adress to send the money through money gram. Is it still a scam?

If someone you don't know sends you a check and wants you to use a wire transfer, it could be a scam.

A scammer might offer to hire you to be a secret shopper. He sends you a check, and tells you to cash the check and use the money for secret shopping. But the check is fake. If you cash the check and use the money, and the bank finds out later that the check was fake, you'll have to repay the bank all the money you took.

What happens if you get a cashier's check for 1800. What happens if you don't have a bank account but go to Walmart and get it cashed.

If you cash a fake check and use the money, and the bank finds out later that the check was fake, you'll have to repay the bank all the money you took.

Received email via survey site I've used in the past. Asked for my name, address, email, and cell. Gave it, since it's all public info (cell is via Google Voice and is a throw-away). Got certified mail today and check for nearly $1800. Immediately became suspicious and searched the Internet and found this page. Mail tells me to go shopping at a local Wal-Mart. Spend $50. Then transfer funds to someone in Philadelphia for $1400. It is sad anyone falls for this... but I'm sure many do. Walmart doesn't care either.

I basically received the same email as you and then received an assignment in the mail with a money order for $950.00. I was asked to go to Walmart spend $40.00 on whatever, then keep $140.00 for myself, then Western Union rest to another person. Doesn't sound legit but now not sure what I should do with the dang money order.

Thank you all for posting your remarks. I just got a check like every has put here and I am glad I looked here before I went to the bank. Thank you so much.

I agree with some of you that Walmart should be held responsible for this. If they are aware of this game they should be making the advertisements everywhere for people to be aware of the scan pertaining to their name. Walmart is a billion-dollar company. They can't afford to warn people about what's going on. It is giving them a bad name. Also Walmart must not care about their customers very much if they are not making the means for people to be aware of this. I have contacted A law-firm and I'm going to try and pursue a law suite. If anyone is interested in getting involved in a class action suit which would work much better please let me know

This scam is crap and the worst is that the banks cant seem to tell the differences between a fake money order or a check, the bank also charges you $12-$15 for them to return the check or money order back to you and forces you to pay the money back. To me I don't see any reason that a person cant use one of these fake money orders or checks as a payday loan, the interest of $12-$15 dollars is much lower than the bank, money trees and pawn shops charge. You just don't wire the money to the person trying to perform the scam. LMAO! Though I wouldn't do it but what a thought.

I got a check for $3,787.00 and asked me to buy vanilla cash cards. I knew it was fraud but checked to make sure. I also filed a complaint to at www.fraud.org the more info the government gets out the scam artists the better they can stop them.

I received a email from a Dan Weil stating I was picked to be a mystery shopper for Walmart. Received a check for $2,950, deposited as told, waited for funds to be available and then used my debit card to go to Walmart and buy (3) $800 money orders. Was then told to fedex them overnight to an address in Jonesboro, GA. The following day, I found out the check was no good. I didnt' send it overnight, so I was able to call Fedex and intercept the package so that those criminals will not be able to get the money orders. It's a mess, but please do not fall for this mess.

I received a random check in the mail from Florida school of technology the check is over 2000 but I never attended the school how do I find out if this is real reading these post make we skeptical but the check didn't come with instructions but it did come via FedEx

You can contact the business or person who signed the check.

i just found out about this bit of info & thank goodness i was told because i dont have that type of money to be paying back nor am i trying to be sued or credit ruined

I got one yesterday from Verizon wireless for $3,785.50 had to buy 6 $500 prepaid vanilla cards and I get to keep 700 bucks. I got a phone number 18886689544 ext 1

Please report this to the FTC at FTC.gov/complaint. The information you give will go into a database that law enforcement uses for investigations.

I received this e-mail signed "Marc Anthony" like really!? I don't know, sounds illegitimate to me. What do you think? -

Getting Extra Income with Us - Mystery Shoppers/Evaluator - Gold World Supplies Company is looking for a reputable person to work as a mystery shopper. The job does not entail much and does not affect your current job.Your duty is to conduct an all expenses paid survey and evaluation in your area. As a mystery shopper you are expected to perform specific tasks such as purchasing a product or using a service by posing as a normal customer. The offer is limited. Please understand that this is a Part Time Job that will not take your regular job time.

Payment check/Money order will be in a certain amount that you will be asked for cash your bank then deduct your salary and have the rest for the evaluation.The Assignment will pay you $500/Assignment of 2 Assignment a week. If you interest, Contact us with your information: 1. Name (first/last) : __________________ 2. Address : __________________ 3. Country, State, City, zip : __________________ 4. Phones (cell/home) : __________________ 5. Age & Sex : _______________ 6. Alternative email : _________________  7. Occupation : __________________ Note: I have been doing this for a while and feel I should let you know its not spam if you are interested then email as directed. Marc Anthony MISTERY SHOPPER DEPT

Email I received yesterday, with two attachments (couldn't post here). One was the full instructions of what I will be doing and who I will be sending the money. The second was the "evaluation form" for Wal Mart and Money Gram. I knew this was a scam immediately, no company would EVER tell you to send money grams. I also called the credit union listed on the check and confirmed it was a fake check but also wanted to more so let them know about the scam with their name on it. The lady told me a bunch of their checks were stolen a while back and they're still circulating.... She said one more fake check won't make any difference and there wasn't anything else I could do to report this. They also spelled my name wrong on the check which is hilarious to me. I just sent them an email back trying to mess with them asking them to send me a new check so I can complete the task as quickly as possible and do more work for them! I'm going to drag this out, have them spend as much money on priority mail shipping as I possibly can and see how far I can take it with messing with these people. Will update!

Dear Agent

This is a confirmation that you can deposit the funds you received for your first assignment. The Payment you received covers all expenses including evaluation, shopping and your compensation for this survey. Deposit the check via Mobile Deposit, ATM or Bank for clearance, cash will be 100% available Immediately or 24 HRS, commence your first assignment as soon as funds is available:

ATTACHED WITH THIS EMAIL IS YOUR CUSTOMER EVALUATION INSTRUCTIONS AND CUSTOMER EVALUATION FORM. KINDLY READ INSTRUCTIONS CAREFULLY.

N.B. Add this email to your Email contact list, to ensure all our emails gets to your inbox.

Your Supervisor,
Tony Nalle

I just received a text telling me that I've been hired to take a survey and that I can expect to receive a check tomorrow or Thursday. The person sending the text did not identify his company. I was told to do exactly what is written in a letter that will be mailed to me already me, along with the check.
After finding your site, I began to ask questions: (1) what's the name of your company? (2) Why do I have to deposit the check into my bank account? (3) why can't I just cash the check? (4) What's the url for your website? I haven't received any texts in response to my questions. Sending check back to sender, if I receive it

Just got one of these in the mail this morning for almost $4,000. Everything came out legit until it came to the company I was "surveying" for. Also as I was looking at the check further, it feels light, skimpy, printing is AWFUL, and my address is INCORRECT! Found that interesting...

BEWARE!

sad cause i recieved a check and I knew it was fraud smh these people really take the time and use priority mail and all

I just received a check through FedEx for 2500 with instructions to deposit it in my bank account,wait 48 hours withdraw 2300 hundred (200 was my mystery shopping payment) and wire the rest through moneygram (my 1st assignment) to a third party in IL. I'm currently in college and my major is criminal justice with a minor in online fruad and scams so after I read that,I already knew it was a scam. I looked the company up and I contacted them to warn them what was going on. They didn't even know anything about it and thanked me for bringing it to their attention. I'm so glad criminal justice is my major.

I just received a similar mailing where I am to go to Walmart, purchase and keep anything under $40, then wire $793 through Walmart's Money Transfer to a person in Gary, IN. The total amount is for $995, of which I am to keep $150 plus the $40 I would spend plus $12 for the wire charge. The big difference with this one is that it is not a check, it is a Postal Money Order. Does this sound legit?

If someone you don't know sends you a check or money order and wants you to deposit it and send money back, it's probably a scam. If you send money by wire transfer, it's like sending cash. Once it's gone, it's gone and you can't trace it or get it back.

If anyone you don't know sends you a business check, personal check, cashier's check or money order and wants you to send them money, it's probably a scam.

My advice to you is to ask them to send you the money by western union get the cash then proceed
The is a higher than 50/50 chance you will not get an answer.
The bank has the legal right to reject a check even weeks after posting to your account

I'd been receiving emails on this so call mystery shopper and also today I just got a check of 3,150.00 to buy at apple store 3 iphone6 and after reviewing all your comments I decided to call the bank and yes its all a fraud. People don't fall for this call the bank and tell them to verify the check number...I guess I'll wait to she send me an email so I can respond to her. Her name is Brenda Atkins from Gurab Research,Inc.

So, I answered the email from James Carr, got a money order from a Lucy Guzman, in an envelope with a return address to a Roger Wilson in Atlanta, GA. Now that I know this is a scam, how should I proceed?

You could take the money order to your bank, or take the envelope and money order to your local Post Office, or contact your state Attorney General’s office, and report this to the FTC at FTC.gov/complaint.

I got one for $1,940 I did the stupid thing and put it in my account and they closed my account.

I have been getting these checks from secret shoppers. I have so far about five to six of them. I would like to know what to do. So I can help the right people to get their bad people that sending bad money orders and checks.

The lattern corporation is one scam group. They sent me a check for $2865. Holding on to it to give to the right authorities.

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